While things have been a bit down the last couple of days, the 49ers do have a training camp going, as they prepare to face the weighty expectations flowing freely this year. This is probably just as important a training camp as any in the last five to ten years.
I'm planning on getting down to Santa Clara for camp a couple times next week, but in the meantime, let's check out what is going on in the South Bay. Coach Nolan has a notebook each day and I'll plan on posting the highlights each day. Additionally we'll look into other areas of the team's day in and day out routine.
Nolan addressed everything from injury issues to the impressions various players are making on and off the field:
Secondary Improvement? -- I don't go there. All I can tell you is that on paper, we have definitely improved. And if or when, I should say, we play as a unit. We will be considerably better...Both of our draft choices (Dashon and Tarrell) are going to contribute in some form or fashion. As we go forward, hopefully they stay healthy and make us better.
Tarell Brown impression -- Some guys would come in, with the little baggage that he has, and feel like they have to be quiet and just kind of hide over here and not say anything....He's very outgoing, talks a lot and plays with a lot of confidence which is really good...Now off the field that's where you have to slow down your lifestyle if that's the case, if that's where people are criticizing you. But he's a good kid. He works hard and likes to play. He's been doing a good job.
Team Goals -- The expectations are that it will be a disappointment in the end if we don't make the playoffs, but the same thing right now is what we pointed out to our football team, everyone's expectations are high right now...The only thing that I want to point out about expectations is that ours aren't flustered from one year. We started two years ago and we've continued to get better. We've added good players and good people, as well as strengthening the structure and the way we do things.
One Word to describe Larry Allen -- BEAST (You just gotta love that kind of quotation!)
Vernon Davis trash talk -- It doesn't bother me a lick, as long as you can back it up...we just need to be smarter about making sure it doesn't cost us.
Coach Manusky's imprint on defense -- I would say like to see them take on some of Greg. I think that Greg has a lot of passion for the game and I love that about any coach and I love that about any player.
Clearly a lot of the answers are a bit sugar-coated and more cliched than anything. However, if you read between the lines I like what he has to say about Tarell Brown and I'm glad to hear him address Vernon Davis's notorious chippy-ness. People have wondered if he's mature enough to make the leap to greatness and it looks like Nolan is willing to give him a longer leash in that regard. I think by posting some of Nolan's Q&A's each day we might be able to get an idea of any pattern and hopefully move beyond cliches and the usual jibber-jabber.
Also, the 49ers home page had an interesting article discussing the state of the 49ers linebackers.
Rookie linebacker Patrick Willis has been quick to take his cue from the veterans around him...The rookie displayed his athleticism in the period, making two good plays in the same drill including one where he stopped fellow rookie running back Thomas Clayton in his tracks on a cutback run...
Willis continued to play physical during the team session when he laid the wood on wide receiver Brandon Williams, who showing his own tenacity popped right up from the hit.
Assistant linebackers coach Jason Tarver liked what he saw from his group today, including a play by returning linebacker Brandon Moore in the team period where he made an excellent read to get to the ball carrier..."They came out and really tried to be physical," said Tarver. "They flew around and went to the ball. They have to play hard and play right and right now they are playing hard and trying to do it right. We'll eventually get to where they are doing both out there."
Combining the improvement of the linebacker corp with the improvement and depth of the secondary should more than make up for an absence of a pass rush from the d-line. The only weakness in the linebacker corp is a potential lack of depth. Assuming either Smith or Willis is starting and the other is backing up, the rest of the backups inside are Jeff Ulbrich, Hannibal Navies and Colby Bockwoldt so far. On the outside, we've got Parys Haralson, Roderick Green and MY BOY Jay Moore. I'm curious to see who step up in the preseason to become key backups.
One other quick programming note. Now that training camp is going full steam ahead, there are more than enough links to get a full on link dump together. I'll get something going as a diary tomorrow and hopefully turn it into a daily feature.