SANTA CLARA –
After warm-ups and drills, the real practice started with a 9-on-9 goal line scrimmage.
It was the first team offense against the first team defense, but backup Anthony Dixon lined up at tailback instead of Frank Gore. Alex Smith hiked the ball and handed it off to Dixon, who chose to bounce his run outside to the left. This was a bad move.
Patrick Willis caught him in the backfield and stripped the ball. This was the last carry of the day for Anthony Dixon, as far as I could tell. I asked Harbaugh after practice if Dixon was hurt, and he said no.
The other back up running back, Kendall Hunter, got more reps but didn’t fare much better than Dixon. Hunter rushed for no gain eight times and struggled in pass protection.
It was not a banner day for these backups. Frank Gore got most of the reps at tailback and looked stellar.
Alex Smith got most of the reps at quarterback and looked pretty good. He completed 22 of 35 passes, which is good. He threw two touchdowns, which is also good. One was a 20-yard seam to Vernon Davis in the end zone. The fans went wild on this play, partly because their starting quarterback threw a picture perfect TD, and partly because Vernon Davis ran around the stands giving out high fives.
The other touchdown was a 50-yard pass against the second team defense to a wide-open Ted Ginn streaking down the right sideline. It was a terrific throw with a tight spiral.
But Smith also did some things that were not-so-good, like throw two interceptions. On one, Smith telegraphed a pass to Braylon Edwards, who was running a quick slant. Tramaine Brock jumped the route and picked Smith off. On the other interception, Smith had Vernon Davis open on a seam route down the middle of the field, but he threw it short and Patrick Willis made a diving catch.
Of Smith’s 22 completions, five were longer than 10 yards, while six were check downs to Frank Gore.
Colin Kaepernick’s day was up and down as well. He completed just 13 of 24 passes. On one play, he badly under threw Vernon Davis over the middle and got picked off by reserve linebacker Alex Joseph.
He had some good moments too. He threw a 35-yard strike to Delanie Walker on a deep cross. He also threw a perfect 30-yard pass to Kevin Jurovich, who was tightly covered by Chris Culliver. The pass was right on Jurovich’s back shoulder, and there was nothing Culliver could do to break it up.
Kaepernick ended his day with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Konrad Reuland.
Jeremiah Masoli took almost all of the 3rd team reps at quarterback. After practice, Harbaugh confirmed that Masoli is only a quarterback for the 49ers, not a jack-of-all-trades. Harbaugh also said Masoli “throws the ball like a professional quarterback.”
Masoli’s best moment came during a two-minute drill. Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick each failed in their two-minute drills, moving the ball down the field but not scoring. Masoli did not fail. He threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Beiler on the first play.
Braylon Edwards struggled. He didn’t catch a single pass in 11-on-11s, and he had at least four drops. He doesn’t look like he’s in football shape yet. He only plays sporadically and he gets winded fast.
The players have the day off tomorrow, so the next practice will be Monday at 2:30 p.m.
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