Once the 49ers hit the practice fields Friday afternoon, it will be the last time the full squad practices together for the next six weeks.
Following the first of two Friday sessions, Mike Singletary announced his decision to reward his players and cancel Saturday’s two minicamp practices. He informed the media shortly after he broke the news to the team.
And while it might be looked at as a reward for the player’s hard work over the last couple of months, quarterback Alex Smith said it wasn’t merely a gesture by Singletary to thank the players for working hard.
It had more to do with how the players went about their business.
“I think it’s a pat on the back for a couple of reasons,” Smith said. “One, we’ve worked really hard this offseason. The effort has been there. But more importantly, the discipline has been there, guys have been coming in ready to work. I really think that’s the reason we’re getting this.”
Left tackle Joe Staley said he wouldn’t have been bothered if Singletary kept the schedule intact, but was pleased to know how much his head coach appreciated their hard work.
“I felt like we deserved it. We’ve definitely been working hard,” Staley said. “As an offensive line, we got a lot of great work and we look forward to closing this camp with a great afternoon practice.”
Morning Notes and Quotes
Singletary proclaimed the return of his famous “Nutcracker” drill to the team’s 2010 training camp schedule. That got us thinking on which players are already salivating for the notorious drill, and which matchups would they desire most. Check TV49 later in the day for some of the answers from various players in the locker room.
Not so much a surprise, but Smith articulated how much this offseason has been a positive for him and how it’s the most comfortable he’s felt in his pro career. “I feel good with where I’m at right now. I feel like we got a lot done this offseason with our offseason program, including all the OTAs and now minicamp. I think we’ve really taken a step and I feel like I’ve done that as well.”
The defense picked off three passes in the morning session, all against second-year quarterback Nate Davis. Outside linebacker Manny Lawson dropped into coverage and intercepted Davis’ quick pass over the middle in the first team period. In the final play of the first 7-on-7 period, safety Taylor Mays came up with his first interception with the 49ers. And later in the final team period, undrafted linebacker Keaton Kristick intercepted a Davis pass that was initially deflected by safety Curtis Taylor.
Kristick was a late addition to the 49ers offseason program as he waited for his alma mater (Oregon State University) to finish graduation before he could join the team. Kristick hasn’t played significant football since the East-West Shrine Game, but said he’s been embracing every opportunity this offseason with the 49ers. His interception on Friday was a result of being at ease with his new surroundings. “It comes with being comfortable. I’m starting to know how to drop, and I haven’t really done that since Pop Warner,” Krisitck admitted. “I’ve been getting the feel for it and I’ve been learning a lot from the veterans so far. I’m anxious for everything that’s coming up, every rep on defense and special teams. I’m trying to make the most of it and not make too many mental errors.”
The best offensive play of the morning session took place on a 40-yard deep ball from Smith to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who got behind cornerback Shawntae Spencer and safety Dashon Goldson. Crabtree has really emerged this offseason as one of Smith’s comfort blankets. He appears to be back to his old Texas Tech days, in terms of play-making ability and explosiveness after the catch.
Backup quarterback David Carr ended practice leading the offense in a two-minute drill scenario. But Carr’s quest to move the team into field goal range was thwarted when Mays picked off his second pass of the practice. As Carr hit tight end Delanie Walker on a quick out in the right flat, the ball was bobbled initially, allowing Mays to swoop in and get his hands on it. You can check our 49ers Twitter account to see Mays’ celebration following the takeaway.
The 49ers wrapped up their 2010 minicamp with a practice that featured more red zone and two-minute drill work.
With season-ticket holders attending the practice, the players put on a show with several big plays by the offense and defense. Here are some photos from the session.
Fans looked on as quarterback Nate Davis looked for an open receiver.
Quarterback Alex Smith throws a pass in the right flat.
Fans soak in the sights of a 49ers minicamp practice.
In the first team period, the offense relied on taking what the defense gave them, making check-downs a premium. That all changed though, as Smith hit Vernon Davis on a 20-yard touchdown hookup which got the attention of the fans in attendance.
Linebacker Scott McKillop must have taken offense to seeing Davis and other receivers catch so many passes over the middle of the field this offseason. The second-year inside linebacker intercepted Smith later in the team period, when Smith tried to find Crabtree in the back of the end zone. On the very next play, McKillop was in position to make another interception, but could only get his fingertips on the highly thrown pass from Carr.
Fellow inside linebacker Navorro Bowman came up with his first turnover with the 49ers, when he stepped in front of Smith’s quick pass intended for Walker. Had it been a game situation, Bowman would have easily returned it for a touchdown.
The offense worked on two-minute situations to close out practice. But the offense failed to pick up points when cornerback Karl Paymah broke up Smith’s pass intended for Ted Ginn Jr.
Tags: Alex Smith, Joe Staley, Keaton Kristick, Michael Crabtree, Taylor Mays
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