Thuds, catches and crisp throws. All, taking place on a picturesque day. Yes, padded practice was back in a big way at 4949 Centennial Blvd. with 49ers players donning shoulder pads for the first time at 49ers Training Camp presented by HP.
Justin Smith provided the first “ooh” moment of camp, putting a vicious forearm to second-team center Daniel Kilgore’s chest on a pass-rushing stunt that left the unsuspecting second-year lineman on his back. Nothing to be down on, Smith’s made a living doing such devastating rushes on offensive linemen.
Randy Moss was back to his old tricks, too. A throw from Colin Kaepernick intended to the new 49ers wide receiver during an opening 7-on-7 period was cradled effortlessly by Moss with one hand and retrieved into his body before hitting the ground. Moss got both feet in bounds, too, despite the tight coverage of cornerback Tramaine Brock.
Let’s take a look at the other highlights and notable moments from the first padded camp session in Santa Clara.
-Special teams work began practice once again. Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams and LaMichael James fielded punts in that order. The period also featured the first padded one-on-one drills of camp as members of the punt team and punt return team faced off in individual blocking matchups.
-Practice moved on to one-on-one periods on both fields where the wide receivers faced cornerbacks and linebackers squared off with running backs. The first touchdown catch in the period came from undrafted wide receiver Chris Owusu, who beat undrafted cornerback Deante’ Purvis down the right sideline to haul in a 50-yard touchdown from Josh Johnson.
-Alex Smith also got in on the touchdown act during the opening one-one-one period; he fired a 50-yard touchdown to Williams, who beat Brock down the right sideline. Smith also completed another deep ball to wide receiver Brett Swain in front of undrafted cornerback Anthony Mosley. Smith finished the drill with another 50-yard score, this time to Ginn Jr., who beat Brock with an out-and-up route.
-Alex Boone handled the interior bull rush of defensive tackle Ray McDonald just fine during the first one-on-one pass rushing drills of the offseason. Justin Smith and Joe Staley both got the best of each other in their respective matchups.
-Play of the day honors went to Scott Tolzien and Nathan Palmer, two talented young players who hooked up on a 50-yard touchdown route during the opening 7-on-7 period. Palmer beat starting defensive backs Carlos Rogers and Donte Whitner on a skinny post to catch the perfectly thrown pass. Palmer made an impressive catch on a ball thrown behind him in the first team period. Plamer ran a dig route across the middle and was able to reach back to his left to make a tough crab.
-During the opening period, Brock put a good hit on Kendall Hunter on a run around the left side of the line. Brock also broke up a Smith pass in a later 7-on-7 period.
-Aldon Smith recorded a would-be sack when Johnson tried to bootleg around his right outside linebacker spot. The second-year player tagged Johnson down in the backfield before he could survey the field for an intended receiver.
-Practice concluded with a “move the ball” period that saw Alex Smith complete his final three passes in a row. Veterans were told to hit the showers early, allowing younger players to get late practice reps. Meanwhile, the team’s starting defensive backs (Rogers, Whitner, Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown) ran wind sprints on the adjacent practice field. Also during the young player period, Moss caught passes from a juggs machine along with Vernon Davis and Frank Gore.
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