Paint job interrupted: 49ers throw Christian Ponder in the fire


Paint job interrupted: 49ers throw Christian Ponder in the fire

ENGLEWOOD, Col. – Christian Ponder interrupted the task of painting his house last week to make the short drive from his Phoenix house for a workout with the Arizona Cardinals.

The workout went well, in his estimations, but there was no job offer and he could see his hopes to rekindle his NFL career grow more dim the deeper it got into training camp.

“That crossed my mind,” said Ponder, 28, when asked if he thought he might not get another chance to play football.

“My plan was to stay ready for this season anyway and see what happens. If nothing happened all year, it would be time to hang it up. I was going to give myself this season and see what happens.”

But on Monday, the phone rang. And it was not the Cardinals. The 49ers called after learning veteran quarterback Thad Lewis was out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

Ponder was on a flight to the Bay Area just seven hours later. He arrived Monday night, took a physical Tuesday morning, signed a contract, then traveled with his new team to Denver and participated in Wednesday’s practice against the Broncos.

“It’s been non-stop,” Ponder said. “They gave me a playbook when we got on the plane ... They threw me in the fire, which is good. That’s the best way to learn. It’s been a fun 24 hours.”

[MAIOCCO: Baalke talks Kap's health, denies he's involved in QB decision]

Ponder was the No. 12 overall pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the same 2011 draft class in which the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Blaine Gabbert at No. 10 and the 49ers traded up to get Colin Kaepernick at No. 36.

He started 16 games with the Vikings in 2012, including a solid showing in a 24-13 victory over the 49ers. Ponder completed 21 of 35 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns.

“I remember that game,” Ponder said. “That was one of the best games I ever played. It was fun to be at home. That was the year (the 49ers) went to the Super Bowl, right? It was fun. It was a good game.”

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But Ponder mostly struggled through the remainder of his time with the Vikings. He started 10 games in 2013 and ’14. He signed with the Raiders in the 2015 offseason but was cut before the regular season. Last year, he spent two weeks with the Denver Broncos but did not appear in a game.

Obviously, there are not many quarterbacks with NFL experience available at this stage of training camp, but his experience is what drew the 49ers to sign him this week.

“He can step into the National Football League in a game and function,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said. “Coach (Chip Kelly) looked into the possibility of bringing him on last year (with the Philadelphia Eagles) before he signed with Oakland. There was a connection there.”

Also, 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins has known Ponder since his high-school days. Modkins, then an assistant on Chan Gailey’s staff at Georgia Tech, nearly landed him before Florida State signed Ponder to a letter of intent. Modkins said Ponder broke his heart.

“He’s smart. He’s athletic,” Modkins said. “He’ll be able to do the things we ask him to do and I expect him to be able to catch up to speed pretty quickly.”

Ponder, who admittedly is not in top physical condition, saw some practice time on Wednesday against the Broncos. In team drills, he completed three of eight pass attempts with one interception.

Kaepernick was held out of practice on Wednesday and might not be available for Saturday’s exhibition game against Denver. Ponder declared himself available for game action after Gabbert and rookie Jeff Driskel.

“Yeah, I’d like to play,” Ponder said. “It won’t be a full playbook. Hopefully, we come up with a plan for what I can do in the game and go out and play. It would be fun to compete and get out there.”

After all, it beats painting a house – a job that remains unfinished.

“My wife is not happy about it,” he said.

Tune in tonight at 5 & 11 p.m. when I'll discuss the latest 49ers news out of Denver on SportsTalk Live, and also on SportsNet Central at 6 & 10:30 p.m. -- all on CSN Bay Area.

NFL rumors: Jordan Reed, 49ers reach agreement on one-year contract

NFL rumors: Jordan Reed, 49ers reach agreement on one-year contract

The 49ers reportedly reached a contract agreement Monday with a tight end not named George Kittle.

The 49ers agreed to a one-year deal with former Washington Football Team tight end Jordan Reed, 30, who has not played in the regular season since the 2018 season. Injuries have plagued Reed throughout his six-year playing career. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports his contract with the 49ers is an incentive-laden.

Reed's best season came in 2015, when he appeared in a career-high 14 games. He caught 87 for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Reed sustained his seventh documented concussion in August 2019 in Washington’s third preseason game. He did not play in any games last season, and Washington released him in February.

Reed played his rookie season of 2013 with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who was Washington’s offensive coordinator from 2010 to ’13. He was a third-round draft pick from Florida.

[RELATEDHow Charlie Woerner won George Kittle over early in 49ers tenure]

Reed joins a group of 49ers tight ends that includes All-Pro George Kittle, whose agent still is in negotiations with the 49ers for a lucrative, long-term contract. Ross Dwelley, Daniel Helm and rookies Charlie Woerner and Chase Harrell are the other tight ends on the 49ers’ roster.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers mascot gets in on Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle T-shirt fun

49ers mascot gets in on Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle T-shirt fun

The bond between Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle is one to be admired. It's also one you want to be a part of.

The 49ers quarterback and star tight end have a close friendship, one that involves trolling via Zoom backgrounds and, of course, custom shirts with pictures of the other on them.

Garoppolo wore a shirt with a picture of Kittle on it when he arrived at training camp, and the 49ers' mascot Sourdough Sam apparently wanted to get in on the shirt action as he sported one with a picture of Garoppolo on it Sunday.

49ers wide receiver Trent Taylor, who also is close with Garoppolo and Kittle, felt a little left out when QB1 arrived wearing a shirt with Kittle on it. Kittle, naturally, had the appropriate response to Taylor's gripe.

Garoppolo and Kittle have become close friends during their time together in the Bay, but not good enough for Kittle to pick up Garoppolo's phone call after the tight end was named as the No. 7 player in the NFL by his peers. A missed call that Kittle rightfully was ribbed for.

[RELATED: Taylor shades 49ers' front office over George Kittle negotiations]

With Sourdough Sam in on the fun, now we just have to wait and see what Kittle is sporting when he arrives at the 49ers' facility.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
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