Day 4 of training camp has commenced.
After arriving at 49ers headquarters, I, along with other members of the media, made my way to the media work room. First and foremost, the 49ers facilities and Levi’s Stadium are first-class. The layout and atmosphere are astounding. While I’ll be the first to say I was sad to see Candlestick go, their new home in Santa Clara is tremendous and will be a phenomenal experience for players and fans.
Our day began with a press conference from Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh was in good spirits but kept things brief and general. He began by talking about the running backs. When asked about how Marcus Lattimore has been progressing mentally as he returns from injury, he quipped that he is "not a psychologist." He did say that he's coming along well physically and that the loss of running back Kendall Hunter does not impact Lattimore or his timetable.
Harbaugh also noted that he likes what he sees from Carlos Hyde. He said that Hyde has done some really, really good things so far. In briefly addressing Kendall Hunter, Harbaugh said he feels "physically sick for him" (in reference to Hunter's season-ending ACL injury sustained yesterday). He applauded Hunter as a player and person and is confident he'll attack rehab with the same tenacity he did with his Achilles' injury in 2012. Lastly, he spoke of Jewel Hampton and indicated that Hampton has been patiently waiting for his opportunity to contribute.
The conversation shifted to Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial. As is customary for Harbaugh, he heaped praise upon both players, specifically stating that Carradine is "even further along." "Strong—off to a strong start." When the topic of Alex Boone's holdout came up, Harbaugh didn't offer any updates and simply noted that he's not in camp and the focus is on players who are in camp. In reference to Lawrence Okoye, Harbaugh felt that his pad level is better and specified the "bull rush" as his strength: "He gave Joe (Staley) everything he could handle."
I asked Harbaugh about tight end Vance McDonald's improvement in year two and what the expectations are. He said that expectations are high; the coaching staff always feels that the biggest leap in a player's career is from year one to year two and they've seen that in McDonald.
We then made our way to the practice field for a few individual player sessions. Quinton Dial, Lawrence Okoye, and Chris Cook were on-hand to field questions.
1. Quinton Dial
- Said that he's put on some weight and increased strength
- Took advantage of the time he sat out with injury last year to learn from players like Glenn Dorsey and Justin Smith
- Using his long arms for leverage and "doing whatever the coaches ask" of him
2. Lawrence Okoye
- Said he's come a long way from last year; has to keep going because it's a "long journey"
- It was a big occasion for him to get back into pads—he hasn't been in pads since August
- Noted that he's worked with Joe Staley and continues to work on getting low
- Joked that he doesn't watch last year's tape because it's "too painful"
- When asked why he's chosen football, he responded that he "enjoys the collision aspect" of the game
- Brought up a quote during the session which I found telling of the 49ers' culture:
"If you hang your hat on what you've done so far, you're not going to last."—Lawrence Okoye
3. Chris Cook
- When asked what's different about San Francisco vs Minnesota, he spoke in broad terms. He noted that he's not a rookie coming into SF like he was in MIN. He also said that it's a little bit more "man to man"
- Tries to go up against Crabtree, Boldin, and Johnson whenever he can
- Spoke highly of Brandon Lloyd's route running ability
- Noted that he's worked on locating and tracking the ball in air and that the best way to go about that is through repetitions
That's all for now. Be on the lookout for updates from David Fucillo and the rest of the NN staff throughout the day. I'll be checking back in with a breakdown of practice later this evening or tomorrow morning.