SANTA CLARA – Jerome Simpson is out of the picture in the competition for the job as the 49ers’ No. 3 wide receiver for at least the first six games of the regular season.
The NFL announced on Tuesday that Simpson was suspended for the first six games of the season due to violations of the league’s substance abuse policy that pre-dated his May signing with the 49ers.
Simpson was in competition with Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington for the No. 3 role behind starters Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. But Kaepernick said he is getting plenty of work with each of the team’s wideouts.
“We’ve had a lot of reps with guys other than Torrey, Jerome and Anquan,” Kaepernick said on Wednesday. “So moving forward, it’s not something we’re shying away from or uncomfortable with. We have people who have proven to us that they can go out and be good football players for us.”
For the first three weeks of training camp, Simpson was one of those players.
“He does a lot of things well -- very fast, very athletic, has a good feel for the game,” Kaepernick said. “He’s been an all-around good teammate, someone who’s come in willing to learn, willing to do everything he can to help this team.”
Patton, a third-year player, is looking to re-assert himself as the 49ers’ third receiver after filling that role in the playoffs his rookie season.
Ellington supplanted him on the depth chart last season. Patton suited up for just four games late last year and caught three passes for 44 yards.
“I have great trust in him, as a person, as a football player,” Kaepernick said of Patton, an offseason workout partner. “He’s someone that is constantly learning, constantly talking to me about what I’m looking at. And I think that’s really helped our chemistry on the field and his development being a reliable receiver.”
Ellington’s bid to be the third receiver has taken some major hits. First, he missed most of the offseason program with a hamstring strain. He is nursing another leg injury that has kept him out of practices for more than a week.
“That’s something he’s working through right now,” Kaepernick said. "For us, we have to deal with it as it comes to us. Every time he’s out there, we’re working trying to make sure we can get on the same page.”
And that’s what Kaepernick is also experiencing with Smith, who the 49ers signed to a five-year, $40 million contract as a free agent. In the exhibition opener, Kaepernick and Smith failed to hook up on a deep pass against the Houston Texans. Kaepernick overthrew Smith, who also failed to take the most direct angle to the pass.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to be able to talk about it, and really work on the fine details of where we want to be hitting that throw and how we want to go about doing those plays,” Kaepernick said. “That gave us a good foundation to start.”