On the Field
Nnamdi Asomugha had his best day of camp and continues to look more and more comfortable in his new surroundings. In seven-on-seven drills, he intercepted Colin Kaepernick on a short throw to Chad Hall. Asomugha initially tipped the pass up in the air and came down with the interception. His man-to-man skills against the team’s depleted group of receivers looked good in one-on-one drills at the start of practice, but his agility and quickness is tough to gauge with the team’s top wideouts shelved for the time being.
Injuries have been the common theme throughout the training camp's first week. Aldon Smith did not dress and missed practice Wednesday. The 49ers’ sack artist spent the majority of the offseason program rehabbing his shoulder after undergoing surgery to fix a torn labrum following the Super Bowl. The reason for his absence was not disclosed.
Center Jonathan Goodwin missed his second-straight day, but was seen around the team's facility. No update on his status has been given.
After missing Tuesday’s practice, NaVorro Bowman was back and fully dressed. Patrick Willis reportedly had a hand issue that kept him out of 11-on-11s that he suffered during individual blocking/pass rushing drills.
It appeared guard Mike Iupati’s ankle was rolled up on late in the day, but he only missed a few plays before going back in.
Chris Culliver, who had a red zone interception of Scott Tolzein during the seven-on-sevens, finished practice early and was seen with his pads off working on an apparent upper-body issue.
Tuesday, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood both suffered lower-body injuries and were held out of practice again Wednesday. They worked out on the side field with Kyle Williams, who was also out of action. Ricardo Lockette, who was dealing with a hip issue Tuesday, practiced Wednesday but didn’t appear to be 100 percent.
The offensive highlight of the day came in 11-on-11 when Kaepernick hit Garrett Celek in the far right corner of the end zone for an over-the-head touchdown catch from roughly 30-yards out. Kaepernick showed touch as he lofted the pass over the defender and allowed his tight end to high point the ball.
In the Press Tent
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman opened the day speaking to reporters by mentioned Colin Kaepernick’s continued progression as a passer. He was asked about his young star’s ability to make more throws, particularly down the field, with accuracy and the proper velocity.
“I think Colin’s getting better at everything he does just because of the approach he takes. He’s definitely somebody with a live arm. And I think he’s really focused on all his throws, short intermediate and deep,” Roman said.
“It’s something he’s working hard on and we’ve seen some nice throws this camp.”
Chad Hall has continued his solid training camp while others have been out with injuries. Roman pointed out his knowledge of each receiving position in the offense. With so many players missing time, Hall and Marlon Moore have played well in their stead.
“Chad’s a guy that knows multiple positions. He’ll play inside in the slot, he’ll play outside strong and weak. I think one of the things Chad’s done is shown he can handle all those different positions’ responsibilities,” Roman said.
Moore has shown a propensity to fight for the ball in traffic, particularly over the middle of the field. And generously listed at 190 pounds, that trait has gained Moore some respect from his quarterback.
“Receivers have to learn to go after the balls over the middle and trust you to not lead them into a headache. But those are the receivers that get more and more balls. They build confidence in the quarterback,” Kaepernick said.
All the mention of Moore and Hall is no slight to Anquan Boldin, who continues to have a good camp showing a good rapport with Kaepernick and the rest of the offense.
Roman was asked about Vernon Davis, who appears to be benefiting from having a starting quarterback in camp that can get the ball down field for the first time in his career. Kaepernick and Davis have connected on a number of long passing plays that have been highlighted by Davis’ speed.
“There was a lot of talk about all the offensive systems the quarterback had prior. Well Vernon had a different offense every year too. Now this is his third year in this system. I think we’re seeing his command of it every day. It’s really been exciting this offseason to see. He’s taken it up a new level,” Roman said.
Kaepernick echoed that sentiment, also pointing out his improved comfort level with the offense in this training camp, his first as a starter.
“Vernon’s someone who comes into work. He’s going to make sure he’s prepared. He’s worked hard in this offense to have a full understand so we can do anything with him,” Kaepernick said.
Ray McDonald talked about the emergence of nose tackle Ian Williams, who is also having a strong camp while getting reps with the first team defense. Williams had signed an extension in the offseason, despite seeing very limited player time while backing up Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois.
“We always knew Ian was a good player. It’s really not surprising to us. He’s stepped in and he’s doing a good job,” McDonald said.
“But nothing against Isaac or Ricky, but we feel it’s an upgrade. But we still have some games to be played.”
McDonald has become an important part of the 49ers’ defense since getting drafted in the third round of 2007. He’s been a staple in both base and nickle packages along side Justin Smith for the last few seasons. But with the high number of snaps they’ve both taken during the team’s consecutive runs deep into the playoffs, McDonald welcomes the idea of getting breathers while the 49ers incorporate some of their younger lineman.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “We’re expecting them to go in there and take a little load off me and Justin…We do take a lot of snaps so we’re got to come out every once in a while.”
San Francisco drafted defensive end Tank Carradine in the second round in the most recent draft, although he remains on the active/non-football injury list while recovering from surgery on his ACL. Quinton Dial – a lineman taken in the fifth round – is also missing action while recovering from toe surgery.
Even with the two rookies sidelined with injury, the 49ers still feel good about their defensive front. While Williams is the starter for now, newcomer Glenn Dorsey will also see plenty of time. With so many names, McDonald said this was the deepest group at defensive line he’s been apart of with the team.
“As a defensive line you always want guys that can go in there and not feel a drop off,” he said. “We have (Dearcus) Dobbs and Will (Tukuafu) and Glenn, guys like that. When they come in we don’t feel like it’s a drop off. They’re all good players.”