One practice will not decide the 49ers’ quarterback competition. But Blaine Gabbert had a decidedly better outing during Sunday’s session, which was a long, fully padded practice that followed a light session on Saturday.
Gabbert completed nine of 11 passes during the team periods, leading the 49ers on an eight-play drive in his final set of snaps. That drive culminated in a touchdown throw to Jerome Simpson along the sideline. Gabbert was 11-for-12 in seven-on-seven drills. Most of those throws were short, though he did have a nice, mid-range touchdown pass that floated over the outstretched arm of linebacker Gerald Hodges. The ball ended up in the grasp of tight end Blake Bell in the corner of the end zone.
Kaepernick was 4-for-10 in team sessions and 9-for-13 in seven-on-sevens. He had trouble on third downs in the team scenarios. His last pass, a third-and-seven throw along the sideline to Simpson, nearly was picked off by cornerback Keith Reaser. On an earlier third-and-long scenario he had to throw the ball away.
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The 49ers received a scare when both Arik Armstead (shoulder) and DeForest Buckner (arm) pulled themselves out of practice. Armstead may have suffered a shoulder stinger; Buckner seemed to injure his elbow/arm. Neither, however, received attention from trainers after practice, and neither injury appears serious. The 49ers players have a day off Monday.
While defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil praised Buckner on Saturday for earning a first-string spot on the defensive line, Sunday’s first-string alignment had Armstead at left defensive end, Mike Purcell at nose tackle and Quinton Dial at right defensive end. This seems to be the team’s top run-defending group. (Dial was particularly hard to move during run-blocking drills.) The 49ers open the season against Los Angeles, Carolina and Seattle, all of which like to run the ball.
Michael Wilhoite lined up next to NaVorro Bowman at inside linebacker Sunday. Interestingly, Nick Bellore – who earned praise Saturday from O’Neil – was with the second-team defense at inside linebacker. … Reaser played outside cornerback in nickel situations; Jimmie Ward slipped inside to the nickel role.
One of the ongoing intrigues of 49ers camp: Which young wide receivers will stand out? None has seized the opportunity at this point, though DiAndre Campbell had a big day, catching eight passes (by my count) in seven-on-seven and team situations. One of them was a first-down grab on a throw from Gabbert on third-and-eight. …. Undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs (Cal) caught three straight passes from Thad Lewis during seven-on-seven drills. … The best receiver continues to be Torrey Smith. He’s mostly been working against the 49ers’ top cornerback, Tramaine Brock, and their battles are among the most interesting to watch in training camp. … DeAndre Smelter sat out the second half of practice after getting attention from a trainer. He dealt with a hamstring pull in the spring.
Cornerback Rashard Robinson, who was hobbled a bit on Saturday, went through the full practice Sunday. … Colin Kelly, who had been lining up at tackle, played center at times with the third-string offensive line. … Former 49ers offensive lineman Adam Snyder was on hand for practice. Snyder now coaches high school football in Arizona.