On the Field
Whatever stood between Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis last season when the two had a hard time connecting appears to be long gone.
Kaepernick found Davis on three long gains again in Sunday's practice, as their relationship through the air has highlighted the offensive side during training camp.
As Kaepernick continues to improve his touch on longer passes, so does his ability to find Davis in various spots on the field.
Sunday, they connected on a 40-yard seam route, a deep crossing route and a corner route where Kaepernick split Craig Dahl and Carlos Rogers perfectly with a touch pass that floated softy into the hands of the Pro-Bowl tight end near the goal line. And with Vance McDonald sitting out of practice against Sunday, Gerrett Celek also had a productive day working with the first team offense.
In the last six regular season games of 2012 combined, Davis had just six catches for 61 yards and no scores. But that changed dramatically in the playoffs when Davis amassed 12 receptions for 254 yards and a key touchdown in the NFC title game.
It was another quiet day for A.J. Jenkins, who was targeted sparingly. But he continues to get a bulk of the reps as the team does everything it can to get the most out of the former first-round pick.
Tarell Brown sat out practice for the second-straight day and spent Sunday's session working out in the weight room. Same for Joe Staley, McDonald, Jewel Hampton and Bubba Ventrone. None of their injuries appear serious.
Tramaine Brock dressed, but didn't receive any reps in 11-on-11 drills. It's likely he's dealing with a minor injury suffered in Thursday's preseason game. Nnamdi Asomugha and Perrish Cox received an increased load in his place.
The red zone was an area of improvement Sunday. Kaepernick converted on three plays during the session, including two to Frank Gore. One was an improvised flip after a broken play forced him to roll out to his right. The other came in the front-right corner of the end zone when he rolled right that way and hit Gore as he dove. He also found Chad Hall on a post route in the back of the end zone.
In the Press Tent
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman was first up in the media tent Sunday and was asked about his receiving corps and Marlon Moore starting in Thursday's loss against the Broncos.
"Whoever plays the first play of the game, they’re in the fist play. We’re a multiple-personnel group team," Roman said. "If you’re on the active roster, you will have a role. That’s where our focus lies.”
In other words, Roman wouldn't commit to the idea of Moore being penciled in as the No. 2 receiver distinctly, but his performance in camp to this point allowed him the luxury of getting just nine snaps. Only Lavelle Hawkins (6) had less.
But Roman backed off that idea slightly when he answered the next question about getting reps for players he believes will make the team.
"I don’t know there’s always going to be one guy in with the (first team). There’s going to be some flexibility there we’ll continue to grow,” he said.
Roman was also asked about Jenkins and his feelings on Thursday's loss when there were two turnovers on plays where he was involved. Jenkins was to blame for the first fumble lot, but the interception thrown by Colt McCoy came on a ball that was clearly overthrown.
"I think everybody has those plays," Roman said. "You got to bounce back from them, you got to get better, you got to learn from them. I think A.J. does a lot of really good things and he’s just got to continue to work and get better day by day.”
Roman's session was highlighted by his reference to Alex Smith as a "nameless, faceless opponent." But he went on to praise Smith for his two seasons of work under his watch noting "He’s a fine, fine competitor and quarterback.” The 49ers will travel to Kansas City to play Smith and the Chiefs this week for their second preseason tuneup.
Nnamdi Asomugha was second up and offered candid answers about his performance Thursday and how his progression is going with his new team. He mentioned his liking for the 49ers coaching staff repeatedly, talking about its use of positive reinforcement and abilities to work with players one-on-one.
Asomugha is in a situation he's never dealt with during his 10-year career: he's battling for a roster spot. And his physical ability being questioned by coordinator Vic Fangio to the media hasn't altered his demeanor from the other 10 training camps he's taken part of.
“I think mentally my head is in the same place. I’m a very self-motivated guy and it’s not the situation around me that’s going to bring out the best in me. I wouldn’t say that it’s much different in that way. There’s always the goal in my head to bring out the best, however many snaps that is, whatever that means for the future, put my best foot forward," Asomugha said.
"There’s not much that someone else might say that makes me feel like I need to be motivated in a different way...I’m probably saying worse than the next guy’s saying anyway."
With Brown and Brock out for the last two days, Asomugha has seen increased reps with the first-team defense and appears to have taken advantage. But the impact of Eric Wright's addition to the roster has yet to be seen. The team has given no indication of when Wright will begin practicing.
Aldon Smith took to the podium and talked about the reserve outside linebackers who had a productive game Thursday. Corey Lemonier played well in his first NFL action while Dan Skuta had two sacks.
"When it was time for them to make plays, they stepped up and made plays," Smith said. "(Lemonier) did a good job, had a couple of nice rushes. He was really on top of his stuff out there. Skuta also came in and had a really good game."
Aldon Smith didn't offer up much regarding going against his former quarterback Alex later this week. But when asked about adding a little extra on a potential hit, Smith quipped, "We'll see, right?"
The gleaming topic of camp has been Smith's hair that's garnered some national attention thanks to social media. Smith was pressed on the issue.
"I decided that I wanted to grow my hair out, the Jheri Curl, and see where I’m gonna take it. I’m gonna grow it until it becomes a problem.”
The record holder for sacks in the first two seasons of a career (33.5) said he has not received any endorsement offers from hair products, yet.