"The coaches have a lot more confidence in me doing that," Kaepernick said. "I think I have a lot more confidence doing that now as far as making sure that we're on the same page and we're seeing the same thing when we're on the field. Because, ultimately when we step out there there's not going to be a coach out there telling you to run the route like this. It's going to be you and the receiver. So, you have to have that communication."
Here are some other topics Kaepernick touched on in his media session Tuesday:
On connecting with his new teammate Lloyd: "He has pretty easy body language to read and for the most part normally, he's open by a step or two. So, that makes it a lot easier, too."
On having a healthy Michael Crabtree this season: "Even the end of last season he wasn't 100 percent and he was making plays for us. I'm excited to see what he's going to do now that he's 100 percent. ... He's a step or two quicker now. He has burst out of his routes. He has burst when he catches the ball. He looks really good out there."
On rookie receiver Bruce Ellington: "He's looked great when he's been out there. He's been on top of it mentally, which is a huge thing as a rookie. He doesn't play like a rookie. He's not out there thinking about things or worried about making mistakes. He's playing fast, he's making plays, so we're excited about him."
- San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is an honest guy. Ask his opinion and he gives it. Some of the 49ers' defensive players may not have enjoyed what Fangio had to say Tuesday in his media session, in which he mentioned things young players have to work on.On linebacker Chris Borland, a third-round pick: "He's got really good instincts. And sometimes he thinks his instincts are taking him to a play and he's aborting his own assignment, and he's gotten burned on that a few times. So he's got to learn that the quarterbacks in this league can be looking here and quickly come back here. And, he's been burned on that a few times."
On fourth-rounder Dontae Johnson: "He's doing fine. Like a lot of rookies, he's got a little tentativeness in his play right now, not always sure exactly what to do. But I think he'll get there. He's got good size. We feel he's got good enough speed. Just keep waiting for him to feel the urgency and really turn it up. And I don't think he's quite there yet. I think he's still feeling his way through knowing what to do, the NFL game, etc. But hopefully he'll kick it up a notch here in the next three weeks at some point."
On second-year linebacker Nick Moody: "Well, he's looked a whole lot better than he did as a rookie, just from an assignments standpoint. But he's still got to fight to be more consistent. He's got to get the inconsistency out of his play."
But don't get too caught up on what Fangio is saying. It's camp and all of the above issues are correctable.
- Cornerback Chris Cook snared an interception Tuesday. That's a good sign. He had none in four years with the Minnesota Vikings after being a first-round pick. The coaching staff has been working with Cook on his ball skills.
- Linebacker Ahmad Brooks restructured his contract. He got some salary converted into a signing bonus and saved the team $2 million in salary-cap room. The 49ers have about $10 million in cap room and now have the money to extend some players. The top candidates include receiver Michael Crabtree and guards Mike Iupati and Alex Boone. Crabtree and Iupati are in the final year of their contracts and Boone is holding out for a new deal.
- Starting cornerbacks Chris Culliver (knee) and Tramaine Brock (ankle) and defensive lineman Ray McDonald (leg) were among those not practicing Tuesday.
- Tuesday's practice went two-and-a half hours. It was the longest of camp so far.
- Former 49ers defensive lineman Cedric Hardman was visiting camp. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula asked him to address the unit after practice.
- As expected, the 49ers signed former Arizona Cardinals running back Alfonso Smith because of injuries in the backfield. Smith will help in practice and in the preseason. They waived guard Fou Fonoti, an undrafted free agent.
The 49ers cut rookie quarterback Kory Faulkner on Tuesday and claimed tackle Michael Philipp off of waivers from Miami.
The 49ers had praise for Faulkner during offseason workouts, and coach Jim Harbaugh worked him out at Southern Illinois prior to the draft. Faulkner said he had every intention of signing with the 49ers once he went undrafted.
But the 49ers have crowded group of quarterbacks, and when Philipp was claimed, Faulkner was expendable.
The 49ers will likely keep starter Colin Kaepernick and backup Blaine Gabbert on the 53-man roster. That would leave Josh Johnson out. Bethel-Thompson could go to the practice squad, where he spent most of his time last season.
As for Philipp, he was an undrafted free agent from Oregon State this year and will likely provide camp depth.
Hyde looks good and he needs to stay healthy: Second-round pick running back Carlos Hyde has looked very good in training camp as he did in the offseason sessions. Hyde is explosive and seems NFL ready. He should make an early impact. That is important because the 49ers are getting banged up at the position. Kendall Hunter tore his knee and is out for the year. LaMichael James dislocated his elbow and is out for a month. The 49ers can survive these injuries, but they can't absorb anything more at the spot.
Steve Johnson will help this team: The new receiver looks great. The 49ers traded for the veteran from the Buffalo Bills in May to give the offense more options. If four days of camp is any indication, it was a smooth move. Johnson is savvy veteran. Add him to a receiving crew with starters Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree -- who looks completely healthy after suffering a torn Achilles in May 2013 -- and Colin Kaepernick will have a lot of options.
Jimmie Ward impresses: The first-round pick has been flashing in training camp. The 49ers took Ward out of Northern Illinois to be the nickel cornerback because of his play-making abilities. He is constantly getting his hands on the ball during practice. He also looks to have the necessary confidence to succeed as an NFL cornerback.
It got me wondering. Where will Johnson rank among the No. 3 receivers in the NFL? After all, he was a top option for the Buffalo Bills before his trade to the 49ers. I enlisted ESPN scout Matt Williamson for some help. Williamson is high on Johnson.
"I would say he is one of the very best 3rd receivers in the NFL," Williamson said. "He has a proven track record. [At 28], he's still more or less in his prime. He doesn't have anything close to elite talents, but gets the most out of what he has."
Williamson thinks the 49ers' three top receivers -- Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Johnson -- is a top-10 group. It could be much higher because tight end Vernon Davis is such a receiving weapon.
They will likely put Hunter on the injured reserve soon and sign a running back. Perhaps Chris Rainey is a possibility. He was cut by the Colts on Monday in a conduct-related move. Rainey had previous off-field issues. Unless there are more injuries, the 49ers probably don’t need another running back for the regular season.
Don’t surprised if the 49ers sign a running back shortly to help with the work load in the training camp and in the preseason and put Hunter on the injured reserve .
This is James’ third elbow dislocation. He did it on his right arm (Sunday’s was his left) at Oregon in 2011. He told reporters then that he did “had the same exact” injury in high school. He didn’t miss much time after both of those injuries.
Don’t expect this saga to end unless he and the San Francisco 49ers quickly agree on a new deal. While things can always turn quickly, there have been no signs anything is on the horizon. The two sides are far apart.
And we know Boone is serious.
Boone shared the holdout spotlight with tight end Vernon Davis in the offseason and into the mandatory minicamp. However, with the threat of a $30,000 daily training camp fine looming, Davis decided to report to training camp in time. Davis still wants a new deal but he is playing nice.
The 49ers wanted Boone to do the same. He is not because he doesn’t think the 49ers are playing nice, either. There’s the standoff.
Boone is 27 and is a solid guard. But he is playing on a deal he signed in 2012. He is the 43rd highest paid guard in the NFL. He is making backup money. He’d like to get paid top-15 guard money.
The 49ers aren’t in the business of tearing up deals. Plus, they don’t want to reward a player while he is holding out if possible.
These two sides are far apart and it may take time to get them closer. There are calculated risks for both sides.
The 49ers are giving several players beginning with Joe Looney the chance to play at Boone’s right guard spot. If Looney, who played well in a limited role last year, the 49ers may gain confidence in him and feel less inclined to pay Boone.
If Looney and others fail to take the next step or if the 49ers suffer another injury on the offensive line, Boone gains some leverage.
It’s all going to take time to play out. The longer it goes, the more tenuous it will get. If we get to September and Boone is still staying away, expect to hear trade chatter. The 49ers do not currently want to trade Boone. They’d rather try to win a Super Bowl with an established, skilled starter than compile a mid-round pick.
But we could get to that point.
Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers will likely only carry two quarterbacks. They finished last season that way. The competition will be to see if undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner can take McLeod Bethel-Thompson's spot on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (5)
The fact that the 49ers drafted Hyde in the second round and Lattimore is healthy means some tough decisions will have to be made. Kendall Hunter tore his ACL Friday and is out for the season. That means James, who will miss the preseason with a dislocated elbow, will very likely make the team. Practice squader Jewell Hampton has been turning heads and he has a chance to make the team.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
The 49ers are so much deeper here this year than last. That means they will likely have to keep six receivers. Lloyd may look good and Patton has too much potential to give up on. That means it could be tough for Kassim Osgood to make it even though he is a special teams cog.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek has a big camp, he may be in trouble. Carrier intrigues the 49ers because of his size and speed.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
- Joe Staley
- Anthony Davis
- Alex Boone
- Mike Iupati
- Daniel Kilgore
- Marcus Martin
- Jonathan Martin
- Joe Looney
Assuming Boone ends his holdout, this is a pretty nice group of eight players. It's improved from last year. A solid veteran like Adam Snyder and a promising youngster like Ryan Seymour will have trouble making the team.
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)
- Justin Smith
- Ray McDonald
- Glenn Dorsey
- Tank Carradine
- Tony Jerod-Eddie
- Quinton Dial
- Ian Williams
- Demarcus Dobbs
This is another power spot. It's deep. Players like Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. Rookie Kaleb Ramsey looked good in the offseaosn but he is dealing wiht injuries, which may impede his push to make the roster.
Most teams carry six linebackers but the 49ers are stacked here, especially with NaVorro Bowman out for about half the season. Because fifth-round pick Lynch is promising he should make the roster. Dan Skuta is an excellent player, but there might not be any room for him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.
This unit is in flux, but I see Johnson making it. Don't be surprised if there is some in-camp jockeying as the 49ers look for the best mix.
Ward, the 49ers' first-round pick, will play nickel cornerback as a rookie, but projects long term as a safety. Ventrone and Spillman should stick because they are great on special teams. Craig Dahl could be in trouble.
This group is set and it's excellent.
- Running back LaMichael James' dislocated left elbow (he will likely miss a month) was the injury issue for the 49ers on Sunday. But there were minor scrapes and bruises. Special teamer Kassim Osgood was getting worked on for leg issue, but he seemed fine by the end of practice. Rookie offensive lineman Fouimalo Fonoti left practice with an undisclosed leg issue.
- Starting cornerbacks Tramaine Brock (ankle) and Chris Culliver (recovering from a torn ACL) ended practice early Sunday. But it appears to be simply precautionary for both players. The young cornerbacks got plenty of work in the practice.
- Second-year receiver Quinton Patton had a nice day Sunday. He was very active. Patton has a chance to develop after he finished last season strong.
- Receiver Michael Crabtree and second-year tight end Vance McDonald continued their strong training camps Sunday.
- 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said guard Joe Looney has had some “wow moments.” Looney is working with the first team at right guard with Alex Boone holding out. Looney will very likely start Aug. 7 at Baltimore in the first preseason game unless Boone ends his holdout soon. That, by the way, appears unlikely.
- Harbaugh likes the way all five of his quarterbacks are looking in camp. If I had to guess I’d say McLeod Bethel-Thompson is back on the practice squad with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert on the active roster. That would leave out Josh Johnson and Kory Faulkner. Things can change, but that’s the guess four days into training camp.
- Harbaugh said young linebackers Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas are both looking good. That makes Harbaugh happy. He coached them both at Stanford.
- The 49ers activated rookies, center Marcus Martin (third round) and linebacker Aaron Lynch (fifth). They are now ready to practice.
- Nickname of the day: Osgood called massive English defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye “Big London.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers began training camp Thursday with running back being a crowded position.
It is suddenly thin after two early injuries.
Running back/returner LaMichael James dislocated his left elbow, a league source confirmed. He is expected to miss about a month, meaning he will likely miss the entire preseason.
Barring a setback, he should be ready to play Week 1 at the Dallas Cowboys.
James, a 2012 second-round pick out of Oregon, was considered a bubble player when camp started. But valuable backup running back Kendall Hunter tore his ACL on Friday and is out for the season. James is expected to take Hunter's place.
Prior to James' injury, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was high on the young running back.
The early days of training camp are proving that.
Several young players are shining at the position and the 49ers look to have plenty of options behind starters Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Glenn Dorsey in the 3-4 alignment.
Coach Jim Harbaugh has praised several of the young players because of their early success in camp. Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs, key backups last season, are taking the next step. But so are 2013 draft picks Tank Carradine and Quentin Dial.
Carradine, a second-round pick who missed all of last season with a knee injury, looks fantastic. Harbaugh praised his strength and said Carradine, who likely would have been a top-20 pick last year had he not gotten hurt at Florida State in 2012, has ‘heavy hands.” Dial, who played some as a rookie, has been dominant at times in practice.
Another interesting defensive lineman is Lawrence Okoye. The former British Olympic discus thrower is in his second NFL training camp with no previous football experience. He displayed his immense strength in practice Saturday by blowing Jonathan Martin up in a drill.
“I feel like a football player now,” Okoye said Sunday.
Still, Okoye is green and could likely use some seasoning on the practice squad.
Another young defensive lineman to watch is seventh-round pick Kaleb Ramsey of Boston College. He is dealing with injuries, but he was impressive in the offseason workouts.
If there is a player that best embodies the "49ers Way," it just might be Tramaine Brock. He has skyrocketed up the 49ers’ depth chart. Signed as undrafted free agent four years ago, Brock is now the 49ers’ No. 1 cornerback. This time last year he was essentially just a special teams player. Injuries moved him up the cornerback chain into a starting job.
He is clearly the 49ers’ best cornerback and he has been a major standout in the early going of camp.
The 49ers have every reason to be excited about Brock, who signed a four-year contract extension last November. He improved so much last season once he got on the field and continues to grow this summer.
Harbaugh raves about Brock's work ethic. Brock has had a perfect attendance in the offseason workouts in all three of Harbaugh’s three seasons with the 49ers, the coach said. Harbaugh said Brock‘s preparation is "at the highest level.”