I ended up getting home late from a softball game and wasn’t able to get the PM practice recap up. Given my plans for today, I thought we’d roll out some quick thoughts (and Singletary/Raye transcripts) to tide you over. I’m heading down to training camp this morning and will be getting a post AM practice up hopefully no later than lunch time.
Shaun Hill continued running the first team offense yesterday afternoon. Maiocco made a comment that the passing game is far ahead of where it was a year ago at this time. One has to imagine that is due to the use of what is hopefully a less complicated passing attack. From day one we knew the Martz passing game was complicated. I recall reading how Smith and Hill were both putting in a lot of hours just learning all the wrinkles of that offense.
While I’d imagine Jimmy Raye’s offense isn’t "simple," I’m also assuming it is not on the complication level of the Martz offense. The upside is that rather than spending a big chunk of camp learning the offense, they can implement it right away and work on the timing and chemistry. While that doesn’t guarantee success, it certainly can’t hurt. Maybe it will lead to an improved offense early on. We’ll see how it plays out.
Both Matts indicated that Jay Moore had a solid afternoon of practice, with Barrows going so far as to call him the MVP of the PM practice. As much of an irrational fan of his as I am, I do realize it’s going to take a lot more practices like that, along with some solid exhibition game performances to garner a roster spot. That and avoiding IR for the third straight year.
As I mentioned I’ve included the post-practice press conference transcripts for Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye. Raye had a variety of thoughts about the offense, but I thought I’d focus on his comments about the wide receivers. He had a lot of great things to say about Josh Morgan in particular:
Well, I didn’t know him before I got here. For a big-bodied guy, for a big receiver, he has excellent explosion for a guy his size. He doesn’t look like he would have that kind of explosion, but he’s an explosive guy, a great leaper. His range, because of his arms, his circumference range is very good. He can get to some balls with extension that some guys can’t. So, that part of him, what I’ve seen so far and the physicalness of him so far and the blocking part of it, is very good . . .
He’s a plus because he’s a multiple guy. In a three-wide set he could play all three positions, including the slot, or the F as we refer to it. He can play both X and Z, and so that makes him, in a game-day situation, a real plus, a real positive because he’s multiple enough that he can learn it, one, which is a plus, and he can play both receiver spots or inside at the F in a three-wide package. So, that’s a positive for him and us.
He also had a line about Arnaz Battle that would seem to help Battle in his bid for a roster spot. He was asked what other receivers can play both the X and the Z:
Arnaz Battle is a multiple spot guy, and Brandon Jones is a multiple spot guy.
Combine that with Battle’s special teams abilities and he certainly is headed in the right direction.
I have to say I’m quite excited to get out to practice. I know some of you have expressed an interest in hearing more about what Singletary has to say and what is going on in some of the individual workouts. I’ll see what I can come up with for you. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for what Singletary has to say to the team during 11-on-11 drills. It’s my understanding that he’s giving press conferences every other day, so I probably won’t get to see him speak to the entire media today.
Matt Barrows Recap
Matt Maiocco Recap
Post-Practice – 08-03-09
San Francisco 49ers
On the progress the team has made so far:
"We’re making strides. We’re getting a little better. We just have to get a little better every day. We made some strides. Not bad."
On why LB Patrick Willis sat out of practice:
"It is just a little, slight ankle strain. A very light ankle strain. We’re just keeping him out, but he will be fine."
On how long Willis will be out:
"We’re not even thinking about it. We’re fine. It’s day-to-day. We’ll be good."
On when he learned the nutcracker drill:
"I first learned the nutcracker drill in Chicago, when Coach Ditka came to the Bears. That is when I first learned it. The nutcracker drill we are doing now is different than what we did then."
On how he did the nutcracker drill differently in Chicago:
"There was more shedding. It was more of a hit and get off. A lot times with that you have a guy that may get up, and then you have a guy going three or four times against him and you’re not getting any work in because you’re just jumping around. The thing I wanted to do was have both guys get up there and really get the fundamental work in, of going through a guy, rather than going around or jumping around. It is working out better."
On whether the nutcracker drill will wear guys down:
"I don’t think a nutcracker drill right now will have anything to do with guys breaking down. As a matter of fact, the nutcracker drill is going to be what helps them stay alive, in terms of defending themselves and knowing the tools they have. They are not going to get it any other time, so we take advantage of it now."
On when he will stop doing the nutcracker:
"We’ll play it by ear. Like I said before, Fergie (Head Athletic Trainer Jeff Ferguson) and I will continue to talk, and the way we handle the drill is pretty safe. It’s pretty fool-proof. The thing I really want the guys to get is just the technique and the battle. That’s all it is."
On keeping players fresh throughout camp:
"Right now, with all of our players, it is just one of those things where we are looking at them and monitoring them accordingly. We are talking to the coaches and the trainers so we are being smart with each and every player we have."
On Frank Gore’s expected workload throughout the rest of camp:
"Like I said, we’ll play it by ear. I’m certain he is going to get some work and we’ll monitor it as we go. It is easier when you start early and you get guys the exposure they need and the work they need. As we get going forward, Frank is one of those special guys and as time goes on we are going to be monitoring and watching it. Trust me, he’ll be fresh when the season starts."
On what he has seen from LB Ahmad Brooks:
"Ahmad is a guy we are very excited about the opportunity he brings to our defense. We feel he is a guy who is going to continue to grow and make plays. He is out there all over the place making plays. So it is very exciting."
On DE Kentwan Balmer’s performance today:
"He did okay. We have to keep working him. We just have to keep working on the little things, the details. Kentwan will be fine."
On guys who stood out during the nutcracker drill:
"A number of guys are getting better at it. I feel, right now, the most important thing is for our coaching to continue to emphasize the little things and get the guys the tools so when they are in a game they can adjust accordingly and go from there. There are a number of guys on both sides of the ball that are getting better. I don’t want to single them out for now, but they are getting better."
On TE Vernon Davis leaving the nutcracker drill early:
"Vernon is one of those guys you just have to get away from contact. He loves contact, but that was all he needed. I just really wanted him to get away from there and go do something else. He is a guy, if you let him, he’ll stay there all day. That’s him. Anything he can do to get him the heck away from what we were doing over there is fine."
On the young receivers’ progress:
"They are coming on. [WRs coach] Jerry Sullivan is doing an outstanding job continuing to work with the younger guys. They are continuing to watch Isaac Bruce and see some of the things he is doing, and learning to become a pro. I think the guys are making great strides."
On when he expects WR Michael Crabtree to sign with the team:
"I’m really not thinking about it. When he comes in, we’ll be excited to get him. But until that time I am just going to focus on the guys who are here."
On how he is approaching the quarterback competition right now:
"It is making sure everything else is right. The offensive line has to be right. The protection has to be right. The receivers have to be running their correct routes at the right time. The better everything else around them gets, the better you can evaluate the quarterback. That is really the thing we are focusing on right now. I think both quarterbacks are continuing to get their timing down and get the trust with the receivers."
On how his quotes keep showing up on billboards and T-shirts as part of the team’s marketing campaign:
"I don’t really know how that got going, or why people thought it was worth putting up on a billboard. For me, the most important thing is that it is happening out here (on the field). The words, they can go on billboards, they can go on T-shirts, but if it is not going on out here on the field, we need to take them down quick."
On building a team identity:
"Each and every day, that is a thing we have to focus on. Before we can do all the other things we want to do, we must know who we are. We must have that in place before the season starts, and we will."
San Francisco 49ers
On the importance of bringing in a fullback and what he’s seen from the group:
"Well, with our installation process, we have a couple of different personnel packages. That was one that we were initially wanted to make sure we got covered so we could play some two-back offense. And during the spring, the transition was very good. Then, coming into this training camp, we continued that process with the people we had here. The veteran guy, Moran Norris, arrived late yesterday, and he picked up this morning where he was this spring. That part of the development of it, to this point, has been good."
On Mike Robinson’s ability to play a hammering type of fullback:
"That’s not him. That’s not him. He’s more multiple in 21, and they have to make a decision defensively how they will treat him, though we will still do the same things. He won’t be as big physically a match-up as the other guys, the other three guys will. But he will – if he’s in there, he will be doing the same kinds of things."
On the development he’s seeing in the offense:
"It’s very similar to – it’s similar and dissimilar. Because they have on pads, we get to see a little bit more of their ability to play in a competitive environment. It’s different than the spring when they’re in shorts. And, the installation and teaching part of it, we’ve been pleased with. It’s ongoing. The physicalness of it, with the pads and the competitive part of it, thus far has been good."
On Josh Morgan’s emerging role:
"Josh is in the mix. Josh is doing a good job. That group as a whole is doing a good job. [I’m] very pleased with them at this point. Josh is doing a good job. He’s one of the two or three guys that we have that can play both sides, can play X and Z. So his progress has been good. He’s in competition with the whole group and he’s doing a good job."
On what he’s seen in Josh Morgan’s development:
"Well, I didn’t know him before I got here. For a big-bodied guy, for a big receiver, he has excellent explosion for a guy his size. He doesn’t look like he would have that kind of explosion, but he’s an explosive guy, a great leaper. His range, because of his arms, his circumference range is very good. He can get to some balls with extension that some guys can’t. So, that part of him, what I’ve seen so far and the physicalness of him so far and the blocking part of it, is very good."
On what he’s seen in Brandon Jones:
"Brandon has done well. He’s transitioning out of a different system, so his learning curve has been good. Brandon, this camp, has made plays down the field on deep balls. He has some good change of direction and explosive, long speed. He’s done a good job. He’s in the mix with the rest of that group in terms of where he’s going development-wise and what he’s been able to do in this early training camp."
On how he feels about the backup running backs:
"Well, I think there’s competition at all of these positions at this point. Because, you’ve got to remember now, we’re in training camp. The evaluation process is still going on, and there are some numbers there. Frank Gore is a given in terms of what he’s done and what he’s accomplished in the league, but there is some competitiveness in the numbers of people that we have there. And the question earlier about Michael Robinson, he’s also a guy who can carry the ball along with Kory Sheets, along with Glen Coffee and along with Thomas Clayton. Those guys are in a competitive situation, and we’re pleased with that."
On the importance of keeping Frank Gore fresh throughout training camp:
"That is a problem that all 31 other teams in the league [have] because what the 80 number has done to people in terms of going to training camp and the two-a-day practices, the proven players and the little bit older players, the guys in the plus 4- to 5-year range, you’ve got to have ¬– when you’re going two-a-day – you’ve got to be judicious with their time in terms of the installation and how they practice and make sure you don’t run all the rubber off the tires before you get to November."
On how the opportunities for Josh Morgan change based on receiver slot he plays in:
"He’s a plus because he’s a multiple guy. In a three-wide set he could play all three positions, including the slot, or the F as we refer to it. He can play both X and Z, and so that makes him, in a game-day situation, a real plus, a real positive because he’s multiple enough that he can learn it, one, which is a plus, and he can play both receiver spots or inside at the F in a three-wide package. So, that’s a positive for him and us."
On the other receivers who can play both the X and the Z:
"Arnaz Battle is a multiple spot guy, and Brandon Jones is a multiple spot guy."
On how difficult it will be for Michael Crabtree to catch up when he does come into camp:
"I don’t know. I don’t know anymore about Michael Crabtree now then I did when we drafted him, other than what we evaluated him on college. I think you all are probably a little more concerned about him not being here than we are. We basically – when he comes, we’ll welcome him and start and see where he is and go from there. Right now, he would fall into the mix with the rest of the guys and the evaluation process will go forward. I anticipate that when he gets here he will be behind the learning curve, obviously, because he had no spring and no OTA practices, or no offseason practices. But, I think when he gets here, we’ll put him in the mix and we’ll go forward with him."
On whether Michael Crabtree’s absence gives the other wide receivers more opportunities and the coaching staff more opportunities to evaluate the receivers who are practicing:
"Yes, it would because you’re practicing 10 guys as opposed to 11 or 12 guys. So, when Crabtree is added to the mix, obviously, somebody, the reps will get spread out more. So, it’s a great opportunity for the people here to take advantage of the extra reps that they are getting in terms of the evaluation. And they’re doing it with the pads on, which is another plus because in the spring it was shorts and t-shirts. Now it’s a competitive deal doing the same thing, so, obviously, the reps that they get are better for them."
On what he has learned about Vernon Davis thus far:
"Well I don’t want to get into what he’s not good at in terms of bulletin board material for the defensive coordinators around the league, but he is an explosive, competitive tight end who is a guy you don’t have to substitute out of the game in passing situations. He has wide receiver speed and has ability in the running game to block a defensive end. What I’ve seen of him, his development has been very good. We just need to keep him going forward in terms of what we ask him to do and make sure we don’t overload him in terms of the distribution in the run-down, pass-down situation and the in-line blocking. But, what we’ve observed to this point, his development has been good. He’s done a good job of what we’ve asked him to do. I would think he would be a guy that as we go forward, he stays on the field in all down and distance situations and will be a real plus for us."
On whether Marvel Smith is back in the flow of things, physically and technique-wise:
"What I’ve seen of him in the pads, in the practices that he’s been in, he seems fine. Until the training room people or the medical people say something different to me about him, I’m evaluating him as he falls into the mix and as he gets his legs back under him because as you realize, he’s a plus-8-year guy. So, he’s one of those guys that, as he goes forward and get his legs under him and gets more comfortable, he has played a lot of NFL football games. So, at this point, what I’ve seen of him, he’s been fine. Until such time as somebody medically says something about him, I’m going to assume he’s going to be a competitive player for the position at right tackle."
On whether he’s been trying to get Vernon Davis the ball more in practice:
"No. It’s not intentional. We’re installing and going forward, and that’s what we do. The tight end is a big part of the way we play offensive football, as past history of places I’ve been would indicate. It’s not by design that we are going up and putting in plays to throw him the ball. We are doing what we are doing in the installation part of it, and it happens to be that as we do things, the tight end is a big part of it. Fortunately for him, like I said on answering the previous question, is he is a guy who can be in there all down and distance situations, so his opportunities increase."