A friend of the site Vini Chopra attended the 49ers training camp on Monday. Here are his observations from what he saw from the team:
– Not sure what the beat writers were talking about the last couple of days regarding Braylon Edwards not looking good or being out of shape. He looked like, easily, our most legit WR out there, and probably our most legit WR since T.O. in practice. He’s physically imposing, but on all the routes and drills, he looked so crisp. He made several nice grabs as well. He snagged a nice jump ball from Alex Smith in the end zone and got both feet down too. Also was nice seeing him give some pointers to the other WRs in terms of which leg to plant and cut on for route running.
– The other WRs were iffy. Ginn dropped a few and Josh Morgan should have made a nice grab on a fly route where he made a double move. However, he dropped the ball. Ronald Johnson looks like a WR, but still needs some polish. Same with Kyle Williams. Still, not a bad group though. When Crabtree comes back, it should really add some weight to this group.
– Saw Crabtree signing autographs at the end of practice. He looked good. He had a slightly different boot on his injured foot, but nothing too bad. I think he should recover in time and the dude was genuinely nice.
– Our running game looks really versatile with Harbaugh’s offense. There were all kinds of runs set up in various ways, with motions and shifts. The BEST run play of the day though went to Colin Kaepernick. During 11-11 drills, he faked a hand off into the middle. The entire defense got fooled and followed the RB on the play, and he bootlegged out to the left and scrambled past Taylor Mays for a 60 yard touchdown. It was amazing. There were several other handoffs that were unconventional or far more sophisticated than the “run right at them with a dive” philosophy of Singletary’s last year.
– Gore looks really good this year. Looks like the best shape he’s been in and he just looks quick. Dixon and Hunter also looked good, but Hunter did fumble a ball. Dixon looked like a bell cow out there, and took some hits from the defense.
– QB of the day was Colin Kaepernick, who seemed to get a lot of reps. He’s looking more polished throwing the ball than in college for sure. His delivery may not be text book, but the ball definitely gets out quickly and he made several great throws in a 2 minute drill. He also seems to show a ton of poise for a rookie QB. Even when the protection broke down, he didn’t hesitate too many times and actually found WRs down the field instead of dumping it off. He did throw a pick and had a few badly thrown balls, but he has a ton of confidence in his arm and even shows nice touch down the field.
-Alex Smith was okay in drills. Lots of animosity and negativeness surrounding him in the stands, with people booing or shaking their heads at seemingly every bad throw. However, it wasn’t all bad. It seems like Harbaugh has worked with Alex on his release and the ball gets out better. He also shows better footwork, at least in my opinion. Still, he did throw a few ducks and wobblers out there today, and his accuracy sometimes isn’t where you want it to be. But he made some nice throws too, including a floater to Vernon Davis in the middle of the field that went for a touchdown.
– Jeremiah Masoli didn’t really stand out. Backup duty at best. He really seems a bit short for the position. Would love to upgrade here with a legit backup.
– Defense looked more aggressive overall. Pressure from the safeties and OLBs on a lot of plays during 11-11 drills. Aldon Smith stood out. He’s just physically imposing and has extremely long arms. Parys got blocked on his ass during a drill, which was funny/not surprising lol.
– Really like Chris Culliver. I agree with Matt Maiocco: the guy might not have polish, but he looks like a corner and I think he can really develop into a solid one. He was nice in coverage.
– Carlos Rogers was also really good in coverage. He stayed with his WRs and locked down any deep threat. Solid CB play by him throughout and he looked quick. Was weird seeing him wear #22 because you don’t typically associate such quickness with Nate Clements like I saw out there with Carlos Rogers.
– Didn’t really get to observe the d-linemen and o-linemen too much since, even though it was a padded practice, there wasn’t a HUGE amount of hitting. I can say that the o-line reflects a lot of the great blocking schemes from Stanford last year. They look more organized and actually plan blocks instead of going out there and trying beat out 1 guy.
– Overall, this was the best 49er practice I have seen since the Mariucci era in 2002. This just looks like a legit operation. There were times in the past with Nolan and Singletary where I’d be bored watching, but the tempo with Harbaugh and the drills they do just seem legit. Talent will always dictate how well we do, but the coaching seems way more professional. Whether it’s Harbaugh getting involved with drills and showing the QBs what he wants or Brad Seely’s enthusiastic special teams coaching, the practice had a really good feeling to it all. Also, things seemed to reflect game situations more often. We actually practiced jump balls, fade routes, 2 minute drills, 4 minute offense, etc. It was really cool to see.