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Christian Ponder Focused on Having Fun in 49ers Preseason Debut

DENVER -- Two drives, two touchdowns.

Christian Ponder's preseason debut with the San Francisco 49ers went about as well as if he wrote the script himself. The quarterback went 7-of-8 passing for 86 yards and one touchdown, with a quarterback rating of 151. Ponder also found the end zone on a 22-yard touchdown run.

"It was fun. I haven't had that much fun on a football field in a long time," Ponder said postgame. "It was great just to win the game."

The touchdown run was the first of the two scoring plays. It also broke a 17-17 tie in the fourth quarter. Ponder's 22-yard keeper on a zone-read was his longest running play since 2012.

"I turned the corner and saw that no one was there," the QB said. "I knew it was a foot race. It felt good to cross the goal line."

Ponder and the 49ers coaching staff came up with a plan on Friday night that included 20 plays the quarterback was comfortable executing. The 30-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Dres Anderson, however, was not one of them.

"We drew it up on the sideline," Ponder shared. "It was a play that was already installed, but I just hadn't learned it yet."

Anderson was Ponder's third option on the play. But when Denver came out in Cover 0, the quarterback knew Dres could win his 1-on-1 matchup. Kendall Gaskins delivered a key block on a blitzing linebacker which allowed Anderson to get downfield, and Ponder delivered a perfect ball.

"I knew once the safety left the middle of the field, with him running a post, there was going to be no one there," the quarterback said. 

Ponder expressed that he's comfortable in Chip Kelly's offense despite only signing with the 49ers on Tuesday. The concepts are nothing new, it just comes down to learning the verbiage.

"That tells you a little bit about him," Kelly said. "He's got a real sharp mind."

Ponder's last regular season experience came in 2014 with the Minnesota Vikings. The quarterback spent all but two weeks of the 2015 season as a free agent. Ponder hopes that Saturday's performance is just the beginning of his NFL resurgence.

"What helped me the most was stepping away for a year," he explained. "I think my confidence hurt towards the end of my years in Minnesota. I think that affected my game. I took a step back, took a breather and came back with a different approach.

"I had the mindset that I just wanted to go out and have fun. Like I said before, I didn't have that much fun playing the last few years. It was great to get out and have fun again."

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