The San Francisco 49ers signed quarterback Christian Ponder on Tuesday, adding depth to a position that is dealing with two significant issues. Thad Lewis was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL, and Colin Kaepernick is dealing with an issue in his throwing arm that will sideline him this weekend.
Ponder was at home in Phoenix, painting his house when he got calls recently. He had a workout with the Arizona Cardinals, and then signed with the 49ers. He joined the team Tuesday and flew with them to Denver for the joint practices. He met with the media after the Wednesday practice, and discussed the whirlwind of activity. He talked about getting the playbook and beginning the learning process on the flight. He explained how he had some basic experience with Chip Kelly’s offense, but there is a learning curve.
On Wednesday, Ponder did not seem sure if he would play on Saturday. Given the team’s decision to sit Kaepernick the rest of the week and on Saturday, it seems highly likely Ponder will play. My guess is Blaine Gabbert gets snaps into the second quarter, Jeff Driskel comes on next, and Christian Ponder gets some mop-up work in the fourth quarter. Another option would be to play Gabbert and Driskel, and just have Ponder dress as an emergency option.
Here’s the full transcript of the 49ers video:
On the quick learning process:
They gave me a playbook when we got on the plane … Studied on the whole plane [flight], studied last night, studied this morning. They threw me in the fire, which is good, the best way to learn. So, it’s been fun. It’s been a fun 24 hours.
On if he’s physically prepared:
I’m a little out of shape. I’ve got to get back in shape, knock the rust off a little bit. But you know, a few days it’ll be good.
On what he was doing to stay prepared:
Back in the offseason, in spring I was working at a place called Fischer Sports, a lot of Cardinals players are down there. Once OTAs came around, I stopped that and started working out in my garage every now and again, not as much as I should have. Had a quarterback net in the front yard, and that’s about it. So, real old school.
On knowing Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick from 2011:
Yea, I made a connection with those guys. Actually trained with Blaine coming out to the Combine, we were out in Phoenix together. Became pretty good friends. Known Colin, same draft class, for a little bit. Know guys like Torrey Smith and a few other guys. So it was kind of an easy transition coming to this team.
On early impressions of offense:
You know, so, my offensive coordinator in Oakland last year, who I had in Minnesota, spent a year with Chip as a quarterbacks coach two years ago. And so he tried to use a little bit of the stuff in Oakland, so I had a little bit of a taste of it then. But other than that, I like it. High tempo, fast tempo, get a lot of plays in the game. And seems like a lot of opportunities to make big plays. Seems like the running game can be really good, too. It’s an exciting offense. For players and fans, it’ll be fun to watch.
On if he thought his career might be over before this:
Yeah, I mean it crossed my mind. My plan was to stay ready for this season anyway and see what happened. I think if nothing happened all year, it would be time to hang it up. But I was going to give myself this last season to see what happened.
On if he finished his paint job:
No, I wasn’t. My wife’s not happy about it.
On being in Denver in 2015 and having some familiarity:
Yea, I mean I was here for two weeks, so I got to know a few of the guys. Know Trevor, know Mark from doing some things around him. A few of the other guys. So it was good to reconnect with those guys.
On if it’s realistic to play Saturday:
Yea, I’d like to play. I think, I mean it won’t be the full playbook, but hopefully we come up with a plan about what I can do in the game, and go out and play. It’d be fun to compete and get out there.
On remembering Curtis Modkins:
Yea, I do. We, before Florida State gave me an offer, I almost committed to Georgia Tech when he was there with Coach Gailey. And I got to know Coach Modkins pretty well. He’s the one that recruited me. That was a tough phone call I had to make when I called him and told him I was going to Florida State. And then we reconnected in the Senior Bowl when he was with the Bills. The Bills were our coaches in the Senior Bowl South team. So I reconnected with him there. So it was good to see him. I didn’t realize he was on the staff until I saw him yesterday.
On if Modkins reminded him of FSU/Tech decision:
Yea, he did. But Coach Modkins is a great guy. I’m glad we get to reconnect.
On if he remembers strong 2012 game against 49ers:
Yea, I do. I think that whole year, I started off, I think the first four or five games went well. I went through a four-game stretch where I was terrible, and then closed out the last four games doing pretty well. But I remember that game. One of the best games I ever played. It was fun to be at home. That was the year I think you guys went to the Super Bowl, right? So yea, that was fun. It was a good game.”