Two days removed from the San Francisco 49ers’ 17-6 preseason opening win over the Minnesota Vikings, the team was back at Candlestick Park to practice in front of 32,000 Faithful Fans at 49ers Fan Fest.
“It was definitely more of a realistic atmosphere,” said new guard Leonard Davis. “The fans were fired up to see us practice and I think it played to our benefit. Everybody played at a higher tempo and I think we got something accomplished.”
The crowd was into practice from the start and remained excited for the conclusion of the final team period. In need of a touchdown, Alex Smith led the first-team offense 92 yards down the field, capping the day with a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Konrad Reuland who got free from Patrick Willis’ coverage.
“Great drive,” center Jonathan Goodwin said. “We almost had one little mess-up, but at the end of the day, we found a way to get in the end zone. That’s all that matters.”
Goodwin felt like it was one of the best days of camp, mostly because his wife and two young sons were in attendance. After practice ended, the 49ers center smiled as he watched his boys play football on the Candlestick field.
“You don’t get to see the family too much in camp so anytime you get to see them, it’s always a good time,” Goodwin said. “It turned out to be a great day.”
It was also a strong day for Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers, who picked off Scott Tolzien’s underthrown deep ball to Randy Moss during a midfield team period.
Rogers enjoyed the liveliness of practice and said he couldn’t help but notice the increased turnout to the team’s annual Fan Fest event.
“It felt good to give them insight on what we do on a daily basis,” the veteran cornerback added. “We go on Sundays to try and win, but we have to put a plan together at practice and execute things in practice. It’s not easy just going out on Sundays. They get a taste of what we do.”
Rogers, like many of his 49ers teammates, spent a great deal of time signing autographs after practice.
“It’s always fun to give them autographs because some of them look up to us like heroes,” he said.
In addition to appreciating the strong turnout to Candlestick, Rogers enjoyed the competitive practice against the first-team offense. Although they ended the day with the last laugh, Rogers feels like both sides are hitting their stride prior to the season opener Sept. 9 against the Green Bay Packers.
“That’s the thing about it, we have to make each other better,” Rogers explained. “The offense is trying to beat us; the defense is trying to beat the offense each and every day, each and every play. It’s just going to make both sides better.”
So while the 49ers offense had the last laugh with a 92-yard scoring drive, they still had to run post-practice sprints. In these periods, the winning team finishes with extra sprints.
“We work situations all the time,” Davis explained. “That was a situation and sometimes we’re ahead in the situations and sometimes we’re behind. We just have to execute and do our thing. We need to make sure when it’s time to put points on the board then we put ourselves in a position to do it.
“Running wasn’t too bad,” he said. “It’s all good.
Let’s take a look at the top highlights from 49ers Fan Fest.
-In one-one-one wide receiver-defensive back drills, Josh Johnson’s deep sideline pass intended for Brett Swain was picked off by undrafted rookie cornerback Anthony Mosley. The best passing play of this period came on Smith’s downfield pass to Michael Crabtree 30 yards down the right sideline. Rogers had tight coverage on the play, but Crabtree did a nice job of fending off the Pro Bowl cornerback to make the tough catch in-stride.
-During opening special teams period, Frank Gore got in the action as a member of the punt return scout team. Gore likes to stay active in practice, this was about as good of an example as any. Also in the period, Moss got the fans riled up playing catch with some of them behind the 49ers bench. Later, Moss started signing footballs and throwing them into the crowd.
-In a red zone 7-on-7 period, Moss gave the fans something they wanted to see, a touchdown catch. The veteran wideout ran quick slant to the inside to haul in Colin Kaepernick’s strong throw.
-In a move-the-ball period, the first-team offense came away with no points. The second-team offense moved the ball to set up a 44-yard made field goal from All-Pro David Akers. The third-team offense’s drive ended when a Josh Johnson pass ricocheted off Reuland’s finger-tips and into safety Cory Nelms’ hands for an interception.
-In a team red zone period towards the end of practice, Chris Culliver broke up a Smith pass intended for Vernon Davis. Plays later, Johnson rolled to his left and found Mario Manningham for a 10-yard touchdown pass. It was clearly the play of the day. The new 49ers wideout did a great job of recognizing the head-high pass and displayed excellent body control to stab both feet in the end zone while making the catch over Tramaine Brock, who did not turn around to see the ball in time.
-Practice concluded with the Smith-to-Reuland touchdown pass to end the 92-yard drive.
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