SANTA CLARA – The 49ers wrapped up their final week of voluntary organized team activities on Thursday.
The team will reconvene on Tuesday for the first of three days of mandatory practices.
The only player eligible to participate who has not regularly attended the OTAs is nose tackle Ian Williams, who chose to rehab from offseason ankle surgery in Florida. Williams was at the 49ers’ facility on Wednesday, wearing a walking boot on his left foot.
Here are 10 observations from 49ers practice on Thursday:
1. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still not cleared to participate in any drills after surgeries on his left shoulder, right thumb and left knee. But, for the first time, he was spotted on the practice field throwing passes during the pre-practice portion of the day. He appeared to be throwing the ball at approximately three-quarters velocity.
It is not known whether Kaepernick will receive clearance to participate in next week’s minicamp, but it is believed he will not be cleared until the opening of training camp in late-July.
2. Cornerback Dontae Johnson, who was lining up with the second-team defense, sustained an apparent left leg or ankle injury near the end of practice. He remained on the turf a couple of minutes, as the team’s athletic training staff examined him with coach Chip Kelly right there. Johnson got to his feet with some assistance and had a noticeable limp and he moved under his own power.
3. Offensive lineman Colin Kelly saw action with the third-team offense at center. Kelly played right tackle for the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League before he was given his release to sign with the 49ers. Kelly’s inexperience snapping the ball was apparent, as he had at least two errant snaps during the practice. Converted defensive lineman Alex Balducci, who had been seeing action at center, moved to right guard with the third-teamers.
4. Andrew Tiller lined up at right guard with the 49ers’ first-team offense. In previous sessions open to the media, Brandon Thomas was in that position. Thomas was held out of team drills due to unknown reasons. Tiller started four games at right guard and three at left guard last season and generally played well.
The favorite to win the starting job is Stanford product Joshua Garnett, whom the 49ers selected in the first round of the draft. Garnett is ineligible to attend the 49ers’ offseason program until next week due to NFL rules that stipulate a rookie is prohibited from joining workouts until classes at his school have concluded.
5. It was a rough day for 49ers receiver Quinton Patton, who had multiple catchable passes glance off his hands during 7-on-7 and team drills. Bruce Ellington got off to a very good start, showing the best burst among the team’s wide receivers while hauling in three passes from Blaine Gabbert. But Ellington’s day ended with two drops. DeAndre Smelter, who is apparently managing a leg issue, rode a stationary bike at the beginning of practice.
6. The best defensive play of the day was turned in by cornerback Keith Reaser, who got his hands on a Thad Lewis pass intended for DeAndrew White. The ball deflected off White’s helmet and Reaser recovered to make the interception of the pass.
7. During a 10-minute team drill that began at the 20-yard line, the offense managed to get the ball into the end zone once in four tries. That came from the third unit, as rookie Jeff Driskel made a nice throw to Bryce Treggs for a 5-yard touchdown against the coverage of rookie safety Jered Bell.
8. Williams, Glenn Dorsey and Ahmad Brooks did not practice. Dorsey is still rehabbing from ACL surgery in November. Brooks was seen working out on a side field. Through a team spokesman, Brooks said he is fine and that his condition is “nothing big.” Safety L.J. McCray, whose season ended after eight games with a torn ACL, is back on the field. He saw action with the third-team defense.
9. Jimmie Ward continues to lineup at right cornerback, and appears to be in serious consideration for a starting job after spending his first two seasons as the team’s nickel back and a backup safety. Chris Davis again lined up at nickel back against the slot receiver when the 49ers went with five defensive backs.
10. Journeyman running back Shaun Draughn caught 25 passes in six games with the 49ers last season, and appears to be an early favorite to win the job as Carlos Hyde’s backup.
“He’s a professional football player,” 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said. “The way he handles his business is the first thing that jumps out at you. But on the field, Shaun can do everything good. He gives you some versatility. He gives you the ability to create matchup problems.”