SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick refused to blame his first loss as the 49ers' starting quarterback on any tips the St. Louis Rams may have had in recognizing the 49ers' pre-snap tendencies last December.
"There were things in that game we should have made plays, I should have made different decisions," Kaepernick recalled Thursday of that 16-13 overtime defeat in St. Louis on Dec. 2. "I'm not going to chalk something totally up to what a defense was doing. I look at ourselves, first."
On Wednesday, former Rams safety Craig Dahl, who signed with the 49ers in March, revealed that the Rams saw signs of when the 49ers would pass or run, and he cited that as a reason why the 49ers failed to win either of last season's games.
After beating the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints in his first two starts, Kaepernick sustained his first defeat, a loss recognized more for an option-pitch that Ted Ginn Jr. failed to corral and one in which the Rams recovered for a comeback-sparking touchdown.
Three weeks earlier, the 49ers and Rams played to a 24-24 draw, and Kaepernick was pressed into action once Alex Smith sustained a first-half concussion.
Kaepernick and the 49ers lost only once more -- Dec. 23 at Seattle, 42-13 -- before ultimately falling in the Super Bowl 34-31 to the Baltimore Ravens. Those championship dreams vanished when Kaepernick failed to complete one of his final three passes to Michael Crabtree upon reaching the Ravens' 5-yard line.
Improving their red-zone efficiency was just one aspect the 49ers focused on throughout the offseason program, which concluded Thursday with the end of a three-day minicamp.
"Obviously the red zone is somewhere we need to improve, but we're trying to improve everywhere else, as well," Kaepernick said.
Kaepernick cited his vocal leadership as the biggest area he's improved. But his ego has remained in check, according to linebacker Patrick Willis.
"You can see some guys that feel like they're entitled, but he's a guy that comes out everyday and still has the same mentality that he had before he took over the starting job," Willis said. "It's good to see a guy that had the success that he had last year but still be the same guy."
But the 49ers' offense certainly had a different dimension added to it when Kaepernick took over for Smith.
"The new offense with Kap freed me up a lot," running back Frank Gore said. "He's throwing the ball great, recognizing defenses better and putting us in positive situations."
Stung by last month's loss of Michael Crabtree to an Achilles injury, Kaepernick stuck up for the remaining receivers and noted how he's already developing a nice rapport with Anquan Boldin, the former Ravens and Cardinals receiver who was traded to the 49ers.
What has Boldin's presence taught Kaepernick?
"To give him a chance," the third-year quarterback responded. "That's the biggest thing with him. You give him a chance to make a play, more times than not he's going to make it."
Kaepernick noted that second-year receiver A.J. Jenkins is "leaps and bounds" ahead of where he was a year ago, adding: "We just need to get him on the field now."
Kaepernick and Jenkins spent a few weeks working out in Atlanta in March, where Kaepernick's vocal leadership showed. Jenkins recalled Kaepernick telling him to "be more precise in my routes. I'm a faster guy so he's getting used to my speed."