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Familiar Faces Return to Practice

Posted by Scott Kegley on August 17, 2009 – 2:14 PM

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Some familiar faces returned to the practice field Monday morning for the 49ers first full practice since playing the Denver Broncos on Friday night.  Tight end Delanie Walker returned from his concussion taking part in all sessions of practice while several others went through position drills.

The defense was certainly thrilled to get their leader, Patrick Willis, back into the mix following an ankle injury that sidelined him since the first day of camp.  Tarell Brown also returned and will certainly bring some added competition to the cornerback position battle opposite Nate Clements while Michael Robinson (groin) rejoined the running backs.

“It’s been real frustrating, but at the same time, it’s been good,” Willis said.  “The coaches have been really supportive. They haven’t been like, ‘Get back out there. We know you can go.’ They’ve been behind me. They’ve just been like, ‘Get yourself well. We know that when it’s time for you to get back out there, you’re going to give us everything you’ve got.’”

Willis said it was difficult to watch Friday’s game from the sideline.  It must have also been difficult on defensive coordinator Greg Manusky not to have his All-Pro middle linebacker available.

“We are just working [Willis] in a little bit here and there just to see how he goes,” Manusky said. “He is doing good. I think he has been in the playbook studying as much as he can. As soon as he is ready to go, he will go.”

That time might come sooner rather than later as Willis expects to participate in 7-on-7 drills this afternoon and see some action when the 49ers go to Napa on Tuesday and Wednesday to practice with the Oakland Raiders.

“I’m hoping so,” Willis said.  “I’m leaving it up to [the training staff] right now. If it was up to me, I would try and go the next day after I hurt it. We’re going through a progression right now of just playing it safe and not rushing it back in. It’s training camp, and as much as I’d love to be out there, we have to be smart at the same time.”

Brown is also looking forward to practicing against the Raiders. Seeing Dre’ Bly come up with an interception against Denver gave Brown that much more incentive to get back in the lineup.

“It’s been fueling my fire when anybody makes plays,” Brown said.  “Everybody in the secondary is a competitor.  We all like to see each other do well, but we all want to make plays.”

Walker was also so eager to get back out on the field that he kept working even after practice was over, putting in some time running the hill head coach Mike Singletary refers to as “Pain.”

“I felt pretty good, but a little winded which is to be expected,” Walker said.  “That’s why I was running up the hill.  I’m just trying to get myself back together, but I felt great.”

Practice Notes

During 1-on-1 drills, the running backs squared off against the linebackers in a pass protection drill.  The best hit of the day was delivered by running back Glen Coffee who pancaked Justin Roland.

The best catch of the day had to go to Micheal Spurlock who made an acrobatic grab on a deep crossing route.  Shaun Hill’s pass was thrown a little behind Spurlock who reached back and tipped the ball to himself.

Safety Reggie Smith also made a nice pass breakup down the left sideline on a ball intended for tight end Vernon Davis.


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Singletary Praises Snyder’s Play

Posted by Taylor Price on August 15, 2009 – 12:56 PM

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Head coach Mike Singletary just concluded a conference call with the Bay Area beat writers. He was asked what stood out to him from Friday night’s 17-16 victory over the Denver Broncos and he immediately said the play of Adam Snyder caught his attention.

“The thing that has jumped out at me so far is Adam Snyder,” Singletary said. “I think he did a nice job. I think he did everything we asked him to do.”

Singletary said that Snyder hasn’t won the starting right tackle job just yet, but he’s excited about what he saw in Snyder. Singletary also said that free agent acquisition Marvel Smith is getting better and growing his strength and confidence in his back.

Other notes from Singletary’s conference call included:

-Running back Thomas Clayton will have an MRI later today on the knee injury he suffered in the second half.

-The team will wait on more information on the injury to fullback Zak Keasey’s forearm before looking for a possible replacement in free agency. “We’re in discussions, it depends on how things work out,” Singletary said

-Singletary thought both Shaun Hill and Alex Smith “did a decent job.” He said there wasn’t any separation between the two. “I think we’re going to evalutate the film and go from there.”

-Glen Coffee was a player that Singletary was pleased with. “Very excited about what I saw out of him. Tough runner, I thought he did a decent job in his pass protection. Glen is going  to be a great addition to our football team.”

-Singletary said there wasn’t any separation in the starting wide receiver competition either.

-The 49ers play-calling was approved by Singletary. “I thought Jimmy (Raye) did a nice job. He kept a good rhythm. The play selection was good. For the first preseason game, the offense executed fairly well. I really thought Jimmy did a nice job in mixing it up a bit, I thought he was good overall.”

-Singletary also said he would have to watch more film to evaluate backup players and the team’s pass rush.


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49ers vs. Broncos Live Blog

Posted by Scott Kegley on August 14, 2009 – 3:34 PM

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The 49ers are getting prepared for their first preseason game of the year against the Denver Broncos.  The game is presented by Sports Gallery.  Stay tuned to the blog for drive and score updates.

There is not an inactives list for the preseason game, but the players who did not dress for tonight’s game are Patrick Willis, Ray McDonald, David Baas, Joe Nedney, Michael Robinson, Delanie Walker and Isaac Bruce.

I was just handed the game release by our PR staff.  The 49ers captains for tonight’s game are LS Brian Jennings, LB Takeo Spikes and T Joe Staley.

We’ve received a lot of questions about how to watch the game.  Locally, it airs on CBS 5 and it’s also on NFL Network nationally.  You can listed to the game online at http://www.knbr.com/pages/main

Kickoff

The 49ers began their first drive from the 22 yard line.  On 2nd down, Shaun hill completed a pass to TE Vernon Davis for a gain of 22 yards.  Two plays later, Hill was brought down by Elvis Dumervil.  Despite a third and long situation, Hill was able to move the chains, finding Davis again for a gain of 18 yards.  On the next play, Hill was flushed from the pocket and scrambled up the middle, picking up 9 yards.  The 49ers then picked up their third first down on the drive behind a short carry for Glen Coffee.  Mario Haggan brought Hill down on the next play for the Broncos second sack of the drive.  Coffee quickly picked up much of the lost yardage with a 15-yard carry.  Coffee was stopped short on third down, bringing out the field goal unit.  With Joe Nedney not dressed for the game, Alex Romero came on to connect on the 38-yard field goal.  It was an 11 play drive that went 58 yards.

49ers 3 – Denver 0

Our PR staff just announced that FB Zak Keasey has a right elbow injury and his return is questionable.

Correll Buckhalter picked up a first down for the Broncos on two carries.  On 3rd and 11, Orton dropped back and found Eddie Royal for a 7 yard gain, getting down to the 4-yard line.  On 2nd down, Nate Clements came up huge with an interception, coming back and stepping in front of Daniel Graham.  Clements took a knee in the end zone for the touchback.

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Alex Smith takes the field for the 49ers second drive of the game.  The first team offensive line is still in the game.  The only other replacement is Brit Miller who takes over for Keasey.

On 2nd down, Ryan McBean pressured Smith, bringing him down for the sack.  That brings up 3rd and 14.  Smith completed the next pass to Josh Morgan, but he was just shy of the sticks.  Lee’s punt was returned to the Broncos 37-yard line.

Update on Keasey: he will not return to the game.

The Broncos start their second drive with a 13 yard gain.  The Broncos picked up their second first down on the drive thanks to the efforts of their 2009 first-round draft pick, Knowshon Moreno.  The 49ers defense came up big again as Dre’ Bly picked off the pass intended for Stokely.  This is why he was 49ers.com’s practice MVP last week!!

After a 7 yard pass from Smith to Battle and a short run by Glen Coffee, the 49ers picked up a first down just past the 40-yard line.  Smith couldn’t connect on third down.  Lee came on to punt, hitting it out of bounds at the 10-yard line.

Third pick by the 49ers secondary, this one by Reggie Smith.  Alex Smith took over hitting FB Brit Miller in the end zone.  The extra point was missed by Romero.

49ers 9 – Broncos 0

The secondary continues to make big plays – this time in the run game.  Dre’ Bly rushed the edge, bringing down Lamont Jordan.  On 3rd and 10, Orton completed the pass for a short gain to Chad Jackson.  The officials called pass interference on the Broncos, but the 49ers declined, bringing up 4th and 7.  The 49ers will take over at their own 11-yard line.  Alex Smith is still in with the starting offense.

The 49ers look content to run out the clock and get to the half.  Glen Coffee continues to run very hard, breaking a long run on third down to keep the drive going.  The third-round draft pick out of Alabama gets out to midfield as time expires.

It was an impressive first half for the 49ers highlighted by three picks by the secondary, a touchdown pass from Smith to Miller and several big gains by Vernon Davis.

Halftime score: 49ers 9 – Broncos 0

The quarterback competition looks pretty close in the first half, especially if you’re looking at QB rating.  Smith’s rating was 120.8 while Hill wasn’t far behind at 118.8.

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Looks like the night is over for Smith as he’s come back out in the second half without his shoulder pads.  Damon Huard and Nate Davis are getting loose on the sideline.

On 3rd and short, the Broncos covert, taking the ball to midfield behind the legs of Peyton Hillis.  Chirs Simms completed a pass to Nate Swift as the Broncos marched down to the 4-yard line.  Movement on the Broncos’ line back them up 5 yards.  Two plays later Simms hits Jeb Putzier who beat the coverage of Mark Washington for the score.

49ers 9 – Broncos 7

Shaun Hill talked about his performance on the first drive of the game which resulted in a field goal. 

“We were able to move the ball and we had a big conversion on third down,” Hill said.  “That last sack kind of hurt us.  That was completely on me.  The offensive line did a great job out there.  So I’d like to have that play back and I feel like we could have gotten 7 out of that.”

The 49ers will begin their next drive at the 20-yard line with QB Damon Huard at the helm.  On 3rd and long, Huard it Micheal Spurlock for the first down.  Spurlock picked up another first down, making a nice move after a short pass to pick up 10 yards.  Chris Baker brout down Huard, bringing up 2nd and long for the 49ers.  Huard’s third down pass fell incomplete as Joe Jon Finley couldn’t reel it in.

On 3rd and 6, Simms pass was complete to former 49ers WR Brandon Lloyd for the first down.  Great play by the 49ers secondary again as Simms tested Terrail Lambert deep.  Lambert deflected the pass down the right sideline.  That’s the end of the third quarter.

Cornerback Nate Clements spoke about the strong play of the secondary.

“I think that guys were just relaxed out there, taking chances, trusting and believing in what they saw.  We weren’t really worried about what they were going to do.  We were more focused on what we could do.”

Another catch for Lloyd as the Broncos drive to the 49ers 12-yard line.  The 49ers Faithful helped the tea out on 3rd and 6, getting loud as the 49ers flushed Simms from the pocket, forcing him to throw it away.  The Broncos converted the short field goal and took the lead.

Broncos 10 – 49ers 9

The 49ers will begin their drive from the 18-yard line.  Huard is in at quarterback.  Huard nearly hit Spurlock deep, but the pass was batted away by Alphonso Smith.  Big third down conversion as Huard hit Finley just past the sticks.  Huard moved the chains again, hittling Thomas Clayton for a nice gain.  After a short carry, Clayton is down on the field.  As soon as I hear anything about the injury, I’ll pass that along. 

Clayton is being carted off the field now.  His teammates are around him.  Whatever the injury is, it doesn’t look good.

With Clayton out, Kory Sheets is in at running back.  The 49ers continue to play well on third down as Huard found Jason Hill for the conversion.  Wow!  Two touchdowns for FB Brit Miller.  The Denver Broncos sent the house on the blitz.  The line picked it up and Huard found Miller with absolutely nobody around him.  Huard raced in down the right sideline for the 40 yard TD.  The 49ers will go for two.

Wow again!  On the conversion it appeared that Huard’s first read was to Zeigler, but when he was covered, Huard lofted the ball to the back of the end zone.  Bear Pascoe used his height to pull the ball away from one of the Broncos defensive backs and the 49ers go up by a touchdown!

49ers 17 – Broncos 10

Update on Clayton: He has a right knee sprain and is out.

I’ll have to run down to the field as there’s just five minutes left in the game.  Follow us on Twitter for additional updates.


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Shaun Hill Named Starter for Friday Night

Posted by Taylor Price on August 13, 2009 – 1:54 PM

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Head coach Mike Singletary announced that Shaun Hill will be his starting quarterback this Friday night when the 49ers host the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park.

Shaun Hill will start the game,” Singletary said on Thursday after the team held a “mock game” practice. “I do not know who will start next week.  Really it could have been Shaun Hill or Alex Smith.  We chose Shaun Hill.  Don’t read anything into it.”

Hill didn’t hear the news until he walked off the practice field, but no matter the timing of the announcement, he was pleased with the outcome.

“I’m just excited to get out there and play again,” Hill said. “I agree there’s no reason to read into this in any way, but obviously, my goal is to start every regular season game and go from there. I’m just excited for the opportunity.”

Other news from Singletary’s press conference included Frank Gore and Isaac Bruce’s playing time on Friday. Both players will not play against Denver. Rookie Glen Coffee will get the nod in the backfield, but Singletary said a replacement for Bruce has yet to be determined.

Singletary also said Hill’s playing time also hasn’t been finalized.

Right now we’re just going to get into the flow of the game,” Singletary said. “I think the flow will dictate more or less, how much they (quarterbacks) will get to play.”

Although Hill’s getting the first crack with the first-team offense, Singletary said he’s more concerned with the end of the quarterback competition than the day-to-day details.

“I don’t care about today,” he said. “What I care about is at the end of it.  One can go a little bit ahead and a little bit behind.  In all fairness to them, that’s the only thing that I want to comment on is when we know what it is.  But in terms of who it is, who’s ahead, who’s not, it really doesn’t matter right now for us.” 

Fifth-round draft pick Nate Davis isn’t guaranteed playing time, but Singletary said he’d like to get the Ball State product into the game at some point.

Now that the first preseason game is one day away, the entire 49ers locker room is itching to compete against a different colored jersey.

“Everybody is very excited,” Hill said. “When you’ve been facing each other and going as hard as we’ve been at each other for a couple of weeks, you’re very excited to see a different uniform across from you. There’s a lot of excitement and optimism in that locker room heading into this season, without a doubt.” 

Singletary canceled the team’s afternoon practice to let the players rest up for Friday.

You can purchase tickets for Friday’s game by clicking here!


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Things Get ‘Wild’ for 49ers Offense

Posted by Scott Kegley on August 12, 2009 – 1:06 PM

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It’s referred to by fans around the NFL as the “Wildcat,” but offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye has a different name for the formation designed to stun opposing defenses – the “Taser.”   It was the “Taser” that took center stage at the first of two Wednesday practices as the 49ers prepare to face the Denver Broncos in the first preseason game of the year.

“Since the pads have gone on, it was our first foray into it,” Raye said.  “There are some things about it that are different for us.  The initial introduction of it was very good and we got a good start on it.”

The 49ers are fortunate to have three former college quarterbacks on the roster in wide receivers Micheal Spurlock and Arnaz Battle and running back Michael Robinson.  With Robinson still sidelined with a groin injury, Spurlock and Battle took the snaps from center.

“It’s very fun for me to get back on that horse again and be able to play around a little bit,” said Spurlock, the former Ole Miss signal caller.  “I think it’s a copycat league.  We’ve seen Miami and other teams do it and you have to have that in your arsenal now to make the defense honest.  That’s something we’re doing and we look pretty good doing it.”

Raye also used the Wildcat formation when he was with the New York Jets, utilizing wide receiver and former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith in the backfield.  Similar to Smith, Raye sees a lot of potential in players like Spurlock who have enough speed and versatility to threaten defenses when they have the ball in their hands.

“He has great initial quickness,” Raye noted about Spurlock.  “He is a pass threat.  The combination of those things and the fact that he is a punt returner and can run with the ball, gives you a little bit more flexibility.”

For Spurlock, running the Taser puts him in a very comfortable position.

“At quarterback you’re in charge of things, so when you’re back there you get to put everybody in position and tell them when to go,” Spurlock said.  “It’s all on you and you always get to touch the ball at the quarterback position, so I like that part of it.”

However, Spurlock doesn’t necessarily look the part when under center.  At just 5-10, he may not have the height to see over the offensive line, but it’s also something Spurlock can use to his advantage.

“From a quarterback standpoint, there are times when the passing lanes are restricted and you would like him a little bit taller,” Raye said.  “In that phase of it, his initial quickness is a real big plus for him. Behind those big guys it is kind of hard to find him, then all of a sudden he spurts out of there and he has enough juice to hurt you and go a long way.”

It’s that breakaway speed that Raye can utilize in a variety of ways, which could ultimately help Spurlock earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

“Whatever they want me to do, I want to do it 120 percent,” Spurlock said.  “Whether it’s quarterback, receiver or if they need me to go kick, I’m trying to do whatever it takes to make this team.”

81209-jmorgan-subMorning Practice Updates

Spurlock and Battle didn’t take all the snaps at quarterback as both Alex Smith and Shaun Hill managed to squeeze in a few touchdown plays of their own.

During 7-on-7 drills, Smith rolled to his right and found Vernon Davis in the back corner of the end zone.  Davis leaped up for the ball, tapping down two feet before going out of bounds.

Hill wasted no time when going to team drills, heaving a deep pass to wide receiver Josh Morgan who beat the coverage of Nate Clements and Michael Lewis.

Bear Pascoe also made a nice catch, turning to catch a pass from Damon Huard that was thrown to his back shoulder.


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It’s Game Week

Posted by Scott Kegley on August 10, 2009 – 1:24 PM

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The 49ers have officially begun preparation for the first preseason game of the 2009 season against the Denver Broncos on Friday night at Candlestick Park.  While the team will focus more on what they need to accomplish rather than matching up against the opposition, there is still a good amount of game planning taking place in the film room.

“Where not going to overdo it, because all of these games are in preparation for the game at the beginning of the season,” head coach Mike Singletary said, following the team’s morning practice.  “It’s just making sure you don’t focus on the minor [things] and lose the big picture.  We certainly want to go out and do the things that we need to do. All of the fundamentals we’ve worked on here can carry over into the game.  And, we’ll get what we want out of that game.”

Singletary said he has not yet made a decision on who will start at quarterback against Denver, but no matter who takes the first snap, the coaching staff will keep a close eye on both Shaun Hill and Alex Smith, with hopes of naming a starter sometime in the coming weeks.

“Hopefully, as we’ve said before, by the third preseason game, we’ll have a pretty decent idea,” Singletary said of who will start the regular season opener.  “There is no guarantee that we will name someone then.  But, hopefully at that time, we will.  I think the preseason games; they play a big role.  We’re going against somebody totally different, and we have to see how they respond, how the team responds to them, how they respond to the pass rush, all of those little things.”

One person who will not be receiving much playing time is running back Frank Gore.  Singletary hopes to keep him fresh heading into the season and give increased reps to some of the younger running backs.

“I would think that [Glen] Coffee is certainly going to have some time,” Singletary said.  “Before game time, we will know; we’ll play it by ear.  All I know right now as far as the running backs are concerned is that Frank will not be going a whole lot.”

The matchup with the Broncos will also bring a familiar face to Candlestick as former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan returns as Denver’s defensive coordinator.  Singletary still maintains a close relationship with Nolan, who he learned a great deal from during their time with the 49ers as well as with the Baltimore Ravens.

“The most important thing that I learned from Coach Nolan is the work ethic,” Singletary said.  “I saw Mike come in and roll up his sleeves and go to work, trying to bring a structure to this organization and trying to bring about a mental toughness and trying to bring about character and all of those things.  Mike will always be a great friend.”

Morning Practice Notes:

The 49ers completed the longest pass so far of training camp so far, as Alex Smith found Arnaz Battle deep down the right sideline.  The play began from the offense’s own 30-yard line and Smith’s pass hit Battle in stride around the opposite 30-yard line.  Battle raced in for the long score.

Fellow receivers Josh Morgan and Dominique Zeigler also made spectacular catches during one-on-one drills.  Overall, the receiving corps has continued to impress during camp.

Follow SF_49ers on Twitter and get all the highlights from practice as they happen.


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‘Hey kid, catch!’

Posted by Scott Kegley on August 8, 2009 – 2:23 PM

rossumwithfans-sub2Return specialist Allen Rossum made sure to let the fans know just how much they mean to him during the first of two training camp practices on Sunday.  During one of the last plays of the special teams period, Rossum fielded a punt and ran towards the right sideline.  After the play, he picked out one lucky fan in the front row and did his best impersonation of “Mean” Joe Green in the 1980 Super Bowl commercial.

“Hey kid, catch!”

Rossum tossed the ball to young Jalen, whose face instantly lit up.
“He was really excited,” said Frederika Angus, who brought Jalen out to practice.  “He plays wide receiver for his little league team so this is really exciting for him.”

It definitely won Rossum a new fan.

“I’ve always been a 49ers fan, but I’m definitely going to cheer a little bit harder for Allen Rossum now,” Angus said.

Similar to the expression Jalen had when he received the ball, Rossum also lit up when hearing about his new supporter.

“That brings a smile to my face and chills down my body because that’s what it’s all about – when you can make a difference in someone’s life like that,” Rossum said.  “Maybe it can inspire him to achieve things when he’s older.  That made me feel good.  You never know what moment in someone’s life is going to change them for the better.”

After practice, Rossum made sure to sign autographs for the fans.  He first found Jalen and then signed for the fans around him.

rossumwithfans-sub1“He was just smiling the whole entire time – little Jalen,” Rossum said. “It was a good thing that I was able to do that for him.”
While Jalen will always remember the name Allen Rossum, some fans were having a difficult time figuring out the name of the team’s newest wide receiver.

While filming a “From the Bleachers” segment for TV49, a fan asked, “Who is No. 9?”

I informed them that No. 9 is Chris Francies, who joined the team on Friday.

“We didn’t know his name, but we knew he got here last night.  We’ve been calling him our diamond in the rough and that’s a song by Anthony Hamilton so this lady next to me said, ‘His name is now Tony,’” remarked Phillip Askew.

Several fans in the section then began shouting “Go Tony!” though Francies had no way to know those cheers were actually for him.  But whether the fans are yelling a player’s name or one they made up, the players appreciate the support.

“Having them here feels good because they get a chance to see us up close,” Rossum said.  “We can hear all of their comments, especially when we’re stretching.  They let you know when someone makes a play against you as well.  It gives us a little more energy and a little more incentive to make a play.”

Practice Notes:

battlestilgotit-subArnaz Battle turned in the play of the day, beating the coverage of rookie cornerback Carlos Thomas and then laying out to haul in Shaun Hill’s 35-yard pass down the right sideline.

After practicing Friday afternoon in shells and shorts, the team was back in full pads Saturday morning.  They have one more practice this afternoon, which is also open to the fans.

Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye spoke to the team after practice.  You can watch his press conference on TV49.

Follow us on Twitter and get all the updates from practice.


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Francies Signed, Oshinowo Released

Posted by Taylor Price on August 7, 2009 – 6:48 PM

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The 49ers made a roster move just before the start of Friday’s afternoon training camp workout. The team announced the signing of wide receiver Chris Francies. To make room for Francies, defensive lineman Babatunde Oshinowo was released.

Francies joined his new teammates as they were already on the practice field working on form tackling and ball security drills which they’ve done sporadically during camp at the start of practice.

The other noticeable change was in the equipment department, as the players participated in their first non-padded training camp practice.

In his first day of participating in team drills after suffering a hip flexor injury early in camp, outside linebacker Parys Haralson came up with an interception during 11-on-11 work. Shaun Hill’s pass was tipped at the line by Isaac Sopoaga and Haralson was able to make an impressive fingertip catch before the ball hit the ground.

“Ice (Sopoaga) tipped it up and I caught it – that’s basically what happened,” Haralson said of the play. “I got good hands, so I was able to catch it with my fingertips.”

Haralson said he felt no lingering pain from the hip injury.

“Everything is feeling good. I’m excited to get back on track,” he added.

Other highlights of practice included both Hill and Alex Smith leading the first- and second-team offenses on two-minute drives to close out the workout. Hill’s first series ended when Vernon Davis was stripped from behind by Nate Clements. The fumble was recovered by Reggie Smith.

Smith’s drive ended with a 25-yard field goal from undrafted kicker Alex Romero. Romero was able to attempt a kick thanks to two nice catches from Dominique Zeigler, including a 25-yard dig route that put the offense in field goal range.

Although they weren’t able to shutout Smith’s drive, the defense was pleased with their performance in the two-minute scenarios as well as their play for the entire day.

“We’re happy with how we played today but there’s always room for improvement,” Haralson said. “We’ll look at the film, watch our mistakes and come back out here tomorrow morning ready to go again.”

The team will be back on the practice field early Saturday morning for the first of two more practices.


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Jones Sidelined with Fractured Shoulder

Posted by Taylor Price on August 7, 2009 – 1:58 PM

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Wide receiver Brandon Jones will miss an extended period of time after suffering a slight fracture of his right shoulder, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary disclosed on Friday.

The free agent addition was turning heads throughout training camp prior to being injured during red zone 7-on-7 work in Thursday’s afternoon practice.

“It’s going to be a little longer than we anticipated,” Singletary said of Jones’ injury. “But, we’ll work through it.  The receivers that we have, we’re very confident in our guys here.”

Jones’ injury opens the door for the rest of the 49ers talented wideout group. In particular, Dominique Zeigler, Jason Hill and Arnaz Battle could be the main beneficiaries. The way Singletary sees it, the injury doesn’t jeopardize the production from the receivers this season.

It doesn’t do anything to be honest,” Singletary added. “As I’ve said before, this is not a political speech, it’s the truth.  We’ve got wide receivers that (receivers coach) Jerry Sullivan is working his tail off with them.  They’re growing, progressing.  We’re fine for right now.”

So far at camp, Jones had been lining up at three different spots. Without his versatility, others within the group will have to fill the void. 

“I think that is something that Jerry Sullivan and myself along with Coach Raye will sit down and talk about,” Singletary said of who will step in for Jones as the team’s No. 3 wideout behind Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan.” Thankfully, as I’ve said before, we have some receivers and I know we have some who are capable of stepping and doing a good job.  I hate that we lost Brandon Jones.  He’s making great strides.  He’s doing a great job (and) he will be back.”

The good news for Jones is that his fracture will not require surgery. Only time is necessary to heal the injury.

Asked if Zeigler could be the man capable of stepping in for Jones, Singletary was complimentary of the lanky wideout from his alma mater, Baylor University.

“Certainly Dominique has continued to make strides since he’s been here.  We’ll just have to sit down and talk about it and see what we’re thinking.”

Now that the 49ers have been at training camp for almost a week, Singletary has been pleased with his team’s progress. After Friday morning’s workout, Singletary gathered his team to discuss the strides that were made throughout the week.

“Right now we’re on track.  We’re not executing the way we want to execute right now.  But I don’t think anyone is outworking us.  As long as you continue to work, game progress and confidence, the execution will come.  But I’m very proud of the guys, in terms of the work ethic.  In terms of the execution, we’re not there yet; we have to just keep plugging away.”

Morning Practice Particulars

jmooreblog-subOutside linebacker Jay Moore returned to practice after suffering a nasty cut on the middle finger of his left hand. Moore’s hand was heavily taped like he had a boxing glove on his hand.

During 1-on-1 wide receiver defensive back drills, Zeigler made another impressive catch in front of veteran cornerback Dre’ Bly. Zeigler appeared to have no chance of catching a pass headed towards the sideline, but Zeigler reached out and grabbed the pass. The catch was so impressive; all of the defensive backs on the sideline watching the drill couldn’t help but look at each other in amazement after what they had just witnessed.  

Before the team met for their final 11-on-11 portion of practice, 10-year linebacker Jeff Ulrbich gathered everyone to remind them to finish the practice strong.

“I just felt like occasionally about this time of camp, people start to get tired,” Ulbrich said. “They start losing their legs a little bit and the energy starts to fizzle. I just felt like we needed to finish strong and that was basically all I was saying to the group.”


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It’s Official: NFL Referees at Morning Practice

Posted by Scott Kegley on August 6, 2009 – 3:31 PM

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No penalty went unnoticed at the 49ers training camp practice on Thursday as an NFL officiating crew was on hand to oversee the proceedings.

The officials are in town as part of their annual tour.  But rules change each year, so it’s important for the players as well as the coaching staff to understand what is or is not a penalty.

There are four key changes to the 2009 rulebook.  The first and most publicized is the elimination of low hits on quarterbacks.  This has been referred to as “The Tom Brady Rule,” preventing defenders from rolling up on the quarterback similar to the hit that caused the Patriots signal caller to miss almost all of the 2008 season.

“Everybody saw the hit on Tom Brady last year, which was a legal hit,” league referee Carl Cheffers said.  “This year, if a player or defender is on the ground, he cannot lunge into the knees of a quarterback.  Again, we’re just tightening that rule to try and eliminate injuries.”

The second major rule change also resulted from a season-ending play last year when Steelers receiver Hines Ward stunned Bengals rookie linebacker Keith Rivers with a devastating up-field crack-back block. Rivers never saw Ward coming and missed the rest of the year with a fractured jaw.

“Those kinds of plays, they’re trying to eliminate,” Cheffers said.  “They want them to hit them, they want them to hit them hard, but they don’t want them to hit helmet-to-helmet, because that player is not looking at the blocker and that’s a potentially injurious block.”

While the helmet-to-helmet rule may be new for offensive players, it’s well known by those on the defensive side of the ball.  Even that rule has been tweaked however, expanding the rule to include arm- and elbow-to-helmet contact.

As Cheffers explained, the goal is to limit hits on “defenseless receivers to be below the shoulders.”

“It’s good on both sides,” safety Reggie Smith said.  “You don’t want a lot of injuries.  Then again you have to be aware of where you’re hitting. You’ve got to use that shoulder, I guess, from now on and keep your head on a swivel for receivers also.”

The special teams rules have also been modified, prohibiting teams from using “wedge blocks,” where three or more players line up shoulder-to-shoulder, during a return.

“We require guys to be outside the numbers, outside the hash marks now,” Cheffers said.  “The whole idea is that the kicking team is not allowed to bunch up.  When they bunch up and there’s an onside kick, there’s been injuries with the blocks and the collisions that happen after that.”

While that may be a big change for many NFL teams, it could actually benefit teams like the 49ers.

“We never really did three man wedges,” explained Smith, a key contributor on the 49ers special teams units.  “But for us as a kickoff team, going against other people’s kickoff returns, it makes it easier for people like me and Hud [Marcus Hudson].   We’re on the inside where all those big guys are, so it makes it easier to get down when you don’t have big men, teamed up as wedges.”

While it may be hard to get accustomed to some of the new rules, having the officials out during camp is extremely beneficial.

“It helps us as DBs because we do a lot of press coverage with the wide receivers,” Smith said.  “When we were doing one-on-ones that helped, if we were pressing them too long.  It gives us the little ins and outs that we don’t know that we can do during the game.”

Morning Practice Updates:

It was an interesting morning in terms of weather.  It was pouring rain right before stretch only to have the sun come out minutes later.

Takeo Spikes didn’t take long to heat up either, picking off Alex Smith’s first throw during team drills.

Dominique Zeigler also made one of the most impressive plays of camp.  During drills, Zeigler broke his route to the sideline and despite tight coverage, Zeigler adjusted to the throw over his right shoulder and pulled it down with one hand.

The team will be back on the field this afternoon.  Follow SF_49ers on Twitter and we’ll keep you updated on any more highlight reel catches like Zeigler’s.


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