SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jon Baldwin watched from the other sideline Friday night as Colin Kaepernick zipped warm-up passes to his wide receivers, then Baldwin marveled with a couple of Kansas City teammates about the do-everything 49ers quarterback.
Fast forward four days and, by lunchtime Tuesday, Baldwin had already caught 15 balls from Kaepernick while playing for his new team. San Francisco acquired Baldwin from the Chiefs on Monday for fellow underachieving former first-round draft pick and wideout A.J. Jenkins.
"It's kind of funny because before the game I was watching him in warm-ups and I was saying, 'He throws a pretty good ball,'" Baldwin said of Kaepernick. "And I was talking to some of the other receivers about it on our team — I mean when I was in Kansas City — and they were saying, 'Yeah, he did throw a pretty good ball.' And two or three days later, I'm here. It's kind of funny how things work out. It's a blessing in disguise and I'm looking forward to this great opportunity to be here."
Baldwin passed his physical late Monday then went to work at 7 a.m. Tuesday with meetings and practice. He quickly made it a point to meet Anquan Boldin, someone Baldwin knows will be a valuable resource as he quickly tries to grasp yet a fourth offense in three years.
The 49ers are counting on him getting up to speed in a hurry as the two-time defending NFC West champions prepare for a far more daunting schedule as they try to return to the Super Bowl after falling three points short of a sixth championship against Baltimore last season.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Baldwin's transition could go more smoothly given the fact he is going from one version of the West Coast offense to another, with similar language.
At 6-foot-4, Baldwin stood out in the locker room Tuesday not just for being the new guy. He certainly gives Kaepernick a tall target more comparable to Randy Moss than the injured Michael Crabtree or departed Jenkins, who failed to catch one pass during a highly scrutinized rookie season last year.
"He hit the ground running this morning at 7 a.m. He's been diving into it," Roman said of Baldwin. "Speaking of Jonathan the player, size is the first thing you notice when you look at him. He's got really good range, leaping ability. We saw that when we studied him. A great catch radius is always a great thing. There's nothing wrong with having a great catch radius."