SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick's training-camp debut Sunday garnered approval from 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, who saw something he hadn't seen from Kaepernick in a while.
"He's got a smile on his face," Baalke said.
Kaepernick had a relatively uneventful day, sharing first-team snaps with Blaine Gabbert, the fellow sixth-year veteran who seized Kaepernick's job at midseason last year. Both quarterbacks completed 7-of-10 passes in 11-on-11 drills. Kaepernick threw an interception in seven-on-seven action.
"It felt great just to be back on the field to start with, and then to get into the offense and really sink my teeth into it and get comfortable with it," Kaepernick said. "I felt good with everything that I was doing."
Baalke is as curious as anyone to see what comes from a quarterback-competition in which Kaepernick is finally engaging at full health. But Baalke is recusing himself as a judge.
"Both Colin and Blaine, we're going to roll out the ball and give them equal opportunity," Baalke said. "That's really up to the coaches, when they get reps, how they share reps. I don't have anything to do with that, nor do I want anything to do with that.
"Coach Kelly and his staff will determine who plays, who doesn't."
Less than six months ago, Kaepernick sought to play elsewhere, requesting a trade that never came to be despite serious courting from the Denver Broncos.
"It's behind us. It makes no difference, at all," Baalke said of the trade discussions. "We're glad he's here. The coaching staff is glad he's here.
"As you saw today, he's ready to go. His weight is up and has gotten most of that back. He feels good. There's no complications from injuries of the past and he's ready to go."
Baalke wants Kaepernick and all players to use this time to get comfortable with the coaches, not the embattled general manager, who didn't deny that he's yet to have a sit-down, heart-to-heart discussion with Kaepernick.
Baalke was on the field for Sunday's 90-minute practice and watched as Kaepernick and Gabbert modestly fulfilled their duties of completing short, quick passes in the fast-paced offfense.
Said Gabbert: "This is not my first quarterback competition and it definitely won't be my last."
That's because Gabbert said everyone always be looking to compete for a job, which he did last year in seizing Kaepernick's.
Kaepernick was smiling not only on the field but off it at the media podium, where he was gregarious and upbeat, a far cry from his interviews over the past couple sour seasons.
"It's going to be an even competition, and I'm here to compete," Kaepernick said.
Limited by his surgeries (left shoulder, left knee, right thumb), Kaepernick lost weight during the offseason, but he apparently gained it back with a healthy diet and trademark training regimen.
"Yeah, I'm definitely putting a lot of weight back on," Kaepernick said. "I don't look like my high-school self anymore. I feel like I look more like an adult now."
So do Kaepernick and Gabbert have to emerge as a bona fide starter to keep Baalke (or his potential successor) from seeking a new quarterback next year?
"That answers itself. If neither were to step up ...," Baalke said before cutting himself off. "We've got some guys in that room that can step up and play."
For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.
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