The 49ers opened up their organized team activities and while we can't deduce a whole lot from the first mid-morning practice, there are several items of note. Before getting into that, as I'm not actually down there for the events, I'm relying on the likes of Barrows and Maiocco, as well as any other info I can scrape together. Consider these open threads AND link dumps to acquire any and all information about the activities.
First and foremost, Arnaz Battle is not in the house. Battle had indicated he would be at the OTAs, but apparently Mike Nolan has not yet heard from him. Hopefully everything is all right. When a player misses the June OTAs and it is not excused, it's some kind of hold out. The only possible hold out reason is a lack of playing time since it's like Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson will be the #1 and #2. However, prior experience would indicate Arnaz Battle is not the type of guy to bitch and complain about playing time. He seems to just keep his head down and do what he has to do. I'm assuming more information will be revealed in the coming days if Battle doesn't show up.
Second, Justin Smith spent a good deal of time at both outside linebacker positions. It sounds like Smith will be moving all over the place, which is something I like to see on the defensive side of the ball. If your players show versatility it allows you to throw out a variety of defensive fronts and has to help somewhat in keeping the offense off balance. Along with Smith playing OLB, Manny Lawson and Joe Cohen took part in individual activities, with next week likely being the time they'll be cleared for full participation. If Ray McDonald continues to improve from last year, I wouldn't mind occasionally seeing the DL and LBs go McDonald, Franklin, Sopoaga, J. Smith, Willis, Ulbrich, Lawson. And that doesn't even factor in Kentwan Balmer.
Third, Alex Smith played with the first-team offense today and Shaun Hill will go first team tomorrow. Smith answered some questions from the media:
Q: How is the new offense different than the old one?
A: It's hard to say. I think we do a lot. We do everything. Every style of offense you can imagine, we have a piece of that in there, it seems like. We're trying to incorporate as many different things as possible and give defenses as many different looks as possible. We're pushing that envelop.
Q: What are the things you emphasize in your mind that you have to do well in this offense?
A: Executing is No. 1. For the quarterback, it's the clarity - understanding and being comfortable with it. So when we come out here and take these reps, you're really letting go and cutting loose and playing fast. You don't want to be out here thinking. I'm battling that right now. (I) try to be prepared to come out here and play fast.
Q: Technique-wise, how much has Mike worked with you and does the stuff he's thrown at you still feel foreign?
A: Yeah, we've all worked hard on the fundamentals and worked hard on the things he's emphasizing at the quarterback position - things he wants to see out here. Some are more comfortable than others and some are more foreign than others. That's the stuff you try to come out here and work on your own on our stuff, so when you're doing team reps, you're just playing. You don't want to be out there thinking about fundamentals. You want to be thinking about offense and defense.
Q: It looks like you're rolling out and moving more than those other quarterbacks with the Rams and Lions. Is that the case?
A: Maybe. It's just something where you're trying to play to different strengths, maybe. It's something we've done here in the past. We have rolled out a lot and done a lot of movement. I think (Martz is) maybe incorporating that and watching some of the stuff we've done and been successful with. It adds another dimension. He doesn't want to be cookie-cutter. He's trying to mold it to the strengths here.
I'm not sure of the practice schedule, but if I see any info following an afternoon practice, I'll add it in to this post.