Following Saturday’s night session at 49ers Training Camp presented by HP, Jim Harbaugh had his players back to work at a competitive Monday afternoon practice in Santa Clara.
It appeared as if the players made good use of their day off on Sunday. Michael Crabtree joined his teammates for individual drills, but did not take part in team periods. Tight end Nate Byham and guard Mike Iupati both returned after practice after a few days off.
The defense recorded three interceptions in another competitive day at 49ers camp. Harbaugh said he was pleased to see his offense respond to the defense’s dominant play from recent days. The 49ers coach also said Colin Kaepernick would be his No. 2 quarterback when San Francisco starts the exhibition season Friday night at home against the Minnesota Vikings.
“Colin Kaepernick is making some great strides,” Harbaugh said. “He needs to play in football games and he’ll get that opportunity Friday night.”
Though the No. 2 competition between Kaepernick, Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien is “fluid” according to the 49ers coach, games will serve as a major determining factor in deciding who starts the year behind Alex Smith.
“They’re all fighting for that job,” Harbaugh said. “The competition is close.”
All three backups took second-team reps in various drills on Monday. Kaepernick, however, seemed to get the most of the second-team opportunities and scored a 10-yard rushing touchdown in a two-minute drill period. Kaepernick was later picked off against the second-team defense when Tramaine Brock tipped the second-year passer’s initial pass and stayed with it to record an interception.
Let’s take a look at the other top moments from Monday’s practice.
-The first of three interceptions was recorded in one-on-one drills. A Tolzien comeback route intended for wide receiver Brett Swain was picked off by Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers. In the same period, Kaepernick hooked up with Ted Ginn Jr. on an impressive 25-yard back shoulder throw down the left sideline.
-In the first team period of practice, the first-team offense faced the second-team defense while the starting defense faced the second-team defense on the adjacent practice field. In those periods, rookie guard Joe Looney did a nice job of lead-blocking against Patrick Willis. Meanwhile, Alex Smith connected with Kyle Williams on a 40-yard play-action pass on the opposite field.
-Red zone 7-on-7 work saw safety Mark LeGree break up a Tolzien pass intended for Ginn Jr. in the back of the end zone, and a touchdown pass between Johnson and first-year wideout Ben Hannula.
-In a move-the-ball period, second-team center Daniel Kilgore recorded a reception when Johnson’s pass at the line was tipped and made its way into the second-year lineman’s arms. Johnson was later intercepted by Culliver, who recorded his fourth interception of the past five practices. The first-team offense’s drive was hampered by a first-down sack from second-team nose tackle Ian Williams. On third-and-15, Smith was intercepted to close out the drive when Perrish Cox picked off a high sideline pass intended for Randy Moss.
-Smith rebounded to complete several intermediate passes to tight end Vernon Davis in a later team period. In one scenario, Smith found Davis twice to set up a field goal. The two also hooked up on a 40-yard sideline pass in the final team period to earn play of the day honors.
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