DENVER – Christian Ponder’s confidence took a beating in Minnesota and he quickly went from expected franchise quarterback to the scrap heap.
On Saturday night, in just his fourth full day with the 49ers, he played more than any of the team’s other quarterbacks in a 31-24 victory over the Denver Broncos in the second exhibition game for both teams.
Not only did Ponder play a lot, he played well. Ponder was on the field for the 49ers’ final 24 snaps and led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
“It was fun,” Ponder said. “I haven’t had that much fun on a football field in a long time. It was enjoyable, and it was great that we won the game. I’m glad it went well for us.”
Ponder’s 22-yard touchdown run gave the 49ers a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter. He provided a little insurance with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dres Anderson less than four minutes later.
Ponder completed seven of his eight pass attempts for 86 yards with a spiffy passer rating of 151.0.
After spending four seasons with the Vikings, he went to training camp last year with the Raiders before being cut. He spent two weeks last year on the Broncos’ roster but did not see any game action.
The 49ers signed him on Tuesday to replace veteran quarterback Thad Lewis, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Ponder was in the process of painting his house in Phoenix when the 49ers called.
“I think what helped me the most was stepping away for a year,” Ponder said. “I think my confidence hurt toward the end of my years in Minnesota, and I think that affected my game. I took a step back and took a breather and came back with a different approach.
“I worked on things mechanically in the offseason, and was building my confidence there. And to go out, had the mindset that I just wanted to go out and have fun. I didn’t have too much fun playing the last few years, so it was great to go out and have fun again.”
Ponder said the 49ers had installed 40 plays as part of the team’s offensive plan for Saturday’s game. Ponder entered the game with knowledge of about half of those plays. He added new plays to his arsenal as the game went on.
“The one that he threw the touchdown on, we just went over with him, he never ran it,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “He threw it up to Dres for the touchdown.
“They just knew what they were doing, just trying to gang up on the run game, putting nine guys in the box so we have to have some force on the play action. I thought for Christian just getting here and taking snaps on Wednesday to perform like he did was kind of refreshing.”
Here’s how the 49ers divided their playing time on offense, defense and special teams:
36 -- C Marcus Martin, LG Joshua Garnett, RT Anthony Davis, LT Erik Pears
31 -- WR Jerome Simpson
25 -- WR Aaron Burbridge
24 -- QB Christian Ponder, TE Je’Ron Hamm
21 -- QB Jeff Driskel, TE Rory Anderson
20 -- RG Ian Silberman
19 -- WR DeAndrew White
18 -- TE Blake Bell
16 -- QB Blaine Gabbert, RT Trent Brown, LT Joe Staley, C Daniel Kilgore, LG Zane Beadles, RG Andrew Tiller, RG Brandon Thomas, RB Kelvin Taylor
15 -- WR Torrey Smith, WR DiAndre Campbell, TE Bruce Miller
13 -- RB Carlos Hyde
12 -- RB Mike Davis, RB DuJuan Harris, WR Quinton Patton
11 -- TE Garrett Celek, WR Dres Anderson, WR Devon Cajuste
10 -- TE Vance McDonald
9 -- T John Theus, G Fahn Cooper, C Alex Balducci, G Blake Muir
8 -- RB Kendall Gaskins
6 -- WR Bryce Treggs, T Colin Kelly
3 -- T Norman Price
53 -- S Marcus Cromartie
51 -- DL Ronald Blair
49 -- CB Rashard Robinson
46 -- CB Kenneth Acker
44 -- CB Dontae Johnson, OLB Marcus Rush
43 -- DL Demetrius Cherry
41 -- LB Shayne Skov
39 -- DL B.J. McBryde, DL Garrison Smith
35 -- OLB Corey Lemonier, CB Chris Davis
34 -- LB Michael Wilhoite
32 -- LB Nick Bellore
30 -- OLB Jason Fanaika
27 -- S Jaquiski Tartt, CB Keith Reaser, OLB Tank Carradine
26 -- CB Prince Charles Iworah
23 -- OLB Ahmad Brooks
22 -- S Eric Reid, S Antoine Bethea, LB NaVorro Bowman, CB Tramaine Brock, LB Ray-Ray Armstrong, CB Jimmie Ward, CB Cleveland Wallace, DL Darren Lake
20 -- NT Mike Purcell, LB Eli Harold, S Jered Bell, LB Wynton McManis
19-- LB Gerald Hodges
17 -- DL Quinton Dial
8 -- DL Tony Jerod-Eddie
15 -- Acker
14 -- Campbell
13 -- P Bradley Pinion
12 -- Lemonier
11 -- LS Kyle Nelson, Gaskins, Iworah
10 -- Miller, J.Bell
9 -- Johnson, Fanaika
8 -- Anderson, Cromartie, Wilhoite, Bellore, Tartt, Armstrong
7 -- R.Anderson, M.Davis, Rush, Skov, Reaser, McManis
6 -- White, B.Bell, Harris, Hodges
5 -- K John Lunsford, Patton, Harold
4 -- McDonald, Theus, Price, Blair, Robinson, C.Davis, Ward, Wallace
3 -- K Phil Dawson, Martin, Burbridge, Cajuste, Celek, Treggs, Cherry, Purcell, Hodges
2 -- Garnett, A.Davis, Silberman, Brown, Thomas, Taylor, Staley, Kilgore, Beadles, Tiller, Cooper, Balducci, McBryde, Brooks, Lake, Reid, Bethea, Bowman, Brock
1 -- Muir, Smith, Carradine, Jerod-Eddie
Did not play -- QB Colin Kaepernick (arm), RB Shaun Draughn (ribs), WR Bruce Ellington (ankle), WR DeAndre Smelter (hamstring), WR Eric Rogers (knee), CB Will Redmond (knee), DB L.J. McCray (knee), LB Aaron Lynch (eye), DL Glenn Dorsey (knee), DL Arik Armstead (shoulder), DL DeForest Buckner (leg).