Quarterback competitions tend to earn the biggest headlines at NFL training camps. In regards to the San Francisco 49ers, Alex Smith enters camp firmly entrenched as the team’s starter following a 13-3 regular season and appearance in the NFC Championship game.
With the 49ers, the quarterback competition happens to be for the backup spot.
Colin Kaepernick was named the No. 2 signal caller before the exhibition season gets underway Friday night at home against the Minnesota Vikings. It was one of the more notable developments at 49ers Training Camp presented by HP this week.
The competition between Kaepernick, Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien is “fluid” according to Jim Harbaugh. In-game performance will play a key role in determining who starts the year behind Smith.
Greg Roman, too, is eager to see how Kaepernick fares in the most playing time he’s had in some time.
“I think it’ll be a really good opportunity for him to show us what he can do,” the offensive coordinator said looking ahead to the first preseason game. “From an evaluation standpoint it’s a great tool, just watching players adapt to maybe different formations you might put in for that week.”
Kaepernick is the only quarterback battling for the backup spot who was a member of the 49ers active roster last year. He earned the backup spot despite not having a full NFL offseason under his belt.
Kaepernick completed a combined 3-of-5 passes for a total of 35 yards while appearing in three regular season games as a rookie.
“I definitely wasn’t as prepared as I would (have) liked to be last year,” Kaepernick said. “You have to deal with the season we were dealt. We went out there and did the best we could.”
Kaepernick’s transition to the NFL was further complicated by the fact that he was learning a new offense from the “pistol” system he commanded in college at Nevada.
“First jumping into it there is quite a bit of a learning curve, now I am comfortable with this offense and ready to get back out there,” said last season’s second-round pick.
The passer has impressed enough to take the majority of the second-team snaps in practice, highlighted by a 10-yard rushing touchdown in a two-minute drill period on Monday.
Roman is confident his current No. 2 quarterback has made strides entering his second season.
“It was a completely different offense, playing under center for the first time with a new group of players who you really haven’t played with before,” Roman said. “Definitely, there’s a curve there. I think there’s a little bit better opportunity for Colin having had a season under his belt, approaching this preseason to go in and play with confidence.”
The quarterback spoke about his confidence and better grasp of the 49ers offense when he met the media ahead of practice on Tuesday.
“Knowing all the checks and audibles and what you are really trying to get out of each play is really where I have made the biggest strides,” Kaepernick said.
The second-year passer knows his position’s importance. It’s a motivating factor in the quarterback battle through camp.
“It’s football … at some point you are going to have to wait your turn.” Kaepernick said. “You just have to be ready for when your opportunity comes.”
While Kaepernick’s opportunities are currently with the second-team he knows he has his coach’s confidence entering the preseason.
“Colin Kaepernick is making some great strides,” Harbaugh said. “He needs to play in football games and he’ll get that opportunity Friday night.”
Tags: Colin Kaepernick, Greg Roman
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