Quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers are qualified to teach graduate courses on the art of the hard count and how to draw opponents offside. Colin Kaepernick is still at the 101 level, but he’s shown potential.
The 49ers quarterback’s inflection Sunday prompted three penalties by the Steelers. He also induced Minnesota to jump offside in Week 1 and nearly victimized the Vikings again on a fourth-and-short scenario. One of their linemen jumped, but so did 49ers guard Alex Boone, who was flagged.
Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst said the hard count has been stressed this offseason by head coach Jim Tomsula, whose specialty is the defensive line and who knows that a savvy quarterback can use a lineman’s aggression against him.
“He’s made it obvious to Kap that it’s a nice weapon to use,” Chryst said Thursday.
Chryst said mastering the hard count is part of Kaepernick’s maturation. That the 49ers also are getting to the line of scrimmage quickly – unlike in previous seasons – also gives Kaepernick the opportunity to use it as a weapon.
“To me, those things happen because they get antsy,” Kaepernick said of the defense. “They’re trying to get a jump on the ball. We’ll take advantage of anything we can when it comes to a defense.”
Chryst said the trick is to practice the hard count a lot in the offseason and use it judiciously during games.
“Steve Bono was one of the best I’ve been around,” Chryst said of the former quarterback who played for the 49ers and six other NFL teams. “You really have to work on it in the OTAs and in the minicamps and training camp. Because if you think, ‘Hey, this is a good week to do this,’ you’ll get your own guys just as much as theirs.”
The 49ers have been flagged for three false starts – one each for Boone, center Marcus Martin and right tackle Erik Pears.
Hayne sells – Jarryd Hayne’s No. 38 is the fifth-best-selling jersey over the first two weeks of the season, according to NFLshop.com. Not surprisingly, most of the sales are coming from Australia.
Hayne has rushed for just 16 yards and hasn’t had a big punt or kick return, but his journey to the NFL has been breathlessly followed in Australia, where he starred in the National Rugby League.
The only four jerseys hotter than Hayne’s: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Kaepernick’s and linebacker NaVorro Bowman’s jerseys also made the top 25. The 49ers, Patriots and Seahawks were the only teams with three players in the top 25. Hayne and Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch were the only running backs in the top 25.
Injuries – Running back Reggie Bush (calf) was the only player who missed practice Thursday. Wide receiver Bruce Ellington (ankle) and tight end Vance McDonald (knee) were limited. Bowman returned after resting on Wednesday.