SANTA CLARA Colin Kaepernick whose throws sometimes have sailed, soared or been too hot to handle this spring left a far better impression Thursday as the 49ers veterans enter a long break until training camp.
Kaepernick was the most impressive quarterback on the field during the 21/2-hour session, connecting with receivers on long and perhaps more notably short throws.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said Kaepernick threw only one incompletion and two other passes were dropped on a "near-perfect day" by the second-year quarterback from Nevada.
Kaepernick's best throw may have been a bullet to wide receiver Kyle Williams at the goal line. With Kaepernick facing the first-team defense, his targets appeared to be covered, with Williams shadowed by safety Donte Whitner.
Kaepernick's forte, however, is his arm strength. And he fired the ball over the middle perhaps 20 yards so quickly that it seemed to surprise Whitner, who probably was in position to knock away a lesser-armed passer's attempt.
Kaepernick also had a deep pass down the left sideline to undrafted rookie Brian Tyms, who helped make Kaepernick look good by going up and taking the ball from cornerback Anthony Mosley and safety Mark LeGree.
Perhaps most noteworthy were some of Kaepernick's throws close to the end zone. The critique this spring has been that his short passes have lacked touch. But three plays after the play to Tyms, Kaepernick passed to tight end Konrad Reuland for a goal-line touchdown. Later in the practice, he connected with tight end Vernon Davis on a short touchdown pass in the back of the end zone.
For the first time in years, there's no competition for the 49ers' starting quarterback job.
"Alex (Smith) definitely separated himself further than what he was," Harbaugh said. "He's the solid starter. I don't think anybody questions that."
While Kaepernick is No. 2, Harbaugh said Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien also have looked good this spring and that the pecking order behind Smith isn't "set in stone."
Harbaugh said training camp, scheduled to begin July 26, and exhibition games would help sort out the depth chart.
"I've said it before: All three of those quarterbacks will play in the NFL for a long time, in our opinion," Harbaugh said.
Window's closing Strike while the roster's stacked. That's the message veteran defensive end Justin Smith is sending to his younger teammates this offseason.
"With some of the guys we have, and with free agency and things like that, we're not going to be able to keep this team together forever," he said. "Even age-wise, you know? The whole team won't be the same."
Smith will turn 33 in September. And while last season may have been the best of his 11-year career, he realizes that his window for a Super Bowl championship won't remain open for long.
"Yeah, I figure I've got three more good years in me, four more good years," Smith said. "You know, I don't want to be the guy who comes in the third-down guy plays 17 years. So, I'm figuring, let's go. Time is of the essence for me."
Banks to work out Monday Brian Banks, the 26-year-old linebacker from Southern California who was wrongfully incarcerated for five years, tweeted Thursday that he plans to work out for the 49ers on Monday.
Banks who already has worked out for the Seahawks, Chargers and Chiefs likely would participate in a rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. He has spent the last two days at the Seahawks' minicamp, but he said he hasn't been offered a deal by the Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll, who recruited Banks to play at USC a decade ago.
Et cetera Harbaugh said second-round pick LaMichael James, who has been unable to practice because Oregon had not had its graduation ceremony, was expected in Santa Clara later Thursday. He said the running back would participate in a three-day rookie minicamp next week.
Harbaugh said he hasn't planned any vacations this summer, but he's leaving today for a week to build houses in Peru. Harbaugh said St. Raymond's Parish in Menlo Park is organizing the outing.