On Friday, the San Francisco 49ers held their eleventh practice since opening training camp on July 30. However, this practice was a joint one with Sunday's exhibition opener opponent, the Houston Texans. The practice, like others, started at 10:25 AM. Prior to practice, head coach Chip Kelly met with the media to answer questions.
RELATED August 11 Training Camp Notes: Kaepernick rests during short practice
For the second practice in a row, Colin Kaepernick did not throw in team drills. He only participated in three handoffs and one running play where he kept the ball. Chip Kelly said it was due to "arm fatigue" and a sore throwing shoulder. On Thursday, the team called his limited practice time a "planned day of rest" for the quarterback.
DE Arik Armstead, WR Quinton Patton, and WR DeAndre Smelter were held out of team drills.
WR Quinton Patton did not finish practice due what looked like a hamstring injury. He may still play on Sunday though. OLB Eli Harold left practice, but was walking off without a limp.
#49ers OLB Eli Harold looked like he was a little sore coming off field. No biggie. Will likely play vs. Texans. Should have a good game.— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) August 12, 2016
Blaine Gabbert was having early success against the Texans secondary in 11-on-11 red-zone drills. WR Bruce Ellington and TE Garrett Celek hauled in touchdown passes from the quarterback.
Blaine Gabbert is having his way with the Texans secondary. Just threw 2 TDs to Bruce Ellington and Garrett Celek in the red-zone period— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) August 12, 2016
That success would be short-lived as Gabbert would not be able to maintain that success during 11-on-11 drills.
Back to earth for Blaine Gabbert. An 11on11 3rd-down drill results in a fumbled snap & several incompletions. Kap missing a big chance today— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) August 12, 2016
Gabbert would finish team drills 15 of 21 passing including a play where he spikes the football. He did not throw any interceptions. His best pass, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, was a "long, sideline throw to [WR] Jerome Simpson."
"Gabbert not only made 21 passes – as opposed to four in Thursday's short, non-padded session – they mostly came against first-string Texans defenders," said Barrows. "His best pass came on a double move by Jerome Simpson, who was playing left wide receiver in place of Quinton Patton. Simpson got a step on Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye and Gabbert floated a perfect pass into Simpson's hands. Gabbert also completed four straight passes – all of them short – during an end-of-half drill. Carlos Hyde caught two, tight end Vance McDonald caught one and running back Shaun Draughn caught the other."
Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group believes that Gabbert now has the inside track to the quarterback job thanks to Kaepernick's lack of participation over the past two days.
My opinion: #49ers QB duel ended today— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 12, 2016
It's Blaine Gabbert's job/team
Doesn't help Colin Kaepernick (shoulder) he didn't pass vs Texans
Following practice, Gabbert admitted that not splitting reps with Kaepernick allowed him to get into a better rhythm. The team has not yet announced a starter for the team's game on Sunday. An announcement is expected soon. "When I do get the opportunity to play, I'm going to make most of it," said Gabbert via Cam Inman.
"For the second straight day, one of the nicest throw-and-catch sequences was delivered by rookies Jeff Driskel and Bryce Treggs," reports Barrows. "Playing with the third-team offense, Driskel hit Treggs on a 24-yard pass down the left sideline against cornerback Kevin Johnson."
Cam Inman list Gabbert, along with Simpson, WR Bryce Treggs, OT Anthony Davis, and RB Carlos Hyde as Friday's offensive stars.
Chris Biderman of Niners Wire made an interesting observation regarding the tempo of practice against the Texans.
Watched a few reps of team drills on far field where Texans offense was working. Tempo felt like nap time. #conditioned— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) August 12, 2016
OG Joshua Garnett continues to get reps on the left side of the offensive line. "He allowed defensive tackle Brandon Dunn to get past him on one-on-one blocking drills," said Matt Barrows. "Later during a two-man stunt drill, he knocked nose tackle D.J. Reader to the ground."
The starting offensive line remains Joe Staley, Zane Beadles, Daniel Kilgore, Andrew Tiller, and Trent Brown.
Carlos Hyde did well catching the ball out of the backfield. "Carlos Hyde is giving the Texans problems as a pass catcher out of the backfield," said Kevin Jones of KNBR. "49ers offense is going to rely heavily on his hands."
Ellington reportedly had a good practice against the Texans. Joe Fann of 49ers Media said that no one could keep up with him one-on-one, calling him a "catch machine."
Jimmie Ward struggled against the Texans receivers according to Ryan Sakamoto of Niner Fans.
If the #49ers are going to play their CBs on an island, these corners need to be able to make plays on the ball. Ward didn't look good.— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) August 12, 2016
#49ers DB Jimmie Ward was beat for 40-yard TD by Notre Dame Rookie WR Will Fuller which team was high-on off simple go-route.— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) August 12, 2016
The team's practice, which is closed to reporters, is scheduled for 10:25 AM.