Earlier in the week, Mike Singletary promised his team would be in pads come Saturday. And he meant it.
Once the 49ers wrapped up stretches and individual position drills at their first training camp practice of the 2009 season at team headquarters in Santa Clara, it was time to put the pads to use.
Singletary did so, by introducing a drill he dubbed “The nutcracker.”
His pad-thumbing drill featured seven groups of players pitted at different stations. Some of which saw cornerbacks vs. receivers, offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen, running backs vs. linebackers and tight ends vs. linebackers.
Only quarterbacks and specialists were spared from the drill.
“I think we got some good work out of that (drill),” Singletary said after the first of two Saturday practices. “The fundamental part of what we’re trying to achieve, I think we took a step today in that area. And we’re going to do that a few times. I just think it’s important we understand contact, but even more importantly, it’s not just coming out here and hitting people. It’s coming out here and learning how to engage and win in a competitive environment. And that’s really what we did in that drill.”
The players got more out of than just fundamentals. They understand that it’s a mentality that their head coach is trying to instill.
“There is just a mindset Coach Sing wanted us to get out of that (drill),” Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis said. “Not only is it about being tough, but it’s about the mindset he wants our team to have – and that is we are going to go through people. No matter who stands in our way, we are going to go through them. That drill helps with that mentality.”
After the leverage drill, the team went on to work on special teams drills. The rest of the morning practice rounded out with various team work: 11-on-11, 9-on-7 and 7-on-7 scrimmages.
Some quick highlights of the first practice:
-A fan wearing a Tony Romo jersey was escorted out of the bleachers by 49ers mascot Sourdough Sam.
-Wide receiver Arnaz Battle, cornerback Shawntae Spencer and tackle Marvel Smith practiced for the first time this offseason.
-Alex Smith completed a deep pass to wide receiver Dominique Zeigler over the middle on a seam route after Smith faked a reverse handoff to wide receiver Brandon Jones.
-Seventh-round draft pick Curtis Taylor intercepted a pass from fellow rookie Nate Davis to end the morning practice.
MVP of the morning practice honors goes to defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga, who made several plays behind the line of scrimmage. The best was when he batted down a pass from Smith.
Stay tuned to our Twitter page for more updates and photos from the practice field. The players are just about to head back on the field for the second practice which will begin a little after 4pm.
Tags: Alex Smith, Arnaz Battle, Curtis Taylor, Dominique Zeigler, Marvel Smith, Patrick Willis, Shawntae Spencer
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