The 49ers got through their second day of padded practice with a few bumps and bruises but some interesting developments as well.
1. Mr. Goldson, please answer the white courtesy phone. Mark Roman had to sit out today's practice with a hamstring strain, meaning Dashon Goldson practiced with the first team defense. As long as Roman gets back to healthy I'd imagine he'll hang on to the starting free safety job for at least the beginning of the season. However, if Goldson continues to make plays, as he's done in practice so far, he could snatch the job away. Of course, if both are playing well, I'd imagine the team would find ways to get both in the lineup. Goldson played a good bit of cornerback in college so he has the necessary flexibility.
2. Now if only Jennings could stay healthy and keep his head on straight, for crying out loud. Both MM (see the comments at the bottom) and Barrows have pointed out that Jonas Jennings has been the best offensive lineman in camp, with MM also giving a plug to Eric Heitmann. Heitmann struggled last season after coming back from a busted up leg. Jennings has had off the field issues and injury issues crop up ever since he signed his 7-year deal with the 49ers. If these two guys can stay healthy and have bounce back years, I think this offensive line goes from weakness to strength. Staley still has to prove himself at left tackle and Baas/Wragge/Rachal have their work cut out for them. However, the talent is there for the 49ers to have a very good offensive line this season. That would be HUGE for whomever is leading the team at QB.
3. QB numbers. Maiocco has been so kind as to provide his unofficial pass statistics for the 11-on-11 dills: Alex Smith is 65 of 99 (65.7%) with 1 TD and 3 INTs. Shaun Hill is 60 of 94 (63.8%) with 1 TD and 4 INTs. A couple things to keep in mind on those statistics: 1) The 49ers have worked inside the redzone in only one practice, 2) It's not a TD if it's not caught in the TD or there is no defender between the receiver and the end zone when he catches the ball. So those numbers certainly have to be taken with a grain of salt.
4. Thank the lord he didn't pull a Jay Moore. Kentwan Balmer injured his ankle when a teammate fell on it during a running drill. There were worries it was a high ankle sprain, but it appears to only be a mild sprain. Moore suffered a high ankle sprain last year and missed the whole season.
5. Some other injury news. Arnaz Battle was held out of practice but it appears to be a simple precautionary measure. He has had knee injuries and other bumps and bruises in the past. Battle has reached that point where he's turning into an established veteran where you know what you're gonna get from him. You never want a guy losing reps in practice, but if it keeps him healthy I suppose it works.
I wanted to wrap up with an interesting quote from Mike Nolan after practice:
"Yesterday we had three turnovers and a couple of incomplete passes that when we get our timing and all down will be big gains. They turn into interceptions because they bounce off a guy’s pads or something happened that we might have gone to an inside guy instead of the outside with the ball. Just little things that when we get it down is an opportunity for a big play. We have to understand that. Guys come out and say, ‘Well I saw this with turnovers.’ But when you analyze it, it’s the right decision and makes us a big play that we didn’t have before. So there’s excitement. The guys see it, but you have to point it out so they’re not wondering, ‘Did I really see that, or did I not?’ When the coach talks about it, it’s a little bit more real than them looking at each other and saying, ‘Did you almost make a big play?’ ‘Yes, I did.’ Players are always going to say, ‘Well I almost hit it out of the park.’ And they popped out. It’s not really the same thing.”
This is one thing we all have to keep in mind as we roll through training camp. With the new offense, it will definitely take some time for the offense to come together. Mike Martz mentioned he had never been in a situation like this with an even split of snaps between the top 2 QBs. I certainly hope that isn't detrimental to the development of some sort of cohesiveness in the offense.
This continued development of the offense will be something to keep an eye on through each othe preseason games. I definitely want to try and do some charting of plays and see what kind of success Smith and Hill have early on. It's only preseason, but for a small stretch Smith/Hill will still see #1 defenses so there should be some valuable analysis available.