Christian Ponder made his first throws in a 49ers uniform Wednesday and, well, looked like a guy who’d been painting his house and doing yard work for the past few months.
Which is what he’d been doing.
“I’m a little out of shape,” the quarterback admitted. “I’ve got to get back in shape, knock the rust off a little bit. But in a few days I’ll be good.”
Ponder spent last summer with the Raiders and was signed by the Denver Broncos during the 2015 season when Peyton Manning was injured. But his phone was mostly quiet recently until the 49ers called Monday after they learned Thad Lewis suffered a season-ending torn ACL. Ponder flew from Phoenix, where he lives, to Santa Clara on Tuesday.
Ponder and his new teammates then hopped on a plane to Denver for joint practices with the Broncos.
“I studied the whole plane flight, studied last night, studied this morning,” Ponder said. “And then they threw me in the fire, which was good.”
Ponder has some admirers on the 49ers’ coaching staff.
Coach Chip Kelly considered him last year for his Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks corps. Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins tried to get Ponder to attend Georgia Tech, where Modkins was an assistant coach. Ponder chose Florida State.
Ponder, a first-round draft pick in 2011, recently had a workout with the Arizona Cardinals. But he mostly stayed in shape by lifting weights in his garage and throwing at a net in the front yard.
As expected, Ponder’s timing was off with his new set of receivers Wednesday. He connected on 3 of 8 attempts during team drills.
But Ponder also had one of the nicest passes of the afternoon during seven-on-on-seven sessions when his throw to DiAndre Campbell floated into the receiver’s hands in the corner of the end zone.
“He’ll be fine,” Modkins said of Ponder. “He’s smart. He’s athletic. He’ll be able to do the things we ask him to do, and I expect him to be able to catch up to speed pretty quickly.”
Et cetera – While the 49ers and Houston Texans made it through last week’s scrimmage without any fights, there were at least three skirmishes Wednesday. The most animated involved 49ers linebackers Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks, who tangled with Denver offensive linemen James Ferentz and Dillon Day.
▪ Quinton Patton practiced Wednesday after sitting out team drills Tuesday, but fellow receivers Bruce Ellington (ankle) and DeAndre Smelter (lower body) were idle. General manager Trent Baalke said it might be another week before Smelter returns.
▪ Defensive lineman Arik Armstead (shoulder) worked on pass-rush moves with Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman Charles Haley but did not participate in drills against the Broncos.