Niners QB Colin Kaepernick cleared to do individual drills

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been cleared to do individual drills and was on the field Tuesday for the start of the team's mandatory three-day minicamp.

Wearing a helmet, black shorts and a black jersey, Kaepernick, along with the three other quarterbacks on the roster, spent the first 20 minutes of practice making a series of throws to running backs and receivers.

It's the first time this offseason that Kaepernick has been cleared for on-field practices. He previously spent organized team activities doing light throwing on the side and working on his footwork and dropbacks while the rest of the team practiced.

Several of Kaepernick's attempts were wobbly during the first round of throws, but he was throwing crisp spirals on passes 30 yards downfield later in the session.

Baby steps, to be sure, but encouraging ones both for the quarterback and for the 49ers.

"He's practicing," coach Chip Kelly said. "He's just not going to do team and 7-on-7. He's progressed. You're not going to go from not practicing to full practice. I don't think anybody ever does that. You're going to bring him along gradually."

Kaepernick has been limited this offseason after having surgeries on his left shoulder, left knee and right thumb.

When he gets final clearance for full practice, the 28-year-old quarterback has a lot of catching up to do. The 49ers have gone through much of the installation of Kelly's offense, and while Kaepernick has done as much as the doctors would allow, it's nothing compared to running the offense with a full group.

That's why the team has had Kaepernick going through the motions during practices, so that he won't be as rusty.

"Ever since we got going here with our practices, he stands in the back and gets all the body reps," quarterbacks coach Ryan Day said. "[He] goes through it mentally and draws upon his experiences, trying to put himself in the game and in the practice so that when he is able to do it full speed he can pick it up."