The snaps have been even and so has the competition.
As promised, quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick have taken an equal amount of practice repetitions with the 49ers’ first-team offense so far in training camp. As would be expected, both have been sharper while working alongside would-be starters than the second team.
“We try and even that out as best we can,” coach Chip Kelly said. “… Whoever starts a drill, you know, the next drill up, the next time we have a team period, then someone else will start that drill. So who starts the first one isn’t the most important thing. It’s just – let’s get some quality reps for both Blaine and Kap, and I think they’ve done a good job taking advantage of that.”
Tuesday’s session was the 49ers’ first in pads, and the aggressive defense seemed to disrupt the offensive rhythm a bit. There were several false starts while Gabbert had three passes batted down.
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Through three practices, Kaepernick has been more apt to break out of the pocket and pick up yards with his feet, something Kelly largely didn’t have in three seasons with Philadelphia. Gabbert, however, has thrown the two deepest passes of training camp.
On Monday, he connected deep down the left sideline to Jerome Simpson. A day later, Torrey Smith beat cornerback Jimmie Ward on a post route for a 50-yard touchdown.
Kelly noted the preseason games – the 49ers host the Texans on Aug. 14 – will be critical.
“The other thing with the quarterbacks, they’re still, they’re off limits,” Kelly said. “They’re not going to get hit in any of our training sessions and there’s no quarterback in the NFL or even college that probably gets hit in practice. So really the big determination with those guys will be the preseason games.”
Et cetera – Tuesday’s padded practice ran 2 hours and 10 minutes, which is about 30 minutes longer than the first two. That’s still a far snappier session than the three-hour sessions the 49ers had in recent years, and is why Kelly’s practice schedule has drawn raves from players. Per the collective bargaining agreement, the 49ers will not practice Wednesday.
▪ Defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey is being held out of seven-on-seven and team drills as he continues to come back from a November ACL injury. The veteran, however, has been taking part in all other drills, including the grueling sled work favored by position coach Jerry Azzinaro. Dorsey has stood out in those sessions.
▪ Ray-Ray Armstrong played inside linebacker next to NaVorro Bowman on Tuesday. Armstrong stood out on successive plays with a hit on running back Mike Davis in the backfield and a knockdown of a Gabbert pass.