San Francisco 49ers

Playing the role of Cam Newton ... Christian Ponder?

Cam Newton is moving on

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton spoke about the helmet to helmet hits he took last Thursday during action against the Denver Broncos. Newton also said that his focus is the San Francisco 49ers now.
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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton spoke about the helmet to helmet hits he took last Thursday during action against the Denver Broncos. Newton also said that his focus is the San Francisco 49ers now.

Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick reputedly had the two most powerful arms in the 2011 draft, and they often have been compared since.

But another quarterback from that draft class, Christian Ponder, is playing the role of Newton, the Panthers’ starting quarterback and reigning NFL MVP, in 49ers practices this week. Kaepernick, the 49ers’ No. 2 passer behind Blaine Gabbert, continues to receive a portion of the first-team snaps.

“We get 12 reps in a period, and Blaine’s getting nine and Kap’s getting three,” Chip Kelly said Thursday. “ ... As we get going, that may change, but that’s just kind of what the plan was this week.”

Kelly said Ponder spent a lot of time last week watching film of Rams quarterback Case Keenum – a role Ponder played to much acclaim – and has done the same this week with Newton. The 49ers’ defense limited Keenum to 130 passing yards and a 34.2 passer rating and intercepted him twice in Monday’s 28-0 victory.

“I think I was seeing ghosts,” Keenum told the Los Angeles Times. “I was seeing things that weren’t there. I wasn’t trusting myself and my abilities.”

The Panthers selected Newton with the top pick in 2011. Gabbert was 10th, Ponder 12th and Kaepernick 36th that year.

Kaepernick and Newton have been among the league’s most prolific running quarterbacks, but Kelly said the 49ers’ read-option system is not the same as Carolina’s more power-based attack that takes advantage of Newton’s 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame.

“I don’t see a lot of similarities between what we do offensively and what Carolina does offensively,” Kelly said.

Dorsey ready? – Defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey, whom Kelly last week said was on track to play Monday, instead was held out.

But Kelly said Thursday that Dorsey hadn’t had a setback as he continues to recover from a November ACL tear.

“Coach Azz (defensive-line coach Jerry Azzinaro) and the trainers thought an extra week would be better for him,” Kelly said. “So we’re hoping we get him out here this week.”

Kelly said Dorsey has participated in team drills this week. The 49ers had six defensive linemen in uniform for Monday’s game: Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, DeForest Buckner, Quinton Dial, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Mike Purcell.

Et cetera – Fred Quillan, a 49ers center for 10 seasons, died Monday. He was 60. Quillan, a seventh-round pick in 1978, won two Super Bowls with the 49ers and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1984 and 1985.

▪ Guard Andrew Tiller was limited in practice Thursday for the second straight day because of a sprained ankle. Tiller was the only 49er to leave Monday’s game because of injury. He missed seven snaps before returning to the game.

▪ Every 49er practiced in some capacity Thursday. Armstead was limited because of shoulder and knee injuries but is expected to play Sunday.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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