Before we get to a review of the AM practice, this is probably the best picture I've seen from camp so far. Josh Morgan brought in a one-handed catch that had to be rather pretty, but this is still pretty impressive looking. As always, scroll over the picture to get a link to view about 10 more pictures from practice today.
In his recap, Barrows pointed out that this practice crystallized the QB battle. He pointed specifically to Alex Smith's abilities on the deeper passes, and Shaun Hill's abilities on shorter plays. In fact, according to Barrows, Hill was 11-12 and Smith was 5-9. Obviously that number has to be considered in the context of the distance of the various attempts (which we don't have at thia point). He didn't go much beyond that, while Maiocco and Mike Sando both came as close to declaring a leader as one might expect at this early a juncture.
Maiocco's article was particularly intriguing as it addressed a point that has been raised here time and again:
Smith looks very good on the practice field . . .
This morning, Smith was again very accurate. He is throwing the intermediate and deep balls exceptionally well . . .
If - IF -- Smith can carry over his practice-field success into the exhibition games against the Broncos (Aug 14) and Raiders (Aug. 22), there is a strong chance he will be the starter when the regular season opens.
The key, as has been said again and again and again and again, is whether Smith can turn these practice performances into game performances. Yesterday's practice didn't provide me enough opportunity to observe Smith make many deep passes. It was more of the short stuff, which probably favors Hill a bit. One of Smith's problems is his lack of touch on some of these shorter passes. I had a chance to meet up with Florida Danny recently (he was in SF for some other stuff) and he made a good point. In the past, on some of those checkdown passes Smith would still wind up like he was going deep and fire it in, when really a weak throw was what was needed.
We've got a quick injury update after the jump...
Kentwan Balmer was out for individual workouts again, as was Parys Haralson (out with a hip since the weekend). With Balmer it's good to see that he can at least get some workouts in. Those knee injuries automatically make me assume the worst when they happen. He was clearly in pain and even wripped off his helmet and flung it to the ground when the play happened.
Chilo Rachal left yesterday's practice with what is being described as a migraine. With David Baas also still out, the 49ers went with Cody Wallace and Tony Wragge at the two guard positions. Eric Heitmann went down with an injury at one point but returned later in practice. During that time Wallace moved to center and Matt Spanos came in at guard. Given Heitmann's current abilities, Wallace will definitely want to show versatility outside of the center position. It's not that he's going anywhere anytime soon, but a little versatility never hurts a guy in the eyes of the coaches.
The 49ers have only a special teams practice this afternoon so I likely won't have a recap for that unless anything interesting pops up.