On the Field
For the first time since the first two days of training camp, the 49ers had an evening practice without pads as they prepared for Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.
Tuesday, the 11-on-11 session were entirely first team against scout team on both sides of the ball for the second-straight day. The first team defense never lined up against the first team offense. Monday, offensive coordinator Greg Roman explained why.
“We might want to see some different styles of defense that we can at least show our players and familiarize ourselves with, and same on defense,” Roman said. “It allows us to show some different styles, maybe look a little bit ahead to the future, but at least get that teaching process started.”
With that being the case, the team ran two different session of one-minute drill from the opponent’s 40-yard line with both backup quarterbacks. Colt McCoy headed the first session and was unable to connect with Vance McDonald over the middle on a fourth-down play.
Scott Tolzien completed two quick passes to Kassim Osgood and MarQueis Gray to get the offense in range, but telegraphed a pass to the left-front pylon intended for Austin Collie that was intercepted by Lowell Rose.
Music was used sparingly in practice for the first time this training camp to simulate loud in-game situations for a handful of plays.
A.J. Jenkins had two drops and two passes defended by Rose leaving the 49ers five for nine on passes thrown his way after catching six of eight Monday, unofficially. Osgood and Lockette each had solid showings Tuesday. Rose had his best practice as a pro.
The highlight of Tuesday’s session came just after the midway point of practice when Tolzien hit Lockette deep down the left sideline on a jump ball where Lockette beat Tarell Brown and somehow got both feet in bounds. He earned cheers and woofs from his fellow receivers. He caught six passes on nine targets for the day.
With Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham out for the foreseeable future, the 49ers need a receiver to step up to take the onus off Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis in the passing game. There have been a number of different players to put together good days of practice, but no one has been able to string together anything of significance to this point over multiple practices with the pads on.
However, it’s still early in the process and much could change in the coming days, especially with an opportunity to play another team Thursday.
Mike Iupati sat out practice after getting his ankle rolled up on earlier in the week. He sat out a handful of plays before returning. His rest is likely precautionary and Adam Snyder took his reps with the first team at left guard.
Center Jonathan Goodwin wore a blue jersey for the second-straight day. He snapped to quarterbacks in seven-on-sevens, but did not participate in the full-team drills. Roman said they weren’t sure he would appear in the preseason opener, but it’s seems unlikely at this point.
Justin Smith suited up for practice but was only involved in individual drills while the fingers on his right hand were heavily tapped. The tape was removed later but he continued to sport a heavy wrap on his right middle finger. He's unlikely to play Thursday.
In the Press Tent
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was first to the podium and was asked about Tramaine Brock and his progress since taking over Chris Culliver’s position as the team’s nickel corner.
“He’s been doing OK. He’s had some plays where he’s missed his assignments and exact pickups. But he’s improving on that as we go through this whole entire week. Obviously he’ll get a lot of play on Thursday night,” Fangio said.
He likened training camp to taking a college course.
“We prepare them in meetings, we prepare them in walkthroughs, we prepare in individual drills. When they’re out in the field in practice, that’s their quiz if you relate in taking a course in school. Game day’s their test. He’s been doing OK…we’re going to see how he does in his test.”
Fangio said Demarcus Dobbs will start for Justin Smith while Craig Dahl will play the first few snaps at free safety. Dahl opened camp working with the first team alongside Donte Whitner and did so again Tuesday. The defense has rotated free safeties with the No. 1s with rookie Eric Reid getting reps in the three practices leading up to Tuesday.
Fangio isn’t one to heap praise, but when asked if any of the young secondary players have stood out in the first 11 days of camp. He noted seventh-round pick Marcus Cooper’s play and said he’ll get a lot of snaps in Thursday night’s game.
Cooper never started a game at corner at Rutgers, but at 6’2”, he possesses the size the team likes at the position. He also said undrafted free agents Lowell Rose and Darryl Morris will get a long look Thursday as well.
Fangio was also asked about Nnamdi Asomugha’s progress since giving the veteran free agent a lukewarm review last week.
“He’s done fine. I just said from Day 1, the day we signed him until now he’s got earn his right to make the team,” Fangio said. He also added he’s looked “good” in the last three days of camp.
Boldin was asked about the differences he’s noticed in Colin Kaepernick now that they are teammates after being on the opposite side of the field in the Super Bowl. The two have connected on numerous passing plays so far in training camp.
“I think the biggest thing is how good of a quarterback he is. I think from the outside looking in you hear about how athletic he is. And a lot of times the quarterback aspect gets overlooked. I think if people had a chance to play with him and see him up close, they would how good of a quarterback he actually is,” Boldin said.
Boldin also talked about Quinton Patton, a player that has been unable to produce much in practice with a sprained finger on his left hand. He’s been running routes and has participated fully in camp, but he isn’t allowed to catch balls.
“He’s just a kid with a bunch of energy. Every day he always comes in with a smile on his face, always comes with a lot of energy willing to learn,” Boldin said. “But it’s good because they’re still throwing him the ball because he gets a chance to see the speed of the ball.”
Patton is a player the 49ers would love to see emerge in the suddenly crowded group of receivers. But there is no indication of when he’ll be able to catch passes.
Kaepernick was asked about Boldin and what his veteran presence brings to the team.
“He’s a savvy guy. He’s played in a lot of games. He knows what the defense is doing. He knows where the weak spots in the defense are and where he wants to get to,” Kaepernick said.
And chemistry between a quarterback and receiver?
“I think that’s the most important thing. If the receiver and the quarterback that are on the same page, there’s really no play you can draw up that’s going to work against it,” he said.