The 49ers went back to work on Sunday with a clear focus in mind. Two days after allowing six sacks in their preseason loss to the New Orleans Saints, pass protection and blitz pickups were given extra emphasis on a windy day at Candlestick Park.
In front of thousands of fans attending the team’s open Fan Fest practice, Jim Harbaugh made sure the 49ers addressed the issues that hampered them in a 24-3 defeat.
Specifically, the 49ers worked on picking up extra rushers in the box throughout their team periods. Additional defenders were consistently sent in Alex Smith’s and Colin Kaepernick’s faces throughout practice and it was up to the blockers and quarterbacks to adjust accordingly.
Much of the pressure material Harbaugh and his coaches went over would have been discussed at length in a normal offseason through various minicamp and organized team activities. But with the 49ers playing catch up to NFL team’s with greater continuity, such issues are being addressed on the fly.
“We worked a lot on the passing game,” the 49ers coach said. “A lot on third-down blitz pick up and route mechanics – it was a lot of good teaching on the tape.”
Harbaugh mentioned a team meeting earlier in the morning as being beneficial in the 49ers progress in pass protection. Players took notes from the mistakes in the previous game and went on the field confident that they could rectify the situation.
“That’s what we practice for,” wide receiver Joshua Morgan explained. “When teams have success doing something against you in a game, the next team will come and try to do the same thing. It’s a copy-cat league. So we’re working on improving in that area.”
Notes and Quotes
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards made a few impressive catches in front of his new home fans. After practice, the new 49ers wideout signed several autographs and sounded happy in his new home. Edwards marveled at Candlestick’s playing surface and said he enjoyed getting more snaps on Sunday. “I’ve been getting a lot more reps with Alex (Smith) and Colin (Kaepernick) and I think that was good for me today,” Edwards said. “I’m trying to make as many plays as I can and get used to how they’re throwing the ball.”
Dashon Goldson had his most extensive practice participation since signing with the 49ers last week. “It felt good to be out there today, but at the same time, I have a lot of lot to learn,” he explained. “I haven’t played in awhile. I have to get the grasp of this defense down to play faster.” Goldson said he expects to play on Saturday against the Raiders.
One of the more intriguing sights of special teams periods have been the whereabouts of tight end Vernon Davis. Since the starting tight end has no role on special teams, he’s been getting hands-on coaching from offensive coordinator Greg Roman and tight ends coach Reggie Davis during those periods. Typically, it has been both coaches giving Davis further instruction on blocking and footwork techniques.
Davis appeared to be the most popular target on the day. He caught several passes from both Smith and Kaepernick. Davis, however, was robbed of a touchdown by safety Donte Whitner, who broke up a deep ball from Smith with the back of his helmet.
Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and cornerbacks Shawntae Spencer and Tarell Brown returned to practice after being non-participants since early in camp. Brown blocked a field goal attempt to close out the second-team offense’s final drive of 11-on-11 work.
Photo(s) of the Day
Edwards stabbed this ball out of the air during one-one-one wide receiver-cornerback drills. Here it is in three shots.
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