SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick made some alterations to his mechanics in the offseason, but now the adjustments are focused on his targets.
“What we’re talking about more is reading the body language of some of these new receivers,” 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst said on Monday.
Kaepernick is learning to build chemistry with wide receiver Torrey Smith, as the players work together on the practice field in their first training camp together. Soon, he will also be developing a rapport with Reggie Bush, a pass-catcher out of the backfield who has been held out of the first two practices.
One of the challenges for a quarterback working with new receivers, Chryst said, is to become familiar with how a receiver runs routes and apply that to the leverage and body positioning of the nearest defenders to deliver passes that only his intended target can catch.
Chryst said he saw offseason growth in Kaepernick after each of his first four NFL seasons. Camp is a time for fine-tuning. Kaepernick was sacked 52 times last season – a number that is not totally unexpected from a quarterback of his athleticism. Chryst pointed out that Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick were also sacked a lot in their careers.
“They get sacked a lot because they’re looking to make that dynamic play because they have rare attributes,” Chryst said. “And so there’s discretion. How do you do it? You have to practice it.”
He pointed out the opening play from Sunday’s practice. Kaepernick was on the move, rolling to his left. About 40 yards down the field, Kaepernick spotted Anquan Boldin and unleashed a throw that hung in the air long enough for cornerback Tramaine Brock to intercept.
“He thought he saw Anquan, so he thought he was going to have fun and cut one loose,” Chryst said. “Now, he had 20 yards to run and could step out of bounds. As a coach you tend to remind him that might have been the best choice. But he’s back to camp and he’s having fun.
"Right now those turnovers are calorie-free, but we know we got to tighten that down once the games begin. That’s using his athletic ability, but it ends up being a negative. So that’s camp. Welcome to camp.”