The Charlotte 49ers’ quarterback derby is down to a pair of contenders.
Chris Reynolds and Brett Kean took most of the snaps at Saturday’s open scrimmage at Jerry Richardson Stadium, with mixed results.
Reynolds, last year’s starter before missing the final six games with an ankle injury, looked more comfortable, hitting 6-of-12 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown to tight end Antoine Shaw.
Kean, who opened the scrimmage, connected on 4-of-17 for 44 yards. Receivers also dropped four.
“We’ve narrowed it down to two,” Charlotte coach Will Healy said. “So, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll get those guys enough reps so we can establish a starter. I feel great with both of those guys, I feel we can win with both of them and it’s been a good battle, and I think they’ve made each other better.”
With the Aug. 29 season opener against Gardner-Webb looming, Charlotte is turning its attention to fine-tuning the offense, which returns five starters. Key for the 49ers is making a smooth transition to Healy’s scheme.
“Right now, we’ve got our whole (offense) in,” Reynolds said. “Now it’s making sure we can do everything at a high speed and accurate. Sometimes we’re misaligned or not going at a fast tempo, so this week we’re focusing on getting aligned fast in front of the football and getting the ball off fast.”
Kean, a senior transfer from South Florida, said he’s encouraged by the offense’s balance. Although Healy held out preseason all-Conference USA tailback Benny LeMay, junior Terrick Smalls had a strong out with a pair of touchdown runs.
“On the offensive side of the ball, we continue to show improvement, which is obviously exciting,” Kean said. “We had a good day today and we know there’s a lot of room to get better.
Regardless of who wins the quarterback job, Charlotte will have to make do without receiver Rico Arnold, who is out for the season after foot surgery earlier this week.
Arnold, who earned Conference USA all-freshman honors last year, was the 49ers’ third-leading receiver with 22 catches for 302 receiving yards.