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Backup QBs Remain in Competition

Posted Aug 1, 2013

Jim Harbaugh has enjoyed watching San Francisco’s starting quarterback continue to improve even if it means the spotlight is taken off the players competing to be his backup.

Colin Kaepernick has produced plenty of eye-catching moments in 49ers training camp. In fact, the third-year passer has had several more than the other quarterbacks on the roster.

From his vantage point, Jim Harbaugh has enjoyed watching San Francisco’s starting quarterback continue to improve, even if it means the spotlight is taken off the players competing to be his backup.

“Colin is playing so well right now, it overshadows some of the other guys,” the 49ers coach said on Thursday.

Kaepernick’s play still impressed on a day where Patrick Willis sat out of the session with a hand injury and third-year cornerback Chris Culliver was carted off the field after injuring his knee in the opening special teams period. Harbaugh said Willis’ injury wouldn’t be a long-term issue and Culliver’s status would be known after he undergoes an MRI at Stanford.

“You try to dodge bullets and sometimes you don’t dodge them all,” Harbaugh said. “What it means right now is there are guys who are getting an opportunity to show what they can do. There’s a positive there.”

As for the quarterbacks looking to take advantage of their reps, Harbaugh suggested there was no clubhouse leader to be the team’s No. 2 signal-caller behind Kaepernick. The competition between Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien is still alive. Seventh-round pick B.J. Daniels could still be in the mix as well. 


When asked about any quarterback emerging as the backup, Harbaugh referred to only McCoy and Tolzien.

“Some good, some consistent play and then some mistakes,” the 49ers coach said. “I’d say both guys are going through that right now. “

Harbaugh, however, pointed out that he’s been pleased with Daniels’ development at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. The seventh-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, like McCoy and Tolzien, has also received opportunities to play with the second-team offense.

“He’s really progressing at quarterback,” Harbaugh said of Daniels. “He’s doing good work there and he’s putting in a lot of time at the receiver position and at the halfback position.

“It’s been impressive how he goes from receiver to quarterback. He puts on the gloves and then he’s back at running back. He’s doing a pretty darn good job… Arrow up there.”

McCoy and Tolzien continue to make the No. 2 job competitive. Both had their moments, good and bad, on Thursday.

McCoy fired a red zone touchdown to Vernon Davis in a 7-on-7 period, but was later intercepted by Perrish Cox to end a two-minute drive.

Tolzien had a pass broken up by Nnamdi Asomugha and mistakenly launched a pass at Quinton Patton, who remains in a blue, non-contact jersey. Quarterbacks have not thrown passes at the rookie wideout, but Tolzien’s pass went directly to Patton, who quickly cradled the ball with one hand into his stomach to make the catch.

Daniels nearly caught a Tolzien touchdown pass as a wide receiver, but referees ruled the rookie stepped on the back line of the end zone when he came down with the ball.

Training Camp Notes

-Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Jonathan Goodwin, Kassim Osgood were out of action for the offense. NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith were sidelined for the defense.

-Trenton Robinson saw first-team free safety reps. Eric Reid also took first-team reps at the end of the practice.

-Willis stood behind the back of the end zone to watch the defense during red zone periods. The star linebackers stood in a spot where he could study the action just like he was in the play. Michael Wilhoite, Nate Stupar and Nick Moddy all saw time with the first-team at inside linebacker.

-Kaepernick had an impressive rollout touchdown pass to second-year tight end Garrett Celek in a red zone 7-on-7 period.

-Kaepernick was later intercepted in a team period by Wilhoite after a short pass over the middle intended to Davis was tipped in the air by Moody and hauled in by Wilhoite.

-Ian Williams continued to be dominant at first-team nose tackle. In a series of back-to-back plays, Williams put Wayne Tribue on his back and then knocked off Joe Looney’s helmet with a ferocious bull rush.

-Harbaugh said he was pleased with Nnamdi Asomugha’s progress. “He’s noticeably had some eye-popping plays, yesterday especially,” the 49ers coach said. “He’s been good. I think he’s got a good grasp of what we’re doing defensively. He’s in shape, so I think he’s doing a nice job.”

-With Culliver out of action, Tramaine Brock joined the first-team nickel defense. Asomugha has played with the first-team nickel unit in camp, but continued to run with the second-team unit on Thursday.

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