SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick rifled a 20-yard touchdown pass that Michael Crabtree caught in blazing stride early in Tuesday's practice. Four passes later, Kaepernick lobbed a 35-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered Crabtree.
Yes, the Kaepernick-to-Crabtree connection lives, never mind that the 49ers' past two seasons have ended with their failed hookups in the end zone.
"He's a step or two quicker," Kaepernick said. "He has burst out of his routes. He has a burst when he catches balls."
Crabtree might again emerge as Kaepernick's favorite target. This camp, however, Kaepernick finally has other enticing options.
"It makes it a lot easier when you have four 1,000-yard receivers out there," Kaepernick said, referring to Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and newcomers Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd. "It's something we're excited as quarterbacks, as an offense and as a team."
Tuesday's team drills also marked speedy rookie Bruce Ellington's practice debut after an ankle sprain, and Kaepernick said he "doesn't play like a rookie." If the 49ers keep six wideouts, Quinton Patton would be the favorite to round out the corps.
That boost of talent is critical to improve upon last season's 30th-ranked passing attack. Kaepernick not only likes the weapons he sees, he's become more vocal in various ways as he enters his second full season as a starter.
"Sometimes he'll speak up in meetings and give his expectations for landmarks and locations of the ball," Lloyd said. "He'll have the floor in the meeting, and he'll be able to discuss what he sees and what he expects out of the plays."
Kaepernick attributes that in part to his self-confidence, as well as the need to get the new wideouts up to speed.
"We want to make sure Stevie, Brandon and Ellington are on the same page with what we have been doing," Kaepernick said. "At the same time I want to make sure everyone hears what I'm saying, so they see things from my perspective, and I hear things from their perspective on how they want to run routes."
From Kaepernick's perspective, Crabtree is fully recovered from his May 2013 Achilles tear. Just about the only thing Crabtree hasn't done this camp is acquiesce to the media's interview requests.
"I'm excited to see what he can do now that he's 100 percent," Kaepernick said of Crabtree.
Lloyd is excited about having emerged from a year hiatus to resume a career that began with the 49ers from 2003-05.
"It's been good picking it up, but there are a lot of nuances and formations that are the curveballs within the offense," Lloyd said. "There's a lot of details. It hasn't been easy but I've been enjoying the process."
Both Lloyd and Kaepernick insist this revamped receiving corps offers various looks, even if their dimensions are somewhat similar -- Lloyd is 6-foot, 200 pounds; Crabtree 6-1, 214; Boldin 6-1, 220; Johnson 6-2, 207.
"There's a lot of diversity in how each one of us gets open and how we approach route running and catching the ball," Lloyd said.