Good day for quarterbacks

SANTA CLARA –

Jim Harbaugh called today’s practice the “best practice of training camp so far.”

Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick both threw two touchdowns and just one poor pass apiece. On the poor ones, Smith had a ball tipped at the line of scrimmage that was almost intercepted, and Kaepernick didn’t lead Ronald Johnson enough on a crossing route, so cornerback Cory Nelms almost caught the ball instead. Other than those two throws, Smith and Kaepernick looked sharper than ever.

On Smith’s best throw, he felt heavy pressure in the pocket and rolled out right. He kept his eyes downfield and hit Ted Ginn Jr. in the back of the end zone. Ginn made a beautiful leaping catch. The pass was easily 20 yards, maybe more. One fan near me was incredulous. “That’s not Alex Smith,” he yelled. It most certainly was.

Kaepernick’s two touchdowns came on back-to-back plays in the red zone, and they were both short passes to Delanie Walker.

But Kaepernick’s best moment wasn’t a pass. On the first play of his 2-minute drill, he lined up under center and faked a handoff to Anthony Dixon. Everyone bit on the fake, and Kaepernick ran a naked bootleg 45 yards into the end zone.

Play-action rollouts were a theme of the day.

Harbaugh started 11-on-11s calling a series of misdirection plays. On the first play, Alex Smith lined up in the shotgun next to Frank Gore. Smith faked the handoff and ran a designed quarterback-sweep to the right.

The next play Smith handed the ball to Gore from the same formation, but ran a fake option play to the left with the tight end to confuse the defense.

Four plays after that, Smith ran a real option play with Frank Gore, pitching him the ball at the last second near the left-sideline.

This is the type of college-football trickery we may see from the Niners this year.

Now, on to the rest of the team.

THE GOOD

  • Braylon Edwards. Caught a five-yard fade in the end-zone from Alex Smith and made it look easy. The 49ers haven’t had a wide receiver they could throw the ball up to in goal line situations, and now they do.
  • Carlos Rogers. Didn’t allow any completions in one-on-one drills, and no quarterback threw his way during scrimmages.
  • Chris Culliver. The second best cornerback behind Rogers in the one-on-ones. He’s big and fast and improving.
  • Ahmad Brooks. Got some practice reps for the first time in a few days, and got a sack around the left edge. Brooks looks much more comfortable rushing around the edge than Aldon Smith, who often gets pushed out of the play unless he cuts back to the inside.

THE BAD

  • Anthony Davis. Got beat by Brooks for a sack. Davis didn’t appear to get a hand on him, either.
  • Phillip Adams. Got beat almost every time in one-on-ones. He’s coming back from a broken ankle and he doesn’t look to be on the same level as the other cornerbacks just yet.

THE REST

  • Taylor Mays lined up next to C.J. Spillman on the second-team defense.
  • Donte Whitner and Madieu Williams were the first-team safeties, and Whitner stood out, almost making a diving interception.
  • Neither Shawntae Spencer nor Isaac Sopoaga practiced today, but I saw them throwing a medicine ball back and forth around 3:30 p.m. Whatever they’re “working through” should be minor.
  • Dashon Goldson may or may not practice tomorrow. When asked about it, Harbaugh said, “We’ll see.”

 

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