PHOENIX -- Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 10-week offseason session in Arizona is over, and the man who worked most closely with him believes the time spent was beneficial for all involved.
Kaepernick logged five days a week, beginning Jan. 12, working out, watching film and fine-tuning his mechanics with quarterback coaches Dennis Gile and Mike Giavondo. Two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner spent time with Kaepernick for approximately 10 sessions during that time.
Kaepernick completed 60.5 percent of his pass attempts last year in his second full season as the 49ers starter. He threw for a career-best 3,369 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But his passer rating dropped to a career-low 86.4 and the 49ers finished out of the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
His arm strength and ability to drive the ball down the field has never been in question, but Kaepernick’s accuracy and touch on the shorter throws has been seen as an area in which he can improve.
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“I don’t think there was a throw he couldn’t make when he first got here,” Gile told CSNBayArea.com on Sunday. “I just think the consistency and efficiency of it was what we wanted to get better at, and I think that’s where we made tremendous strides. He became a lot more consistent and efficient with those balls.”
General manager Trent Baalke suggested last month Kaepernick would set out to hone his “footwork, delivery, changing platforms, throwing platforms, arm angle,” as well as adjusting the velocity on his shorter throws.
The short-passing game figures to be more of an emphasis this season with the addition of free-agent running back Reggie Bush, who has averaged more than 50 receptions per season in his nine-year NFL career.
“We worked on that form to get it over the linebacker, touch it over,” Gile said. “We worked on his deep ball, getting it up and down and dropping it in the bucket. I think we worked on every type of scenario there is. And when we were done training this past week, I didn’t see a throw he could not make.”
Gile declined to reveal specific issues that were ironed out during their time together, but he said Kaepernick was an ideal student and showed a willingness to absorb a lot of information from every available source.
“He made strides on some bio-mechanical things and understanding of the game, from a different standpoint, from Kurt or whoever,” Gile said.
“The thing that blew me away the most was how coachable the guy is. He listens to you. He has done stuff a certain way for so long. The first time I told him to do something, he did it and never went back to the old way he was doing it. To me, that’s pretty incredible. It’s hard to stop doing something you’ve been doing your whole life.”
The 49ers’ offseason program is scheduled to begin April 6 in Santa Clara under first-year head coach Jim Tomsula. From the end of the season until the start of the official program, players are not allowed to work with a team’s coaches under terms of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.
This is the first offseason of Kaepernick’s NFL career that he sought the assistance of independent coaches in the offseason.
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Every weekday for the past 10 weeks, Kaepernick conditioned and lifted weights at the EXOS training facility in Phoenix from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Then, he would spend time in the film room, work on his mechanics and throw passes until approximately 1 p.m.
He worked with 49ers wide receivers Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington, as well as players from other NFL teams, including Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, Ricardo Lockette and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Top draft prospects Kevin White, Dorial Green-Beckham and Jaelen Strong also regularly attended the workouts.
Gile said Kaepernick always showed up early and was the last person to leave. He set the tone for everybody during those workouts.
“He was pushing everybody to get better,” Gile said. “He’s a really good leader.”
But what separates Kaepernick, according to Gile, is his attitude and intelligence.
“He’s a very grateful, coachable, humble, respectful guy,” said Gile, who said he anticipates continuing to work with Kaepernick in the future. “He’s such a great kid. He’s a great human being.
“If anyone thinks that Colin can’t get through his reads, or (say), ‘Why isn’t he going from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4?’ There’s a lot more that goes into that. That’s for him and his team to figure out. But Colin is super-smart, super-intelligent. He gets it. He sees it. He understands it. He has a photographic memory that’s ridiculous. Colin was really special before he got here, obviously, physically and mentally. . . . His ceiling is super-high."