This is Grant Cohn, but some people call me Iggy. You can call me whatever you’d like. I’m your new 49ers blogger. I’ll be reporting and tweeting every day from training camp in Santa Clara as soon as it opens, whenever that may be. Until then, I’ll join Bob Padecky and Phil Barber in providing […]
Tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati were the objects of Niners’ fans obsession as offseason practices got underway. How big were these guys? Could they move? How were they looking in action? Were they ready to start? How about now? And now??
With the 49ers working without pads throughout OTAs, rookie camp and mini-camp, all of the questions regarding the first-round offensive linemen were answered with definite maybes.
Meanwhile, second-round pick Taylor Mays and third-rounder Navorro Bowman were stealing the show.
Does the depth chart mean anything in June?
I was especially interested in the chart when OLB Manny Lawson returned for the 49ers’ minicamp on Thursday. It made me wonder how Mike Singletary and Greg Manusky would divide the first-team reps when Lawson and Ahmad Brooks both took the field. I was mildly surprised that Lawson worked almost exclusively with the starters.
It meant something to me. But did it mean anything to the players? I inquired, and got very different responses.
The 49ers’ 2010 offseason is in the books. The team has concluded 14 OTAs, a rookie camp and a two-day, three-practice minicamp. That’s a significant amount of public work and, as you can imagine, not all men were treated equally. Here are the climbers and fallers from May and June. Consider this the last round of 7-of-7 for a while.
QB Alex Smith: Is Smith an improved quarterback? We’ll have no idea until at least preseason, and probably into the regular season. But it’s clear that he has greater confidence and command of Jimmy Raye’s offensive system, and that’s the first step.
CB Keith Smith and LB Brandon Long: You can’t fall any further than off the roster. These two were cut/waived this past week.
Sometimes, standing on the practice field and watching another 7-on-7 drill, it feels like there isn’t a lot going on around an NFL team in June. Then you get to the end of a five-day, six-practice week, and you realize there simply wasn’t enough time to talk about everything.
I’ll be adding some blog posts early this coming week, looking back on what just happened. In the meantime, here are some random locker-room quotes that seem worth echoing, even if they don’t fit into a larger story.
Notes and observations from this afternoon’s minicamp practice, the 49ers’ final offseason work of the year…
• The team released CB Keith Smith and waived LB Brandon Long. Smith had played three games with the Niners in 2009. Letting him go could be seen as a vote of confidence for players like Will James and Phillip Adams.
• Practice was open to a small horde of suite holders, who packed bleachers and stood along one sideline, cheering on Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree.
As they sweated through a one-day rookie camp in early May, then progressed through OTAs and into the current minicamp, gradually gaining first-team repetitions while absorbing a crash course in NFL blocking, tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati probably were feeling pretty good about their progress.
Not that Davis and Iupati should suddenly be doubting their self-worth, but things have looked a little different the past couple days, as the 49ers ran their first one-on-one drills of the spring. Suddenly, the rookies were on that proverbial island, with no help and no chance of blending into the background – and the results weren’t always pretty.
Notes and observations from this morning’s minicamp practice…
• As many had suspected he would, coach Mike Singletary canceled the final day of this minicamp, meaning this afternoon’s practice will be the final team activity until training camp. That cleared up the mystery of the double-booked coach. Or did it? Singletary acknowledged to reporters after the morning practice that he was headed to Illinois for three services at Willowcreek Community Church, but denied he was set to speak at McHenry West High School.
Singletary explained his decision to cut work short this way: “These guys have worked hard. They worked their tails off, all offseason. The attendance has been high. … I knew early on, the last day of this, we were not gonna do it.”
It’s pretty clear that disgruntled NT Aubrayo Franklin will not be here in Santa Clara for the final day of minicamp tomorrow. But how about coach Mike Singletary?
As reported by NationalFootballPost.com, the United Way of Greater McHenry County in Illinois is advertising a fundraising event for Saturday, June 19, that includes a motivational speech by the 49ers head coach. It’s at the McHenry West High School campus from 12-3 p.m. local time, with Coach Sing speaking at 1 p.m.
That’s 11 a.m. California time, when the 49ers should be a half-hour into the morning practice.
I posted earlier on Manny Lawson’s return to the fold. Here is the entire transcript of Lawson’s interview session, which lasted just under four minutes. It probably would have gone on longer, but he had to hustle out of the locker room to a 2:30 meeting. Lawson’s a good talker and, apparently, a thinker, so I thought you might enjoy the full interview.
Notes and observations from the first day of the 49ers’ three-day minicamp…
• Didn’t take long for LB Manny Lawson or CBs Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements to get back in the groove. All three moved smoothly into first-team repetitions, pushing Ahmad Brooks, Tarell Brown and Karl Paymah to the second unit. The three prodigal sons looked solid, if not perfect, in their returns.
• Rookie RB Anthony Dixon, limited by a sore hamstring the past couple of weeks, returned to full participation and looked quick for a big man.
Linebacker Manny Lawson generated most of the buzz today, but two other 49ers defenders made their locker-room debuts of 2010. Cornerbacks Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements, both of whom skipped all the voluntary practices, are here for the three-day minicamp that is about to begin.
Both talked to reporters, and both sent out the same message: They’re happy to be here, but the workouts they really needed were elsewhere.