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49ers training camp, day 1: A couple of performances to highlight

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I wanted to highlight the performances from two players who I think will be key for this season: Chris Culliver and Jimmie Ward

Thearon W. Henderson

Out of all the areas of weaknesses on the 49ers, I think I am most concerned with the secondary.

I don't think this is outrageous, to be honest. That's been pretty much the biggest area of weakness on this defense for the last few years and even though things are up in the air with NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith, I'm fairly convinced that we have adequate answers for those problems already on the roster.

No, I think the secondary is probably the biggest concern, which is why the news coming out of day one of training camp is so encouraging. It appears as if Chris Culliver has returned to form. You always worry about guys returning from a torn ACL. Even though players are getting remarkably good at coming back from these types of injuries (sometimes even stronger than before, which only makes sense if torn ACL victims go live in the Marvel universe for a year while rehabbing, but whatever), it just takes that one injury to sink a guy's career.

Well, it doesn't look like Culliver is having any lingering effects, which is a good thing. Vic Fangio spoke about Culliver's performance on Thursday, and said he looked fine, and did not look like a guy who had been going through a year of ACL rehab. Moreover, he played well during his first practice, which is an even better thing. I would suggest reading David's excellent recap of the practice here.

David also make sure to mention the praise that Jimmie Ward received from the beat writers about his day at the nickel back position. Currently, Ward is practicing with the second team-he's behind Perrish Cox-but he is impressing nonetheless. Ward had an interception, making a play on the ball after it was tipped away from the receiver.

These are a couple of players that I'm going to be keeping my eye on this offseason because their production is going to be key for this defense. If Tramaine Brock can continue his strong play from last season, particularly his play from the first half of the season, then I think that puts even more pressure on Culliver and Ward to help lock down the rest of the field. But, if this can happen, with contributions over the top of course, then that gives your talented d-line and linebackers the opportunities to get the QB to the ground. And, we know how effective that can be against every QB except Drew Brees' neck.