Colin Kaepernick hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in nearly 10 months, including the final three games before his midseason benching last November.
But when he hit Jerome Simpson with back-to-back scoring strikes in Tuesday's red-zone drill, Kaepernick showed the production his new coaches will weigh most in resolving the ongoing quarterback competition with Blaine Gabbert.
Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins, before practice, echoed coach Chip Kelly's earlier depiction of their ideal quarterback: one who excels with accuracy, decision making and the ability to lead the team.
HC Chip Kelly has yet to say whether Kaepernick or Gabbert will start Sunday's exhibition opener at home against the Houston Texans. Kaepernick and Gabbert improved their practice-field accuracy Tuesday, albeit with mostly short throws to receivers running mostly horizontal routes. Gabbert completed 10 of 12 passes in full-team drills, and Kaepernick was 8 of 11.
Coach Chip Kelly has been impressed by Simpson, who appears to be making the most of the chance the organization gave him to resuscitate a career from multiple suspensions.
"It's really wide open," Kelly said on Tuesday morning. "Besides Torrey, let's find out who the other playmakers are at that wide receiver position."
Simpson made his mark on the practice field Monday when he got behind cornerback Dontae Johnson to catch a long touchdown pass from quarterback Blaine Gabbert. We have Bruce Ellington second among 49ers on our WR list and some who follow the team feel he'll get the WR2 job we've reported. Quinton Patton, DeAndre Smelter and Aaron Burbridge are among some others in camp.
Quinton Patton (1 TD in 36 career catches) is no lock to assume the No. 2 role, and it will be worth studying how his overzealous approach will mesh with Chip Kelly’s ideals. Jerome Simpson has a great opportunity to revive his career. Bruce Ellington figures to see a lot of reps, especially from the slot.
Eric Rogers, a CFL import, has the 6-3 frame that will be especially enticing if he shows the desire to challenge for every ball. DeAndre Smelter, a medical redshirt as a rookie, remains raw at the position and his massive mitts surprisingly let several passes slip through his hands in the spring.
This writer predicts Ellington will win the WR2 job and we'll see Rogers in three-receiver sets, along with Smith. Reading the names in this news item, it's not hard to see there is a slew of unproven options abound on this young corps. With the QB also in question, there is a lot we need to learn about this 49er offense.
Friday, December 18, 2015, 6:32pm
Sunday, November 22, 2015, 3:08pm
Friday, November 6, 2015, 6:19pm
49ers WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring, doubtful) missed practice all week and is doubtful for Week 9. Boldin missed last week’s game after missing practice all week. Jerome Simpson got most of Boldin’s snaps last week.
Thursday, November 5, 2015, 6:20pm
49ers WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. Boldin missed last week’s game after missing practice all week. Consider him very questionable for Week 9. Jerome Simpson got most of Boldin’s snaps last week.
Monday, October 19, 2015, 5:49pm
The 49ers have requested a one-week roster exemption for wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who’s served a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Simpson has been banned from practicing but has otherwise been part of the 49ers’ daily activities and meetings since the season began. He didn’t play last season, as the Minnesota Vikings released him while serving a three-game suspension in September.
“He’s been to all the meetings. He’s lifted all the weights. He’s run,” Tomsula said. “He just couldn’t go on the field and was not allowed to be out there while we were there.”
This is Simpson's third NFL-issued suspension in four years, and this was for violating the league's substance-abuse policy last year with the Minnesota Vikings.
"The probability of a suspension was known when we signed Jerome," general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "Since joining the 49ers, Jerome has proven to be a great teammate.
"Although he will not be able to participate in the first six weeks of the season, Jerome has done everything asked of him, both on and off the field. We are in full support of the NFL's decision, and look forward to Jerome's future contributions to our organization."
After sitting out last season, Simpson has impressed upon joining the 49ers in March, both with his quick receiving skills on the field and proper behavior off it. Simpson had two catches for 31 yards in Saturday's exhibition opener at Houston, including a 25-yard catch. Simpson won't count against the 49ers' 53-man roster until he's eligible to come off suspension Oct. 19, a day after the 49ers host the Baltimore Ravens. He is able to continue practicing and playing through the final exhibition, Sept. 3 against San Diego, the story said.
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson was a week from returning to the Vikings' roster after a three-game suspension for drunken driving, when ESPN reported on Sept. 18 that Simpson had been cited in July for misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving with an open bottle. The Vikings released Simpson later that day, and signed Charles Johnson off the Cleveland Browns' practice squad the next day.
It seemed at the time like a move to replenish the Vikings' wide receiver depth with a known commodity -- quarterbacks coach Scott Turner had been Johnson's position coach the previous year in Cleveland -- but Johnson was less than a year removed from knee surgery, and didn't play more than 20 snaps in a game until Nov. 16. From that point on, though, he caught 25 passes for 415 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and supplanted Cordarrelle Patterson as the team's "X" receiver.
"He was recovering from that knee surgery a year ago and I don't know that he was ever 100 percent," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "I think he's 100 percent. He's got great work ethic, and he's a big, strong guy. He's a 218-pound receiver that can run. He's got everything you need to be a productive player in this league."
In organized team activities and minicamp, there was no mystery about where Johnson figured in the Vikings' plans, the story went on to say. He was lined up at split end all spring, and teamed with Mike Wallace and Jarius Wright in the team's three receiver sets. According to ESPN, 33 of Johnson's 58 targets were at least 10 yards downfield, and 13 of those 58 were 20 or more yards downfield. Johnson worked out in Southern California with Bridgewater and a number of the Vikings' receivers this offseason, and also spent time in Houston with Rischad Whitfield, the "Footwork King" who has counted Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins among his clients. Johnson is one of 4for4.com Senior Editor John Paulsen's potential sleepers this year. We rank him 37th on our WR list and he looks to be in a good situation with the offense under OC Norv Turner and a developing QB in Bridgewater.
After working on his throwing motion and putting touch on the deep ball this offseason, Kaepernick is grateful for the injection of speed brought by newcomers Torrey Smith, Jerome Simpson and Reggie Bush.
“They’ve been huge so far and bring a lot of speed to the field, bring a lot of deep vertical threat,” Kaepernick said.
And that’s not to mention tight end Vernon Davis, who has looked “extremely fast” stretching the field this offseason, according to HC Jim Tomsula.
Davis is a talent, but the team didn't do a good job of using him last season. His 50 targets were his fewest since 2008, and his usage was way too low considering he has finished in the top 8 at his position in four of the last six seasons. He was targeted just once in the red zone after seeing 20 red zone targets in 2013. It's up to new OC Geep Chryst (formerly the team's QB coach) to get Davis more involved in the offense. Given his 15th round ADP, he's a very low-risk pick given his upside.
"It's the first thing everyone sees -- how fast the ball comes out of his hand," QB Dennis Gile said. That's a result of all the alterations -- from his head to the bottom of his cleats -- that the quarterback has made. "It's not about how hard you can throw it or how fast you can get rid of it," Gile said. "It's how quickly he can release it while still being relaxed."
One of the main things that changed was Kaepernick's stance. Gile said it was too narrow. That is, his feet were close together -- "real tall on his tippy toes," Gile said -- and when he took a step to throw the ball, that step was too big, too exaggerated. That elongated his release.
It's also helped his accuracy. Gile said Kaepernick made the biggest gains with his deep passes. That has to be good news for wideouts like Torrey Smith and Jerome Simpson, who were brought in this offseason to add firepower to a deep passing attack that had been lightly utilized in previous seasons.
Gile said he expected Kaepernick to return to Phoenix and continue to work on his craft during the team's break in early July.
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value.
Monday, June 1, 2015, 1:04pm
The 49ers addition of WR Jerome Simpson has been a positive under-the-radar development for both sides of the ball. Here's why: Simpson is making plays on offense, and he's helping his defensive teammates prepare against a long, rangy receiver who is capable of getting deep and taking the top off a defense. Simpson made a pair of brilliant catches against his defensive counterparts. After failing to secure a deep ball in the individual period of practice, Simpson made a leaping grab to open up 11-on-11 work. He later beat Dontae Johnson down the right sideline to hook up with Colin Kaepernick on a 60-plus yard touchdown reception. Simpson's presence, along with Torrey Smith, appears to be giving San Francisco a valuable one-two punch of downfield threats.
Anquan Boldin and newly acquired Torrey Smith will likely assume the top two receiving spots on the depth chart, but the No. 3 job appears to be an open competition. The list of pass-catchers competing includes Quinton Patton, Jerome Simpson, Bruce Ellington, Chuck Jacobs and the 49ers five undrafted free agents.
A few months back, Patton seized the opportunity to train with Kaepernick in Arizona.
Chemistry is key for quarterbacks and receivers, especially for a pass-catcher trying to become a staple in the 49ers offensive game plan.
“It benefited me just to know that we were throwing the ball together,” Patton said. “He was telling me what he was seeing and I was telling him what I was seeing and just knowing where to be. He worked on everything he needed to work on, and I worked on everything I needed to work on. It worked hand in hand.”
The 49ers haven't thrown the ball that much in recent years so it's difficult to see a WR3 in this system having much of a fantasy impact. But if either Boldin or Smith suffer an injury, Patton may be able to capitalize.
Simpson was arrested for possession of marijuana. He was already serving a three-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy.
Simpson has had his moments throughout his career, but hasn't been able to stay out of trouble off the field.
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