8 Observations of the 49ers Offense from Day 1 of Joint Practices with Denver Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, COLO. – Christian Ponder was put to work in his first practice with the San Francisco 49ers.

The veteran quarterback, who signed a 1-year contract on Tuesday, joined his new teammates on Wednesday to face the Denver Broncos for the first of two joint practices.

"They threw me right into the fire," Ponder said after the workout. "It's been a fun 24 hours."

The San Francisco 49ers took part in a practice with the Denver Broncos in the mile-high city as they prepare to face each other in Week 2 of the preseason.

For more on the 49ers quarterbacks and offensive highlights of the day, we reviewed the key observations from the two-hour practice session.

The ongoing Colin Kaepernick watch continued in Denver. The sixth-year pro did not throw in practice. Instead, he continued to mix in during 11-on-11 run periods. Kaepernick handed the ball off three times on zone-read running plays. He later signed autographs for fans after the workout and appeared to be in good spirits.

2. Wide receiver Bruce Ellington missed his second consecutive day of on-field work. Second-year wideout DeAndrew White worked as the first slot receiver in Ellington's place. White hauled in several passes on the day, including a deep crossing route from Blaine Gabbert in an 11-on-11 period. In other receiver news, DeAndre Smelter went through injury rehab work with San Francisco's strength and conditioning staff during practice.

3. Back to Ponder, the newly signed quarterback wore No. 5 in his first practice with the 49ers. He also enjoyed a solid 7-on-7 period in the red zone. More on that in a bit.

4. It's hard to truly judge the success of running plays in the non-tackling practices, but Pierre Garçon's 15-yard run midway through the session was an obvious highlight. Hyde followed Joe Staley's seal block on the left perimeter and darted up the field for a first down.

5. In the same 11-on-11 period, DuJuan Harris followed suit with a big run of his own. Harris showed great vision on a cut-back run behind rookie left tackle Joshua Garnett with the second offense.

6. In the next team period, Ponder connected with rookie receiver Aaron Burbridge on back-to-back throws. Burbridge got open on a slant and comeback route, respectively.

7. Broncos star defensive tackle Derek Wolfe was injured in the second 11-on-11 period. Wolfe was helped off of the field by Denver's medical staff. San Francisco's players had a look of concern on their faces after the lineman fell to the ground.

8. San Francisco's best offensive period was red-zone, 7-on-7 work. The offense produced six touchdowns and might have had a seventh if Jerome Simpson was able to get both feet in bounds on a Jeff Driskel throw.

The touchdowns were as follows:

  • Gabbert threw a strike to Blake Bell on a corner route for a 20-yard score on the very first play of the period.
  • Gabbert connected with Bell on a comeback route from 10 yards out.
  • Ponder completed a short touchdown pass to undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs on a slant route.
  • On the next play, Ponder found White in the back left corner of the end zone on a perfect touch pass.
  • Gabbert's best throw of the day was a rollout pass to Quinton Patton, who got free from Aqib Talib's coverage to catch a 10-yard score.
  • Ponder finished the drill with another left corner route to White, who was left uncovered by Denver's defense.

Bonus note: You gotta love this tweet from Patton.

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