49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 4, 2009
Baas, Balmer go down on Day 4

The 49ers began their fourth day of physical, padded practice, and they are starting to pay the price. The day began with Patrick Willis (ankle), Parys Haralson (hip), Tarell Brown (toe), Jay Moore (finger) and Moran Norris (hammy) on the sideline. By the end, three more were added to the list. First guard David Baas hurt his foot while going head to head with nose tackle Khalif Mitchell in the nutcracker drill. Tony Wragge took over at left guard for Baas, who walked slowly to the locker room for treatment. Defensive end Kentwan Balmer got caught in the wash on a running play and strained his left knee. He was already playing right defensive end for Justin Smith (veteran courtesy). Demetric Evans took over. Also, Michael Robinson suffered a groin strain. Zak Keasey and Brit Miller took over.

One more injury update on Moore. It turns out he didn't open up a gash on his finger while batting down a pass yesterday. Instead, Moore said the tip of his middle finger on his left hand was mashed between his helmet and someone else's. He was wearing a glove at the time but still needed 12 stitches to close the gash. He said there was some concern that poor blood flow at the tip of the finger could cause him to lose it, a la Ronnie Lott.

Are the physical practices leading to injuries? Yes. Are there more injuries this year than in previous, non-Singletary training camps? No. So far, this is par for the course.

Alex Smith ran the first-team offense. Both he and Shaun Hill again looked sharp. During team drills, Smith was 8 of 10, Hill was 7 of 9. Here were Smith's passes:

  • Quick out to Delanie Walker. 1-1.

  • No one open, so Smith holds the ball and eventually skips a pass toward Arnaz Battle. 1-2.

  • CB Dre Bly seems to have a sure interception on a quick pass, but somehow the ball gets through and into Frank Gore's hands. 2-3.

  • Outlet pass to Glen Coffee. 3-4.

  • Smith to Isaac Bruce over the middle. Nice play. 4-5.

  • Beautiful down-the-field pass to wide open Bruce, who catches the ball in stride. About 35 yards. 5-6.

  • Smith hits Vernon Davis 20 yards over the middle. 6-7.

  • Quick out to open Davis, who has plenty of room to run. 7-8.

  • Rolls right but throw is slightly behind Dominique Zeigler and broken up. 7-9.

  • In the shotgun, Smith throws quick hit to Coffee. 8-10.

You may notice that the offense has been completing a lot of passes. Asked about that today, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said that both the offense and defense are installing various packages and that those installs don't always happen at the same time. As a result, one day the offense can look inept, the next day it's the defense that looks bad.

Manny Lawson batted down another pass at the line of scrimmage today. Lawson is tall, long-armed and can leap. Those attributes, coupled with the fact that he'll be around the line of scrimmage more, ought to result in a lot of knock downs, right, Manny? "I think that's going to be a huge role of mine," he said.

It's fun watching some of these assistants coach their units. Today I focused on Tom Rathman, whose theme seems to be power and detail. He got on Brit Miller, a guy I wrote about today, for not hitting the blocking sled with enough pop. In another drill, the backs had to run up to an overturned trash bin and then slide to their left as if the bin were a tackler. Frank Gore and Thomas Clayton did the drill well, but Kory Sheets' slide left something to be desired and the rookie heard about it from Rathman. One thing you don't want to be in training camp: a rookie.

Funniest fashion statement: Hill's plain white t-shirt with red lettering: 100 percent steroid free. (As if we were wondering ...)

-- 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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