Colin Kaepernick said the shoulder soreness that’s limited him in the 49ers’ last two practices reminds him of how he used to feel after a long outing on the pitcher’s mound in high school.
“My arm’s always snapped back quick,” he said. “So I’m not too concerned about it.”
Still, the issue -- Kaepernick characterized it as “tightness” in his shoulder -- prevented him from throwing a pass during Friday’s scrimmage against the Texans. And it raises questions as to how much he will play in Sunday’s preseason opener against Houston.
Asked if he’d be on the field Sunday, Kaepernick said, “Yeah, I think so.”
For the second straight day, Blaine Gabbert made all of the throws with the 49ers’ first-team offense. Unlike Thursday’s short, non-padded session, Friday’s was a fierce, two-and-a-half hour practice in which Gabbert completed 15 of 21 throws against the Texans defense, including a deep touch pass down the sideline to receiver Jerome Simpson.
“I feel like we were executing pretty smoothly today,” Gabbert said. “Hitting on a bunch of passes. Seeing protections, seeing the pressures they were bringing, getting the ball out on the flat when it was there. As a group, as an offense, we moved the ball.”
Kaepernick, meanwhile, was limited to a handful of snaps on which he either handed the ball to a running back or took off on a quarterback keeper. On passing plays, he stood behind the other 49ers quarterbacks and mimicked their movements, which was his routine during spring practices.
Up until Thursday, the 49ers’ first-team snaps had been divided evenly between Gabbert and Kaepernick.
“Yeah, I would have loved to have gotten those reps,” Kaepernick said of the lively joint practice. “But it’s also something that, we’re in preseason practice. We don’t play a game for about another month, so we want to make sure we stay ahead of this before we get to the season.”
After undergoing surgeries to his left, non-throwing shoulder, his left knee and his right thumb, Kaepernick said he didn’t expect his right shoulder to bother him. But he said his long recovery meant he simply hadn’t been throwing a lot before training camp began on July 31.
During training camp, the quarterbacks make anywhere from 86 to 102 throws a day.
“You don’t really get the reps of live action and that violent motion when you’re practicing in the offseason,” Kaepernick said. “So I think it’s just building my endurance in that area.”
Kaepernick was seen having his shoulder stretched during Tuesday’s practice. That was followed by a lackluster session Wednesday at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco where Kaepernick completed just three of eight passes in team drills.
Was his subpar day related to the shoulder, coach Chip Kelly was asked?
“That’s a good question for him, to be honest with you,” he said. “We haven’t really gone through that. I don’t think the offense as a whole had a great day up there. I thought our defense had the upper hand in terms of where we were up at Kezar. So to single out one guy out isn’t really fair.”
Kelly spoke to reporters before practice and has said all week that he and his staff would figure out the starting lineup for Sunday’s game, including at quarterback, after the scrimmage with the Texans.
Kaepernick said he expects to start one of the upcoming preseason games but said Kelly hasn’t spoken specifically about how snaps will be divided in those games.
“From everything he’s told me, we’re both getting a fair shot,” he said.