What, there was football today? The 49ers have gone so tabloid this week that it’s easy to overlook that they’re preparing for an actual game this Sunday.
Another factor that made this morning’s practice so forgettable: It was a snoozer. Coach Mike Singletary first combined what had been scheduled for two separate practices into one, then wound up cutting the lump sum from 3½ hours to 2½ hours. That’s all fine. But after two team periods and a mix of 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 blocking, the 49ers began running everything at three-quarters speed. Super Bowl XXIII it was not.
The good news? Some crisp quarterback play before things slowed down.
Alex Smith took some lumps in the media – including this medium – over the past week, but looked fine today. He passed 11 times during team and 7-on-7, and had only one clunker, throwing behind WR Dominique Zeigler on an out pattern and allowing CB Nate Clements to break it up. Smith’s best throw was a deeper out to TE Delanie Walker; he had to put the ball a little high to clear the hands of OLB Diyral Briggs and he did just that, allowing Walker to make an athletic tip-and-catch.
After all that, though, third-team QB Nate Davis sort of stole the show. I thought it may have been Davis’ best work of the summer. He beat CB Patrick Stoudamire’s tight coverage with a perfect throw to WR Bakari Grant on a crossing route, and his post to TE Tony Curtis was a thing of beauty.
So there. If all the 49ers don’t pack up and leave by the end of camp, the team may be able to get something going.
Other notes from today’s practice…
• Singletary offered no information on who will or will not play against the Colts, or how long his starters are likely to play. The 49ers are scheduled to leave for Indianapolis at 9:15 a.m. tomorrow.
• Injured linebacker Scott McKillop (torn ACL and patellar tendon) cleared waivers and reverted to the 49ers’ injured reserve.
• Singletary seemed to leave the door open for DE Kentwan Balmer to return to the team, while clearly questioning the player’s motivation: “If Balmer wanted to be back, he’d be back.”
• WR Michael Crabtree (neck), OLB Travis LaBoy (concussion), WR Brandon Jones (hamstring) and CB Phillip Adams (hamstring) all sat out practice. FB Brit Miller returned from his minor ankle injury.
• Clements looks sharp today. He began the first team session by breaking up Smith’s pass to WR Josh Morgan. The QB really had no chance on that one.
• TE Nate Byham dropped two passes. The second, from David Carr, was a little behind him, but the rookie probably would agree he should have had it.