EAGER ADAMS: Second-year defensive tackle Anthony Adams can’t wait to play in the 3-4 defensive set the Niners plan to make part of their defensive packages this season. Adams will line up at nose tackle in most of those schemes. “I like it,” he said. “Being in the middle like that, it’s kind of like I’m really naked. It’s like I really don’t have nobody right next to me. I have to worry about getting triple-teamed and stuff like that. That’s what it feels like. I mean, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like being down in the trenches like that.”
IMPRESSIVE ADAMS: And Adams figures to be a major player in the defensive trenches for the Niners this season. He has looked quick and sharp throughout the spring and will provide a new dimension alongside Bryant Young as compared to the starter he’s replacing, Travis Kirschke, who had to put forth the best performance of his career last season just to keep Adams out of the starting lineup.
BUSY BOY: Adams was excused from last week’s passing camp to work on his final credits toward his college degree at Penn State. He returned Monday to attend this week’s camp – the team’s final big bash of the spring – but will return to Penn State to finish his degree this month once minicamp is finished. “I’m missing class right now as we speak,” Adams said, smiling.
IN FOR TRYOUT: Tight end Steve Bush, a seven-year NFL veteran who was released last week by the Arizona Cardinals, was in for a tryout with the team Tuesday. But coach Dennis Erickson didn’t seem to need the extra look at a player who could contend to be the Niners’ third tight end behind Eric Johnson and Aaron Walker. “I've seen Bush for seven years,” Erickson said. “I've watched him play on video, I know what he is. I don't even know if we need to work him out, to be honest.”
WHAT ABOUT BRUCE? Arland Bruce isn’t a player that’s getting mentioned a lot with all the new faces at wide receiver, but he isn’t necessarily being overshadowed by the new influx of talent at the position. Bruce always has had the quickness, and he is running routes better and snagging passes more consistently than he did last year. His return skills landed him a spot on the 53-man roster to begin the season last year, and he has a legitimate shot again if he proves to be more dependable than one of the younger prospects many have already earmarked for a roster slot.
TAKE TWO AT TAILBACK: There’s a pretty good competition going on right now between Jamal Robertson and Terry Jackson for the backup role at tailback behind Kevan Barlow. Both players have been taking advantage of their opportunities in camp and displaying polish at the position. Jackson and Robertson both are key special teams players, so the Niners would like to have both of them on the team this season. Undrafted rookie Jason Wright, who was impressive in the May minicamp, will have something to say about that once training camp starts. Wright isn’t attending the June minicamps, per NFL rules, because his class at Northwestern still is in session.
WONDERING ABOUT WOODS: Rashaun Woods, the team’s first-round draft pick, is under the microscope just about as much as any player on the team. His progress is a daily subject of discussion and evaluation, because so much is needed and expected from the position and, of course, because he’s this year’s No. 1 pick. “I feel like he’s progressing well,” quarterback Ken Dorsey said. “I think he’s learned a lot about the system and about how to run routes, and learned a lot from the guys who have been around here. And I think he’s excited about what he’s been through. I think we’re all excited with the progress he’s making.”
LOVE THAT LLOYD: But at this point, you probably can get more excited about Brandon Lloyd. Bigger and better than last year, Lloyd might just be the best receiver the Niners are putting out on the field right now.
PETERSON POPS UP: Julian Peterson, of course, is a camp no-show again this week, just as he was at the team’s first two minicamps. But his name popped up again Tuesday, along with the possibility his dicey contract situation could force him to miss all of training camp. Even for a stud like Peterson, that would leave him considerably behind in the Niners’ scheme, particularly since the team is implementing new things under new defensive coordinator Willy Robinson. “Anytime you miss training camp, you miss stuff,” Erickson said. “The more training camp you miss, the more you miss. We're adding things here defensively; we're different defensively than we were a year ago. We're doing some different things. If you miss some of that, you miss it. You're going to have to make up for it."
PETERSON’S PLACE: It’s not like the 49ers are just holding open a space for Peterson while he is absent. As Erickson said, “We have to play whether he’s here or whether he isn’t here. We (still) have to put everything in.” But the Niners aren’t trying to fill in for the versatile Peterson with one player. Depending on the situation, “We have some different people that can do it.” Erickson said.
HOLDING ON: Will there be a place for Jerome Davis this year on a revamped offensive line? There just might be. Davis, a 30-year-old journeyman who has spent time on practice squads in Detroit and San Francisco, has had two stints in NFL Europe and one in the CFL, finally broke through and spent most of the season on the 53-man roster last year, though he only played in two games and was inactive for 10. He continues to show progress after switching from the defensive line in 2002 and will challenge for a tackle spot in training camp.
YOUNGSTER TO WATCH: Undrafted rookie Melvin Simmons continues to show fine closing speed and instincts at linebacker, and it appears he is working his way into more time on the field during team drills.
BEST BATTLE? Most starting positions are set on defense, but that’s not the case at free safety, where it’s obvious the team won’t decide between Ronnie Heard and Dwaine Carpenter until the pads go on in late July. “Between Ronnie and Dwaine, that will be a battle,” Erickson said. “Ronnie and Dwaine can play both safeties, too. It's a battle. I wouldn't say anything until we get into training camp. I think Ronnie is experienced. His experience at playing safety gives him a little bit of an advantage going into training camp. We moved Dwaine a lot. He played corner, came out of the Arena League and he played corner and then he played safety. He's been all over the place. At least he's getting settled in one position now.”
HAVING FUN: The Niners are getting some quality work done this week, and it appears they’re having some fun doing it, too. The same holds true for their coach. “Yeah, we've executed and improved,” Erickson said at the end of Tuesday’s session. “The spirit is good. Everybody is practicing really hard. People are here. It's been good. I've had a lot of fun coaching.”
And the fun has just begun. These football festivities still have two days to go.