The San Francisco 49ers had their first open practice of OTAs on Wednesday, which meant we got to hear from head coach Jim Harbaugh (transcript), and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (transcript). NFL media rules require at least one open practice per week of OTAs, so that hopefully means we get another day next week, one more the following week, and then something during minicamp!
It is interesting to get a sense from media availability of what is going on during OTAs, but one has to wonder how to balance May/June comments with what is actually going on. Both Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick were fairly effusive in their positive comments. It does not mean they are BS'ing us, but as always, OTA comments must be taken with a grain of salt.
While Coach Harbaugh can sometimes get grouchy with the media, he can also have a quick turn of phrase when the moment calls for it. On Wednesday, someone mentioned that Kap was carrying himself well, and then asked if he was developing into the leader of the team. Harbaugh responded:
“He does. He does. And I really expect a real breakout year for Colin. Athletically, he looks bionic. If you all remember the Six Million Dollar Man, that’s what it looks like to me. He’s very gifted and he always has been. He has the look and feel of a guy who’s really going to break out, even more so than he already has. I’m really excited about everything about his game right now.”
Prior to that, Harbaugh mentioned how Kap said it felt like the team had a full stable of receivers, and it was the first time since they had all been together in which it really felt like that.
Kap met with the media later, and was effusive in his praise for wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Kap was asked if he was surprised by what Lloyd is doing in OTAs, or if he knew what to expect. Kap responded:
"I somewhat knew what to expect. I had seen plays he had made. But, I hadn’t seen him on a consistent basis. Coming off of a year off from football, he’s been amazing out here. Very smooth, very disciplined with his routes and an easy target to throw to.
I've been trying to find comments from last year because I thought I recall fairly positive comments about Marlon Moore during training camp. I could be wrong, but even still, this remains the time for serious optimism about the team. I think most of us our pretty optimistic about things at this point.
While it's still shorts and helmets, it seems a little too easy to take as much as we can out of things. And I think that actually applies to both positives and negatives. Kap is providing strong praise for Brandon Lloyd? Clearly he's the man. Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington not getting discussed in the passing game on a single day of OTAs? Their roster spots are in jeopardy!
And I don't think any of us is immune from it. According to reports, Quinton Patton had a couple big returns in special teams work. Given that there is no live contact, that means almost nothing. But that won't stop me from start pondering if Patton should be moved up the depth chart. It's just human nature, especially when we can't actually see what is happening.
When we get to training camp, we can start to get a better idea of things, although even then it will still be a chance for optimists and pessimists to really stretch their legs. It is entirely possible all of this will come to pass. Kap could have his best season yet, and Brandon Lloyd could dip into the fountain of youth. Nothing is out of the realm of the possible, but it's probably a good idea not to get too high or too low. Optimism is all kinds of fun, but just remember to consider it in the greater context.