Ed Zurga The Associated Press Colin Kaepernick said he'd prefer to wear his regular gear in practice instead of a black jersey typically worn by a player who is hurt or returning from an injury.

49ers notes: Harbaugh sends defense a message

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 - 10:24 am

SANTA CLARA – Coach Jim Harbaugh on Wednesday solved the Mystery of the Black Jersey.

For the last two days in practice, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has worn a black jersey, typically donned by someone injured or returning from an injury. Kaepernick, however, is healthy.

Instead, Kaepernick's black jersey is meant to reinforce the rule that quarterbacks aren't to be hit, an edict that outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks nearly broke in a recent practice.

"Felt like as the defense was running a stunt, and Ahmad came free and was a little too close to Colin," Harbaugh said. "So (the jersey is) a way to re-emphasize to stay away from Colin Kaepernick, so we don't get anything freakish happen in practice."

Harbaugh also used the word "freakish" Friday to explain why Kaepernick played only four snaps against Kansas City. "In the second week of preseason, we didn't want anything freakish to happen to him," he said.

Kaepernick said he didn't know if the odd-colored jersey – it has a red No. 7 – made the defense more cautious, but he made it clear he doesn't want special treatment.

"I'm not a fan of the jersey," Kaepernick said.

High praise – Kaepernick received a notable compliment from former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, who on ESPN said the 49ers' quarterback "could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. I love his skill set. I think the sky's the limit."

Jaworski also picked the 49ers to repeat as NFC champions.

Relayed Jaworski's words, Kaepernick said, "To me, it's a great honor that he said that. Very flattered by it, but at the same time I haven't played a full season yet."

Kaepernick started 10 games last season, including two NFC playoff games and the Super Bowl, and the 49ers were 7-3.

Hunter to play – Harbaugh said running back Kendall Hunter would get some snaps Sunday against Minnesota and rookie tight end Vance McDonald, who missed the Kansas City game, also would be back in action.

Hunter, recovering from an Achilles' tear in November, returned to limited practice Aug. 10 but wasn't fully cleared until this week. Hunter said he's at full strength and isn't thinking about his injury.

"As soon as you touch the ball, everything else goes away," he said.

Injury update – Backup safety Ray "Bubba" Ventrone was back at practice Wednesday after missing an extended period with a leg injury. Ventrone played for special-teams coach Brad Seely in Cleveland and could land a spot on the roster as a special-teams ace.

Linebacker Nate Stupar and safety Darcel McBath still are out. McBath injured his foot chasing down Kansas City punt returner Devon Wylie (Granite Bay High School) on Friday and is likely to be out for a while.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

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