49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

Both Alex Smith and Shaun Hill ran the two-minute offense today in practice and the outcome was, well, what you'd expect from two passers still learning Mike Martz's complex offense. Working with the first unit, Smith's passes were invariably nice, tight spirals and he attempted several passes deep downfield. But some of the passes were thrown too late and were behind his receivers. Smith's main target was receiver Bryant Johnson. He connected with Johnson on his first two attempts. But his final attempt to Johnson in the end zone was picked off by safety Keith Lewis. The following clip is of Smith in the two-minute drill. It's hard to see, but his pass actually gets picked off by secondary coach Johnnie Lynn, who, after all, is a former safety. Mental note: Full zoom makes the images look like they're something out of an Impressionist painting. That's Manet-to-Manet coverage they're using

06172008042-001 from http://sparrow280.vox.com/

Hill, meanwhile, looked just like he does when he enters games. Working with second- and third-team players, the offenses seemed to be more in-sync. But his passes didn't have Smith's zip and he often settled on dump-offs to running back Michael Robinson. Hill's first three attempts, in fact, were to Robinson (two completions; one dropped pass.). Hill did hit receiver Robert Jordan on a pass across the middle, but his floater in the end zone to receiver Dominique Zeigler was intercepted by rookie safety D.J. Parker (who has looked good, by the way).

As far as deciding which of these players will have the edge in training camp ... well, the 49ers are still deciding. Mike Nolan said that he will get together with Martz and Ted Tollner after OTAs end on Thursday and begin laying the groundwork for training camp. "I wouldn't even go there now," Nolan said when asked who was winning the quarterback competition. In discussing Smith, for instance, Nolan said that Martz's offense forced Smith to pick up blitzes more quickly and to throw to the hot receiver. Hot reads were a big topic of conversation today and it's an area where Nolan's seen progress since last month's minicamp.

Will J.T. O'Sullivan get worked into the starting quarterback competition? O'Sullivan received scant work in team drills throughout OTAs, but Nolan continues to say good things about him. Nolan said that he was convinced he has three quarterbacks on the roster "who can win a game for us." He also said O'Sullivan was "probably as competitive as anyone we've had around here from an individual personality standpoint." Still, it's hard to see O'Sullivan getting more reps when training camp begins. The bottom line is that Martz's offense is so complicated and so dependent on synchronization between the quarterback and the receivers that can't be a split competition for too long.

Right tackle Chilo Rachal and Kentwan Balmer were matched against each other during much of the two-minute drills. It's hard to give an accurate evaluation when linemen don't have their pads on, but Balmer seemed to get around the outside of Rachal with ease on a couple of plays.

The 49ers claimed former USC defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey off of waivers today. The Eagles drafted Ramsay in the sixth round in 2006 but cut him last week. He played in six games as a rookie and nine games last season.

Tackle Ramiro Pruneda will join the team in training camp as part of the league's international practice squad program. Pruneda (6-6, 317) led Monterrey Tech to four Mexican national championships and merits consideration despite his international roots. He went to training camp with the Chiefs last year and spent the season on the Chiefs' and Eagles' practice squads. With Pruneda, the 49ers will be allowed to keep nine players on their practice squad this year.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

June 2009

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