Vin’s TC Report…08.03.07
Here’s my training camp report from 8/3/07:
– Today’s afternoon practice was, once again, non-padded. The 49ers tend to do all of their padded practices in the mornings. Tomorrow will be a good indicator of many of the players on the defensive and offensive lines as I believe that is a team scrimmage with full pads.
– During every practice, the 49ers begin by doing a few runs back and forth from one sideline of the field to the other, where the fans are sitting. It’s just an interesting observation, but this year I’ve noticed that Vernon Davis always leads the team on these runs. He always has to be first. It’s happened during every practice, which goes to show you that he’s a prett solid competitor.
– Vernon Davis still needs to get more comfortable with his hands. He had a drop in the end zone today, during TE drills, which was a bit ugly. I’d like to see him be a bit more consistent on this aspect of his game, but he does seem to be a lot better in terms of his route running and overall comfortability in the offense.
– Today the offense seemed to open it up. There was much less short passing and dumpoffs to the RBs, and more routes towards the WRs. It was a pretty sight as you saw some sophisticated aspects of the offense develop, and there was plenty of versatility in the routes and how WRs (and others) were used all over the field. It seems like Jim Hostler’s offense is starting to take form, in other words. And it’s a good sign thus far. I’ve sat through training camps with various offensive coordinators. Mike McCarthy’s was always the least innovative and most dull offense to watch practice. Norv Turner’s was always highly organized and saw more deep routes. The good news is that Hostler’s offense is looking nothing close to the overly simple and non-unique offense that McCarthy ran. Although I haven’t seen all the variations of what Hostler will do quite yet, it’s safe to say that it’s looking a lot more like what Norv Turner did with some new wrinkles that look to make Alex Smith and the passing game efficient by doing some of the things I described above.
– Alex Smith has really tightened up his throws. In today’s practice, he showed a nice velocity to his intermediate routes. His most beautiful pass of the day was on a roll out where he gunned a bullet pass to, I believe, Brandon Williams (it could have been Gilmore or Jacobs) towards the sideline. He displayed some nice speed to get outside on the roll and then the throw was zipped in there. I was a bit disappointed in some of his deeper throws today though. On one play, Gilmore had his DB beat but instead of hitting Gilmore in stride on the inside of his shoulder the pass flew outside towards the sideline for an incompletion.
– Brandon Williams continues to be kind of an enigma. He had some drops in today’s practice, but when the team was going 11-11 with the defense he proved to be a crafty weapon. Because he’s relatively small in height, on many plays the QB was able to find him over the middle of the field and he hung on fine.
– But, WR remains one of the most competitive positions on the 49er roster. If the 49ers keep 6 WRs, that 6th spot is going to be tough to decide. Taylor Jacobs, Bryan Gilmore, and Marcus Maxwell have all made a case to be included on the roster. Jacobs wasn’t as standout today, while Gilmore was steady with a few nice catches, but the dark horse could be Marcus Maxwell. I know that I’ve displayed serious doubts as to whether he can make the roster, but it must be said that at least in practice, Maxwell looks really, really solid. He runs his routes well and plays with a presence. Yet, he did not get many reps when the team went to the 11 on 11 drills.
– Jason Hill had a very impressive catch on the sideline today against a DB. This was during WR vs DB drills. Hill cut to the outside and the pass was thrown a bit low, towards the ground. But Hill dove down and made the catch with the DB in his face.
– Tarrell Brown and Marcus Hudson both looked good in coverage during the same drills. Each had a nice breakup.
– But the highlight of the WR vs DB drills (one on one) was Nate Clements vs Arnaz Battle. This was pretty much dead even. On the first ocassion, Clements stuck to Battle like glue and swatted down Alex Smith’s pass as it came towards Battle. But the second time around, Battle and Clements were locked on the line with Clements giving Battle all that he could handle to get off of the jam. Battle finally did and shook to the inside, while Clements jerked outside. This caused Battle to be wide open for the catch, while Clements shook his head and went to one of the referees at practice and seemed to ask if that was a penalty on Battle. They were both going at it physically on these drills.
– Clements made up for that play on 11 on 11 drills. When Alex Smith attempted a deep pass to the end zone, Clements lept up and grabbed a very nice INT.
– I’m starting to get a little worried about our depth at RB behind Frank Gore. Thomas Clayton really didn’t show much at all today. His hands looked weak and he bobbled or dropped some easy catches during drills where the RBs would work on passes out of the backfield.
– Michael Robinson also didn’t show great hands. On top of that, during 11 on 11 drills, the team was executing a run play. Instead of hitting the hole on the play, Robinson kind of stuttered and slowed down in what would have surely been a loss had there been contact.
– Zach Keasey; however, looked fairly solid. He doesn’t really display any exceptional quickness or burst or anything. But he did catch the ball well and seemed to be steady, where as Clayton was sort of a mixed bag.
– In other words, you can really tell that Frank Gore is not out there practicing.
– Another practice, and more great stuff from Patrick Willis (Derek Smith did not participate in the afternoon session). He looks very quick and broke a pass up today down the field. He’s looking really good out there, especially for a rookie.
– Tully Banta Cain is a defensive spark plug. He kept trying to pump up the crowd to cheer for the defense during 11 on 11s. He also displayed a nice, quick first step to explode towards the QB. He maybe a big guy, but he looks quick and can move.
– Joe Nedney missed about a 50 yard field goal. The first time I recall him missing a field goal so far in training camp. The backup kicker (I’m sorry, I can’t remember his name at the time of this writing) we’ve brought in had a field goal blocked by Donald Strickland, with Patrick Willis also getting solid penetration.