Checking in with 49ers’ offense after OTAs

The 49ers went through two days of practices – aka, organized team activities – Monday and Tuesday in Santa Clara. These workouts took place without pads, and the plays were certainly not run at game speed.


So, please, keep all that in mind. Over the next two days, we’ll check in with all 61 players currently on the 49ers’ roster. (The coaching staff was made off-limits to the media during the two days of practices.)

First, the offense:



5-David Carr: The thing that immediately caught the eye was his throwing motion, which appears unorthodox – similar to a dart-thrower (others say a shot-putter). He looked very rusty on many of his passes, as he learns the system and works on timing with his targets. He badly under-threw a few deep balls. But let’s cut him some slack. He’s learning the system, and the weather for Tuesday’s practice was atrocious. And, after all, last I checked, it was March. The real games don’t begin until September.

7-Nate Davis: He got only a handful of snaps in 11-on-11 sessions. His arm looked strong, but his passes did not come out on target. (Of course, I’m basing that on two 11-on-11 snaps and three snaps of 7-on-7. He has been around the facility every day, working hard to learn the offense, he told me. Later in the offseason he plans to work out in Arizona with Donovan McNabb.

11-Alex Smith: He got most of the snaps, and he looked OK. Of course, he’s much further along in the class room, as he’s already been exposed to the offense for a full year. As the No. 1 QB, he took six of the 11 snaps during 11-on-11 and most of the 7-on-7 passes, too.


Running backs

21-Frank Gore: He says he wouldn’t like sharing the load. And to that, all 49ers fans should rejoice. Show me a running back who doesn’t want to be on the field, and I’ll show you a running back who already has one foot out of the league.

24-Michael Robinson: He did not attend, which seems odd. His future seems secure as the team’s special-teams captain. Yet, his agent did not respond when asked if there was anything that should be known about Robinson’s absence from OTAs.

29-Glen Coffee: His listed weight last season was 209 pounds. He runs big, which the 49ers love, and he’s gaining weight to deliver it with more force. He expects to be 220 pounds. He got a lot of reps, as the 49ers wanted to see some of the young guys. He caught a short dump-off from Carr in 11-on-11, caught a pass from Smith in 7-on-7, and dropped a pass from Carr a short time later.

43-Jehuu Caulcrick: He did not get much action, as the newcomer saw less time than the incumbent fullbacks Moran Norris and Brit Miller. Caulcrick is a guy, at 250 pounds, who is the kind of thumper the 49ers want from their fullback. The evaluation of his game will happen mostly when the pads go on. I didn’t see him catch any passes, but I saw him drop one from Smith during 7-on-7.

44-Moran Norris: The team’s No. 1 fullback caught a swing pass toward the right sideline in 11-on-11 on Tuesday. He’s the style of fullback they want for their power running game, which is why they signed him to a three-year deal at the start of free agency last year.

47-Brit Miller: This is a big offseason for him, as he gets settled in at fullback after signing with the Panthers after the draft last year as linebacker. He caught a pass from Smith in 11-on-11, but let a laser from Davis slip through his hands in 7-on-7.


Wide receivers

15-Michael Crabtree: He caught the first four passes during the Monday session . . . perhaps providing an early clue that he’ll be the team’s go-to receiver. He is working out some wrinkles with Smith after getting precious little time together to practice a year ago. On one 7-on-7 play, Crabtree settled to the inside on a route, while Smith threw it to the outside. Those are the kinds of “miscommunication” that can get ironed out, as quarterback and receiver get an understanding of what each other is seeing on those option routes.

17-Dominique Zeigler: He’s been around for a while and he knows how WRs coach Jerry Sullivan wants certain routes executed. On 7-on-7, he made a nice catch of a Smith pass between linebacker Matt Wilhelm and cornerback safety Curtis Taylor.

81-Brandon Jones: He showed up with a couple catches in Monday’s practice. On Tuesday, he caught a 7-on-7 pass Smith, but was also the intended target of three other passes, including a tough chance from Smith on a ball thrown behind him.

84-Josh Morgan: While everyone is talking about Crabtree, the team seems very excited about Morgan, who continues to work and get better. He caught the first 11-on-11 passes from Smith and Carr. He came back to make a catch from Carr on an underthrown deep ball in 7-on-7.

88-Isaac Bruce: Did not attend. Yes, he remains under contract to the 49ers in 2010. He has yet to make his retirement official. But, clearly, he won’t be back with the 49ers after he tumbled off the bottom of the 49ers’ depth chart late in the season. If he were to want to continue his career, the 49ers would release him.

89-Jason Hill: He made the nicest catch I saw during the two days when he jumped high to haul down a pass from Smith about 20 yards down the field. Hill made the grab as he maintained his concentration as Dashon Goldson flashed across his face and narrowly missed getting a hand on the ball. He pulled up after an awkward adjustment on a Smith deep pass toward the end of practice. It didn’t appear to be anything serious.


Tight ends

46-Delanie Walker: The backup didn’t see a lot of action come his way during the team’s pass-oriented work. He’s a pretty polished receiver but needs to work more on his blocking to be able to take over for Vernon Davis, if needed.

48-Tony Curtis: The newly acquired player was fourth on the team’s depth chart during the on-field work. He must earn his roster spot in training camp with his blocking when the pads go on.

49-Joe Jon Finley: The club believes there’s enough there to give him a third camp to prove his worth. He won a spot on the practice squad over draft pick Bear Pascoe, which shows TEs coach Pete Hoener believes Finley has something to offer.

85-Vernon Davis: He came to town to take part in the two days of practices. Davis plans to do most of his conditioning and offseason work on his own in Maryland and Miami, he said. It’s been a busy offseason for Davis, which included a trip to the Olympics as an honorary captain for the U.S. curling team, as well as a trip to visit the troops in Afghanistan.


Offensive line

59-Cody Wallace: The focus of these two days was for new O-line coach Mike Solari, and his trusted assistant Ray Brown, to get an up-close look at the starters. Wallace got limited reps as the backup center. Wallace must show more versatility to prove he can back up at both guard spots, too. Otherwise, there’s no use a backup lineman who can only play center.

60-Brian de la Puente: He’s back with the 49ers after originally signing with the club as an undrafted free agent a couple years ago. I did not see him get any action during the 11-on-11 session.

61-Chris Patrick: He lined up as the backup right guard, behind Chilo Rachal, where he got limited action during the 11-on-11 work.

62-Chilo Rachal: The starting right guard saw the bulk of the action during team work. As noted earlier, it’s very difficult to provide much analysis in non-padded work that focused on passing.

64-David Baas: It was very wise of him to sign a waiver and participate in the 49ers’ offseason program. He has not signed his tender as a restricted free agent. He can still negotiate with other teams. But Baas is clearly competing for a job – especially if the veteran Chester Pitts signs with the 49ers. (Right now, the focus for Pitts is on passing his physical after undergoing major knee surgery last season.)

65-Barry Sims: He recently re-signed with the 49ers to be the team’s swing tackle. He lined up at left tackle behind starter Joe Staley.

66-Eric Heitmann: He took the bulk of the snaps at center. He has been the team’s most consistent lineman for several years, but he’s getting up there in age. Heitmann is set to enter his ninth NFL season.

68-Adam Snyder: He lined up at right tackle. That’s the position the 49ers plan to address in the draft. Snyder’s versatility gives the 49ers a lot of options. He can be a swing tackle or guard, as he’s started games at every offensive line position with the exception of center.

69-Tony Wragge: He lined up at left guard behind Baas. Wragge got limited reps. His value to the team is his ability to play both guard spots, as well as center.

74-Joe Staley: His vision is now 20/15 after undergoing lasik surgery last week. The 49ers have the option of moving Staley to the right side if they draft a player the coaching staff believes is better-suited to play left tackle. The 49ers have not had that conversation with Staley. He said he is preparing solely to be the team’s left tackle in 2010.

75-Alex Boone: He looks so much better than a year ago. His hard work to get his body in shape is quite evident. A left tackle at Ohio State, he is working solely at right tackle with the 49ers. “I just don’t like not playing,” Boone said. “I’m here to hopefully make a difference this year.” During camp last year, he looked clumsy with his footwork in pass protection. “I just wasn’t in shape,” he said. “I didn’t feel right out there. And I wasn’t prepared. I thought, ‘I can’t do this to myself again.’ So I went home and I trained and stayed focus. That’s why I feel a lot more comfortable out there now.” Of course, the 49ers are not relying on Boone to take over as the starter. But if his reshaped body translates into vastly improved play, he has an opportunity to create better depth and more options for the team.


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Tomorrow, we’ll look at the 49ers’ defense.


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