Pads on. Game on.
Position battles heated up under the warm Santa Clara sky on Tuesday afternoon. Day 3 of San Francisco 49ers training camp featured the first padded session of the summer and several players stood out.
As always, we were there to bring you the 11 top observations of the day.
1.Both quarterbacks continued to swap completions as they split practice reps for a third consecutive day. Blaine Gabbert's 40-yard touchdown strike to Torrey Smith stood as the best offensive play from the two-hour session. Kaepernick, not to be outdone, lasered several passes into tight windows with successful results. Chip Kelly told reporters that preseason games would be the difference-maker in who earns the starting job.
2.* *Knock on wood The 49ers enjoyed another day without injuries to members of the 90-man roster. The padded session saw the team work well together during 1-on-1 matchups where things tend to get heated. San Francisco's personnel competed all over the practice field in 1-on-1s and combo blocking and route-running periods.
3. As for those 1-on-1 periods, here's a snapshot of what caught our eyes. Chris Davis recorded a PBU against Bruce Ellington's quick out. Dontae Johnson recorded an interception on a deep go route intended for Jerome Simpson down the left sideline. Kaepernick completed an impressive slant to DeAndre Smelter against Prince Charles Iworah's tight coverage. Gabbert later connected with DeAndrew White on a deep corner route against Davis. Gabbert also found Smith on a comeback route against Keith Reaser.
4. When the quarterbacks, pass-catchers and defenders moved to a combo route-running period, Tramaine Brock broke up a Thad Lewis pass intended for Eric Rogers. Rookie Jeff Driskel finished the priod with a pair of back-to-back completions to Simpson and Smith on downfield throws.
5. Meanwhile in the trenches, Arik Armstread continued to display his improved strength and confidence when going up against various 49ers linemen. Anthony Davis, too, looked solid in his first padded work since the 2014 season.
6. In the opening 7-on-7 period, NaVorro Bowman broke up a Driskel pass intended for tight end Je'Ron Hamn. Nick Bellore and Garrett Celek also broke up passes in the period.
7. The first 11-on-11 period saw Kaepernick displaying his wheels with a long rush on the perimeter. Carradine, linebacker Eli Harold and rookie defensive lineman Ronald Blair III recorded tackles-for-loss. Gabbert finished the period with the aforementioned 40-yard strike to Smith in stride for the longest pass connection of the day.
8.** As for depth chart notes: Ray-Ray Armstrong joined Bowman as the first-team linebackers. Reaser and rookie Rashard Robinson lined up as the second-team cornerbacks. Iworah and Johnson worked with the third group. Undrafted linebacker Lenny Jones took some reps at safety next to Kenneth Acker with the third defense. Veteran tackle Erik Pears also took some first-team left tackle reps at the end of practice to give Joe Staley a breather.
9. The second 7-on-7 period was highlighted by impressive throws from Gabbert and Kaepernick. Gabbert found Quinton Patton open down the left sideline for a 20-yard gain. Kaepernick later connected on darts to Simpson, Celek and Rogers for a trio of receptions.
10. Ahmad Brooks flashed in a later team period with a sack on Gabbert and pass breakup at the line of scrimmage. Plays later, Kaepernick showed great touch on jump ball to White down the right seam. Tony Jerod-Eddie recorded a TFL and Aaron Lynch added a PBU at the line.
11. In the final team period of the day, Garrett Celek caught three passes, including a 25-yard ball from Kaepernick on a post pattern. Hamm and Celek added receptions on a day that was very tight end-friendly in the passing game. Eric Reid's blitzing sack on Kaepernick finished the day as the top defensive highlight to close out practice. Rookie running back Kelvin Taylor caught a short swing pass to his left out of the backfield and turned it to a 20-yard gain. Meanwhile in the trenches, Arik Armstread continued to display his improved strength and confidence