49ers Blog and Q&A

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

June 12, 2009
49ers bloom in June

The 49ers just wrapped up seven straight days of practice, the last three of which left their hard-to-please head coach with a warm feeling in his stomach. They have just two more OTA sessions - Monday and Tuesday - before a month and a half break. What has the last few weeks taught us about the 2009 49ers?

    Quarterback. The month of June very much belonged to Alex Smith. I'm not saying that he's ahead of Shaun Hill. The competition to be the starting quarterback actually is a secondary concern. The bigger news is that Smith's right shoulder appears fully healed, and that had to have been Smith's primary worry after two surgeries in the last two years. Smith's spirals are tight, his accuracy is good and he is showing a bit of the aggressiveness that's been missing from him since 2005. He's not perfect, of course. Smith still seems to settle for his bail-out option too often and his passes have a tendency to sail. And as Mike Singletary noted yesterday, all of Smith's practice-field gains won't amount to anything if he flounders in games. But the signs of progress are evident. And in June, that's all you can ask for.


    Offense. When Jimmy Raye was hired at the end of January, everyone was worried that the 49ers offense would revert to "Three yards and a cloud of yawn." I'm not allowed to map out specific plays (my greatest fear is being called into Singletary's office) but I can report that the O is not nearly as bland as initially thought. The 49ers have worked on four-receiver packages this past week. There are a lot of passes between 20 and 40 yards. There's even a dash of razzle dazzle thrown in. And most important, they're making progress. Two weeks ago, I watched the offense run a series of ragged red-zone plays in which it could hardly complete a single pass. This past week, they ran the same plays and missed on only one pass.

    Defense. In a Thursday column, I wrote that the 49ers in general seem far more willing to take chances under Singletary than they were under Nolan. That's especially true of the defense, which is more aggressive and which, with the additions of Dashon Goldson and Dre' Bly, promises to produce more turnovers. Stat: The 49ers have forced 40 turnovers in the last two seasons, the lowest in the league over that span.

    Health. The 49ers offseason was dealt a big blow when cornerback Walt Harris tore his ACL last month. Overall, however, the news is good on the injury front. Though a number of players sat out the most recent OTA session, everyone but Harris and Ray McDonald (knee) is expected to be on the field when training camp begins on July 30 (or thereabouts). Marvel Smith, who did not take part in team drills, is expected to step in as the starter at right tackle. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer and receivers Arnaz Battle and Michael Crabtree also will join their teammates at practice. Battle, by the way, will have to hold off a host of promising youngsters - Dominique Zeigler, Michael Spurlock, Maurice Price - to keep his roster spot this season.

    Rookies. Ironically, two most valuable rookies in practice have been seventh rounders, Curtis Taylor and Ricky Jean-Francois because of injuries at safety and at defensive end. Both are athletic but raw, and injuries likely will determine whether they land on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. Tight end Bear Pascoe has looked good and is getting some old-fashioned hard coaching from Pete Hoener. (see below). Quarterback Nate Davis looks good, though practice-field reps have been few and far between. Linebacker Scott McKillop is studying to be Takeo Spikes' eventual replacement at "ted" linebacker. McKillop has shown better-then-expected instincts in the passing game. (You'll recall that Spikes had three INTs last year from the "ted" position.) Glen Coffee is a violent runner. How effective he'll be is hard to tell until the team puts its pads on. And obviously, we don't know a thing about Crabtree other than he's champing at the bit to return to practice. He's been rehabbing alongside three or four other players, and he's turned even that into a competition. That's a good sign.

    I had to mute this video for a couple of reasons. One was the colorful language being used. The other is because the 49ers now prohibit reporters (for the first time ever) from quoting assistant coaches. So I'll allow you to use your imagination as you watch Hoener demand better technique from Pascoe as star pupil Vernon Davis looks on. Also, the guy watching in the floppy hat is Jimmy Raye.




  • Concerns. The 49ers are light at outside linebacker, the position all 3-4 teams lean on for their pass rush. Parys Haralson looks good, but I'm not yet convinced that Manny Lawson is back to his pre-injury form. I remember Lawson looked like he was sprung from a cage early in 2007. I haven't seen that explosion yet, but perhaps he's - wisely - saving himself. I will say that Ahmad Brooks has looked good in practice. Is it a mirage? I can't wait to see him go one-on-one with Joe Staley and Marvel Smith in blocking drills in training camp. ... Where was Isaac Bruce? Sure, Bruce showed up for the mandatory minicamp, but that was about it. Yeah, he's a veteran and a tireless worker, but he's also learning a brand new offense. Moreover, the young receivers on the team absolutely worship him and drink up anything that comes out of his mouth. Watching Bruce stand by himself at practice, you get the feeling that he is more concerned with Isaac Bruce than he is the San Francisco 49ers.

-- Matt Barrows

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments
blog comments powered by Disqus


MATTHEW 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.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Categories


May 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Monthly Archives


Ask a question

Please use the form below to submit your question. Because there is a 100-word limit for questions, a word counter is located directly beneath the box where you enter the your question.

Name:
City:
 State:
E-mail:

49ers Question:

Your letter contains of 100 words allowed.  Count words


Your IP Address has been recorded as 152.52.255.247 and will be included with this submission.