49ers Blog and Q&A

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

June 2, 2009
Roman returns, Clements out with pneumonia

And then there were none. One day after veteran receiver Isaac Bruce rejoined his teammates at OTAs, safety Mark Roman, who had been seeking a trade, did the same. Roman had ankle surgery in February, but the procedure didn't seem to affect him on the field today. With Michael Lewis sitting out the OTA's, Roman lined up as the starting strong safety today next to starting free safety Dashon Goldson. In fact, it seems that Roman will be the first option at both positions should there be any injuries this season.

Roman wasn't required to be at practice until Friday's mandatory minicamp. He said he wanted to get his "legs back under me" before that camp begins. Roman had been told early in the offseason that Goldson, who has shown a much better knack for producing turnovers, would replace Roman as the starting free safety. Roman was given permission to seek a trade that would allow him to be a starter, but he never found the right spot.

"There was (interest), but the circumstances that came with them were a bit much," Roman said. "For whatever reason, it didn't go through, but I'm here. Happy to be here. Can't wait to start. Can't wait to get into mini camps and stuff like that. Came out here today and ran around a little bit -- little, little rusty. But, I'm alright."

The attendance news wasn't all good. Starting cornerback Nate Clements isn't just under the weather, he has pneumonia. Clements has missed the last two practices and he is not expected to take part in the mandatory weekend minicamp. Tarell Brown and Dre Bly were the starting cornerbacks for the second straight day. With Shawntae Spencer (knee) and Walt Harris (knee) also out, the position is wafer thin. The next option is Marcus Hudson and beyond that there are only undrafted free agents, Carlos Thomas, Jahi Word-Daniels and Terrail Lambert.

The others who probably won't take part in the minicamp are receivers Michael Crabtree (foot) and Arnaz Battle (foot), defensive end Ray McDonald (knee), cornerbacks Harris and Spencer and rookies Alex Boone and Pannel Egboh. Crabtree, by the way, did some rehabilitation work with trainers today on an adjacent practice field but has not yet started running.

In the comments section yesterday, one of the more astute - and blunt - readers suggested that outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, absent for the last two OTA sessions, needed a kick in the pants (not the actual phrase) from Mike Singletary. Well, Brooks got just that today. Brooks received an earful from Singletary during practice and got a little of the one-on-one Singletary treatment after practice, too. Singletary seems to have made Brooks his pet project this offseason. If he can get the talented linebacker's head screwed on straight, it will be worth the effort.

How did the 49ers look today? Well, I guess that depends on your perspective. If you're a fan of defense, they looked fantastic, especially the linebackers. Patrick Willis, Takeo Spikes and Jeff Ulbrich all came away with interceptions. The offense? Eh, not so hot. In fact, during one nine-play sequence, Singletary was keeping score as far as which unit won each play. The final score: defense 7, offense 2. The ninth play ended when quarterback Shaun Hill's pass to Vernon Davis was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Ulbrich. Singletary immediately stopped practice and huddled the team together after the play and delivered a few pointed words.

The offense mostly worked on red-zone plays today with the bulk of the practice conducted from the 10-yard line in. Perhaps the best offensive sequence was a dart from Alex Smith to Davis in the back of the end zone in which Davis had to leap and stretch his arms to snag the ball. Davis' hands and his agility have been problems in the past, but both seem to have improved this offseason. Neither Smith nor Hill looked particularly sharp in the last two practices. That, however, likely can be attributed to learning a new phase of the offense.

Joe Staley is not injured, but he practiced sparingly today. Because of that, Barry Sims was the starter at left tackle and Jacob Bender was his back up. Isaac Bruce attended practice but did not participate.

The first mandatory minicamp of the offseason will run Friday through Sunday. Friday and Saturday's sessions will have a morning and afternoon practice. Sunday's will be limited to a short morning session.

-- Matt Barrows

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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.

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