2009 49ers Training Camp: Oh yea, there was practice yesterday

Lost admidst all the Crabtree hubbub was the fact that the real 49ers were actually on the practice field twice yesterday.  Preseason games are fast approaching (kicking off a week from today), so players are definitely going to have to get their act together if they want a chance for meaningful playing time in the first preseason game.

The photo above is actually from Wednesday's practice, but I thought it was particularly cool looking.  We don't have any new photos at this point, although they seem to come in every other day or so.

There were two practices yesterday, meaning we had a pair of reports from Barrows (AM practice and PM practice) and Maiocco (AM practice and PM practice).  Given the plethora of info, first I'll try and provide some of the highlights

  • Injuries: Josh Morgan strained his neck in the morning but was back for the afternoon practice; Delanie Walker suffered a concussion and missed practice; RJF and Moran Norris were both back at practice today; Patrick Willis sat out with his ankle strain, but apparently he seems to be doing fine and is just getting more of a breather for now; Brandon Jones strained his shoulder this afternoon and will be re-examined tomorrow.  It sounds like he's had a solid camp so far, so let's hope it's not too serious
  • We had our first fight of camp and SURPRISE SURPRISE, it involved Vernon Davis.  Apparently he tangled with Marques Harris before Coach Singletary took him aside for a "chat."  Apparently Singletary's policy is that when someone fights the whole team has to run.  And run they did, the width of the field 12 times.  I'd imagine we won't see much more fighting with that rule in place...don't ya think?

What seemed most interesting was the implementation of the 2-minute drill offense in the afternoon practice.  It sounds like both QBs looked solid and were able to lead their respective offenses down the field from their own 40 into the end zone.  Barrows has the more detailed breakdown of each drive.  After last year's debacle against Arizona in the closing seconds, I would hope the team gets a lot of practice in on the 2-minute drill.  And I'm sure we all hope the team has a chance to utilize it with a chance to win some games.

We'll be back with slightly more fresh recaps of the Friday practices later today.

After the jump we've got post-practice transcripts from Shaun Hill and Alex Smith...

QB Shaun Hill
Post-Practice – 08-06-09
San Francisco 49ers


On how the offense is progressing through training camp:
"I really feel like we are progressing well. I feel that we are further along now than we have been in previous training camps. They key now is to keep doing that and keep improving every day. We need to keep taking steps forward."

On why the team is further along this year:
"I think we are a more cohesive unit. Guys are playing that have been here before and have been together for a long period of time now. Even though the big story is going to be that we have a new offensive coordinator, we have a cohesive unit out there that has played together for quite some time. The offense we are running, with the way [Offensive Coordinator] Jimmy [Raye] teaches it, he is preaching more the perfection of the offense as opposed to having a million plays. I think that is really helping us out. We are able to go out there and run these plays numerous amount of times and really get the details down."

On re-doing plays when they go wrong in practice:
"There are certain times when we will start a period over. It’s not just one play. Sometimes we will re-do a play and sometimes we will re-do a whole period if it starts off real sloppy. Those are things that happened during the past a little bit, but I think we are doing it a little more now just to make sure everybody is on the same page and we get it right."

On how he feels his performance has been during training camp:
"I don’t know. I’m the worst person to ask about me, to be honest with you. I feel comfortable with what we are doing, and I feel the whole offense is getting that as well. That is as much as I can say. I’m the worst critic of myself. I’ll sit here and give you guys a bunch of negatives to write about me, and that is not what I want."

On the tight ends having an increased role in the offense this season:
"We feel that we can create some good mismatches with Vernon [Davis] and Delanie [Walker]. They are very athletic for tight ends. If we can get them matched up in space we feel good about that. That is part of our emphasis, without a doubt."

On why he has thrown shorter passes during training camp while Alex Smith has thrown longer ones:
"Some of it is a matter of circumstance. Some of it is style of play. There are times when I watch film, I will go into film wondering why I got off a deep route, but it is a pocket thing. There is a presence in the pocket that made me move. Things you consciously don’t know out there, but something made you move and you don’t know until you see the film. Then you say to yourself, ‘Okay, that is why I came off that way.’ Some of it is style of play and some of it is circumstances."

On the perception that his arm strength limits the passes he can make:
"What is nice about what we are doing offensively is that there is not a throw out there in Jimmy Raye’s offense that I cannot make or I don’t feel comfortable making. I feel comfortable with all of our down-the-field stuff and our vertical stuff."

On the challenges of building chemistry with the first unit while sharing the snaps with Alex Smith:
"That makes it more difficult. I mentioned in order for me to become the starter, our offense has to click with me in there, and it is more difficult when you have to make the No. 1s click one day and the No. 2s on another. That does make it more difficult. That is not an excuse by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to give more of a conscious effort to make each group jell every practice."

On what WR Michael Crabtree is missing out on by not being at training camp:
"Obviously, he is missing the reps right now. But, there is still a lot of training camp left, so he can get that made up."

On whether he has worked with Crabtree at full speed:
"No. He wasn’t full speed at all during the spring."

On how often he calls audibles during practice:
"I’d say it happens two or three times per practice maybe, on average. Some practices are more emphasized on that and some are more on calling it and running it. So it depends on the practice."

On who is having a good training camp so far:
"There are a lot of them. I told Frank [Gore] this, but I don’t know if I have ever seen Frank go like this. He is going. He is hitting the holes hard. He runs fast. As hard as he has been working, for him to still be out there looking that fast is pretty impressive. Vernon, the same thing. He is going hard. He is taking a heck of a lot of reps. He is doing well. Isaac [Bruce], of course, he is going to be what he has been his whole career. There are a million guys. Josh [Morgan] looks good. All of the receivers look good. As you would expect, the more the quarterbacks and receivers get to work together, the better we are going to work. All of them are doing a great job. There are a ton of guys who are stepping up out here."

On how the team feels about fights during practice:
"Obviously, that is not something we want. You can’t fight in the games so we’re not going to do it in practice. Everybody knows that, obviously. But we are out there in the heat of the battle and everybody is competing at an extremely high level, so tempers might flare from time to time. But, we are trying to stay away from that kind of stuff."

On how the other players deal with players who fight during practice:
"I don’t know. I was a little too tired even know what was going on around me. We condition every day and that kind of stuff. I know if it was me making the team run I’d feel awful about it. But at the same time, the guys who are running just look at it as a chance to condition a little more."

On whether he expects the quarterback competition to last until the first game of the season:
"I hope not. But as long as it is still open, I know we will both be out there competing and going hard. But, even when it is decided, nothing is going to change. I know myself, I’m still going to go out there with the same approach every day, and that is to improve. Nothing is going to change whether we are in the quarterback competition or not."

QB Alex Smith
Post-Practice – 08-06-09
San Francisco 49ers


On how the offense is progressing:
"I feel good about it. We are still installing the offense in chunks. Each day, we are putting empshasis on certain things that we are putting in that day and so there will come a time. When those installations start slowing down and then everything is just going to come together. We’re a little more cohesive now. We are practicing so many situations, short yardage, red zone, third down, two minute, whatever it is. You practice those for that day and then the next day it’s another installation. Obviously, we’ve been practicing those situations, but I do feel good about it. I feel like we’ve come a long way. I think we’ve put in all that time in the offseason. I think we’ve taken the necessary steps here."

On what from this offense is most similar to Norv Turner’s:
"I would say from a terminology standpoint, yes, as far as the language we use, the way the offense is organized, it’s similar in that sense. But, I would say that’s kind of where it ends. They are similar, but it’s a little different. I think the things that we are trying to do with this offense, will be a little different. I don’t know, I don’t see us being like that as much. We are similar, but I don’t know, I guess I just see us as doing more. Does that make sense? Not that we didn’t do a lot with Norv, but I think we have the ability now and we’ve got a lot of talent out there and I think we have the ability now to show a little more."

On using the tight end more this season:
"Those are guys that we have to take advantage of. Vernon [Davis], Delanie [Walker], the rest of the tight ends, those are guys that need to step up for us. We need to take advantage of their ability. They’re a matchup problem for a lot defenses, so that is something that we need to develop."

On the importance of long passes because of an emphsasis on the run:
"I think they go hand in hand. In order to have everything going, you have to play action off of it. If not, then you will just get overloaded boxes and they are going to come up with something and you have to be able to keep defenses on their heels. Some of that requires some play action chunk plays, getting the ball downfield, stretching defenses, don’t let them sit on you, play on top of you. I think you get them off of you a little bit. You get them on your heels."

On why he has had more opportunities to throw downfield:
"It’s probably just pure coincidence. I honestly would say that, just how the scripting worked out because when they script practice, they don’t script according to what reps Shaun [Hill] and I are getting because we are kind of doing that as we go. Shaun and I are switching off, so I think it’s just pure coincidence."

On his maturation as a quarterback:
"I think that comes with comfort and confidence as you spend more time in an offense. The more comfortable you get, the more ownership you take of it. Therefore, you have more knowledge to go outside their lines a little bit and take more freedoms within it."

On whether he calls guys out for making mistakes:
"I’m not a real ‘calls guys out’ type of guy. We are trying to get it fixed at this point.  Calling guys out and things like that sometimes isn’t necessary, especially now. We are trying to get it right. We are trying to learn. This is the time we are trying to get prepared for games. So right now, a little more constructive, get guys after, make sure you get it right, make sure you are seeing the same things, you are communicating. That’s what is important right now. If we have to get in a group to get us to go because we might be flat or something, that’s another thing, but as far as getting things corrected right now, I think we are really trying to be constructive and are trying to build this."

On not focusing as much on fundamentals early on in his career:
"I would agree with that in the sense that, and I hate saying this because it’s not an excuse, but when you have some of that turnover on offense, the priority turns to learning that playbook as opposed to fundamentals, and that falls on me as well. I think at points in my past, yes I’ve really strayed away from that. I’ve focused on the playbook more than my fundamentals, and both are equally as important and this year I think I’ve done a much better job with Coach [Mike] Johnson and Jimmy [Raye] of walking that line. I’ve really been working hard on fundamentals, my footwork in the pocket, as well as in the playbook because they are both really vital to being a good quarterback."

On whether the quarterbacks coach is focusing on the fundamentals:
"He is really good with it. It’s the most work I’ve really got, as far as pocket stuff, my feet, it’s the best I’ve felt with it."

On if this is the best he’s seen Frank Gore:
"I would agree with that. It’s the best shape, the fastest he’s practiced, the best he’s looked."

On whether he feels like a different quarterback this camp:
"I hope so. You have to take that step, you have to learn, you have to grow with it, good and bad. You certainly don’t want to stay the same. Also, I’m definitely better. I think I’ve grown, I still have a lot of growing left to do, but definitely."

On how he feels different this camp:
"I’m more mature. I definitely think I have a different look at the game, a better understanding of the game. I’m just coming into my fifth year in the league. I think, when I look back to where I was, out there playing, I didn’t have a great grasp of all the different situations, not a great command of those the last time that I played. So I think I have got a better sense of that, managing the game."

On whether the competition will stop even after a starter is named:
"I don’t imagine because whoever gets in as the starter, the other guy isn’t just all of a sudden going to relax. You’ve got to be ready to go. I think we are going to constantly be pushing each other. It’s a 16-game season, just look at the history of quarterback play around the league, especially here, you better be ready."

On what he feels he needs to prove this season:
"I think it’s playing at a high level consistently, that’s it. You can’t be showing glimpses of it, the ups and downs, and the roller coaster of it. Not to say there isn’t going to be bad plays and mistakes. Playing at a high level consistently, playing fast, consistently, that’s what it is going to be about."

On how everything is organized in this offense:
"Yes, I think there is far more organization in this offense, a little bit more about execution than about Xs and Os, which is a good thing."

On who else has had a strong camp:
"This is one of the most physical camps that I’ve seen. I think our guys up front, especially on the offensive line have been extremely physical up front. It’s been great to see. I think the physical toughness as well as the mental toughness has really stood out to me."

On whether it’s difficult to establish rhythm switching off:
"Yeah, it can be when you are switching groups from [No.] 1s and [No.] 2s, but you have to deal with it. It’s part of the deal."

On whether he feels the physicality as a quarterback:
"Yes, we aren’t really doing the nutcrackers, but you still feel it. We aren’t kickers or anything, but are still out there going, no offense to Joe Nedney."

On who would win in a nutcracker between him and Shaun Hill:
"He’s got the weight advantage for sure, I don’t know. It’s a little bit, you feel it. When we are out there, we are going, we did pitch count, and how many balls you throw you feel that and all the drops. Definitely, you get it and work through it like anyone else."

On what he is doing to try to win the job over Shaun:
"I think I try to play to my strengths, that’s correct. I don’t think I do anything subconsciously because of Shaun. I’m going out there to try to play the best I can. I’m trying to make this offense work to the best of its abilities and play fast, make good decisions. All the things that a quarterback needs to do and I’m trying to do that. Any other things that go into that might just be the style of our play, but no it has nothing to do with us being friends. It wouldn’t change if we didn’t like each other. I’d still go out there and play just the same."

On whether he has heard from Michael Crabtree:
"I haven’t spoken to him since this summer. It’s something that I haven’t thought about to tell you the truth. I’m pretty focused with the guys here right now. I’m developing that. I look forward to it being done, but other than that I’m not really worried about it right now."

On whether Crabtree is discussed in the locker room:
"I have not talked about it at all with anyone."

On what he is missing out on by not being in camp:
"When you are a rookie, you are already behind the eight-ball. You are so far behind you are just trying to play catch up. You miss out on so many practices, being a part of this team and obviously all the timing that goes on out there, knowing that position, it makes it hard."

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