Vernon Davis, Isaac Bruce and Delanie Walker all hauled in long touchdown passes during the first of two practices on Wednesday, prompting head coach Mike Singletary to praise his team’s effort and tempo.
“I thought that today was one of our better practices,” Singletary said. “I think that this is a practice that we can build on. If we can get this much better each day, I think that puts us where we need to be. I just complimented the guys; I thought they did a nice job. We’re excited about today.”
But the morning session wasn’t all about flashy passes and solid play by the defense as Singletary and special teams coordinator Al Everest began practice by demonstrating and expressing the importance of a few football fundamentals – ball security and form tackling.
The players were first split into groups based on body size where one player would try to strip the ball while the other held the ball “high and tight.”
“It serves both sides of the ball,” cornerback Shawntae Spencer said. “For us, our objective is to get the ball back for the offense. When the ball carrier is running, you have to strip the ball and we work on a few different techniques. On the other end were the receivers, who we worked with, and their job is to protect the ball. To be honest with you, they did a better job because you didn’t see too many balls on the ground.”
The next drill lined up two players with a five yards between them, forcing the defender not to bite on the juke and secure the open field tackle. Such basic skills are second nature to defenders, but offensive players must also know how to wrap up.
“We’re used to that on the defensive end,” Spencer said, “But it was interesting to see the wide receivers do it. It was kind of funny. A lot of those guys did pretty well, but they don’t practice that a lot, so that was entertaining. I heard [secondary coach] Johnnie Lynn coaching up Brandon Jones, telling him to stay low, but Ziggy [Dominique Zeigler] was the funniest I think. It just didn’t look right.”
Cornerback Dre’ Bly, who’s locker is next to Spencer’s, laughed in agreement with that assesment.
Tackling did not look foreign for all of the offensive players however. Linebacker Jeff Ulbrich even noted that Zeigler and a lot of the receivers do well tackling when they are on kickoff or punt teams. In fact, it was one of the running backs that caught Ulbrich’s eye in the drill.
“I thought Frank looked like a pretty good tackler,” Ulbrich said. “He’s just one of those old school football players who can do it all.”
The 49ers have one more practice this afternoon that will focus solely on special teams.
Tags: Dominique Zeigler, Dre' Bly, Jeff Ulbrich, Shawntae Spencer
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