SANTA CLARA -- School's out for summer for the 49ers -- most of them, at least -- after Thursday's final practice of a three-day mandatory minicamp. Veterans are free to take off until the start of training camp, which won't be until the end of July. Some, like quarterback Colin Kaepernick, are expected to hang around and train during the interim. Rookies, meanwhile, will be on hand for another week.
Thursday's session was not as crisp for the offense as the day prior. There were a number of dropped passes, including by Bruce Ellington, DiAndre Campbell, Dres Anderson, Carlos Hyde and DuJuan Harris.
There also were a couple of injuries. Tackle Trent Brown, whose conditioning appears to be a bit of an issue, seemed to hurt his right knee during a sled drill early in the practice. He was held out of all team drills. Erik Pears handled right-tackle duties with the first-string offense; rookies Fahn Cooper and John Theus alternated that role with the second- and third-team offenses. Brown’s injury did not seem serious.
Cornerback Chris Davis, who has been the top nickel cornerback for most of the OTAs and minicamp, appeared to hurt his ankle. He was walking without a limp after practice but did not return. Another cornerback, Dontae Johnson, did not take part in the minicamp after getting hurt last week. The starters at cornerback remain Tramaine Brock and Jimmie Ward, although they switched spots Thursday -- Brock was on the right and Ward on the left.
One more player who sat out the very end -- outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who gave Theus a couple of whacks across the facemask following a team-drill snap. Theus did not respond. Coach Chip Kelly sent Lynch off the field where he also was paid a visit by general manager Trent Baalke.
The first-team offensive line on Thursday was composed of: LT Joe Staley, LG Zane Beadles, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Andrew Tiller and RT Pears. Tiller and Brandon Thomas both have practiced at right guard with the first team at various points this spring. Rookie Joshua Garnett, who took his first snaps Tuesday at left guard, was mostly a right guard in the last two days of practice. Garnett also is on the first-team field-goal protection unit. Stanford head coach David Shaw and several members of his staff were on hand Thursday to watch Garnett and fellow Stanford products Devon Cajuste and Shayne Skov.
Kaepernick stuck to his routine of taking part in everything but 11-on-11 situations. He had a span during 7-on-7 drills when he threw two straight interceptions. On the first, he found no open receivers, rolled to his right and tried to hit rookie receiver Aaron Burbridge. Nickel cornerback Keith Reaser instead broke on the ball and made the interception.
On the next, he fired a pass on a crossing pattern to Anderson, who was covered by Brock. The ball popped into the air and was intercepted by linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong, one of his two interceptions on the day. (Armstrong also came down with a Blaine Gabbert pass during 7-on-7s on a pass that was deflected by one of the screens the 49ers staff sets up to create throwing lanes for the quarterbacks.)
Kaepernick's best pass was a deep one down the sideline to Anderson. He had to tuck it in between cornerback Rashard Robinson, who had shallow coverage, and the safety deep.
Kaepernick is expected to compete with Gabbert for the starting role when training camp begins, and Kelly said there will be plenty of opportunities for all the quarterbacks. “We have enough reps,” he said. “We get enough reps during the course of training camp and during the course of our training where it’s never been a concern for us in terms of, ‘Geez, we’re not going to get enough looks out there.’ So we have enough reps for everybody.”
One of the more lively events of the practice was a field-goal competition between the first group, whose kicker is the old timer Phil Dawson, and the second group, which features undrafted rookie John Lunsford. Both made their final kick from 58 yards away. Dawson's just made it over the crossbar; Lunsford's would have been good from another five yards out.