DENVER, COLO. -- Christian Ponder told himself he would give it one more year before deciding to hang up his cleats.
The free agent quarterback saw his latest opportunity turn up in the middle of a home improvement project. Ponder told reporters on Wednesday that he was painting his house in Phoenix when the San Francisco 49ers called.
The conversation quickly turned into a contract for the 2011 first-round pick. Soon after, the 28-year old quarterback got on a flight to the Bay Area for a physical. Upon putting pen to paper on his deal, Ponder immediately began studying Chip Kelly's offense.
"It's been nonstop," Ponder explained. "Once they gave me the playbook on the plane – I studied the whole flight, I studied all night and I studied this morning. They threw me in the fire, which is good. I think that's the best way to learn. It's been a fun 24 hours."
Ponder's early impressions of his new team have been positive thus far. The quarterback said he favors Kelly's fast-paced system and added that the team's rushing attack has serious potential.
He also admitted that his conditioning needs some work. That said, Ponder hopes to take the field on Saturday against the Denver Broncos in the team's second preseason contest.
"I'd like to play," Ponder said. "It won't be the full playbook, but hopefully we can come up with a plan for what I can do in the game and go out and play. It would be fun to compete and get out there."
As for painting his house, that project will have to wait.
"My wife isn't happy about it," Ponder joked.Niner Notes
- Curtis Modkins hasn't forgotten that Ponder spurned him in the college recruiting process. The 49ers offensive coordinator fought hard to get the quarterback to Georgia Tech, but Ponder ultimately opted to sign with Florida State. Modkins made sure to remind Ponder of the situation now that they've crossed paths again in San Francisco.
- Ronald Blair III continues to impress his teammates. NaVorro Bowman and Eric Reid both had positive remarks regarding the rookie defensive lineman on Wednesday.
"The kid, I don't watch a ton of film on him, but what I do see from him is he's in the backfield," Reid said. "You look up and he's touching the running back as soon as he gets the ball. He's playing well."
Added Bowman: "I was going to use the word effective. That's exactly what he is. He's disruptive, a guy who knows how to use his size. He definitely has a talent and a knack for the ball. It's a talent that we can definitely use."
- San Francisco's starting safeties expect improvement from Wednesday to Thursday. The Broncos offense made big plays against the 49ers defense. "I think we had some good plays and some not so good plays," Reid said. "We definitely have some things to improve on. We'll go back, watch the film, see what we messed up on and come back tomorrow and have a better practice."