Minicamp review

Here’s my minicamp review. Keep in mind, it was a non-contact minicamp. No pads, no tackling. It was basically two-hand touch. So I’m focusing on the players involved in the passing game – quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, cornerbacks and safeties.

BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYERS

  1. Vernon Davis: He got open almost every time in one-on-one drills. He caught a few touchdowns every scrimmage. After he scored I often heard defenders say things like, “Great catch,” or “That man is fast!” Davis is the hardest worker on the offense during practice.  He never takes a break. If the No. 1 offense isn’t on the field, he gets TE Coach Reggie Davis to throw passes to him on sideline. Davis used to be the only Niner who did this. Now Crabtree joins him.
  2. Michael Crabtree: He was one of the best and most competitive Niners in minicamp. He was certainly the best wide receiver. Crabtree won most of his one-on-one matchups. On Thursday he made a strong push for the No. 1 spot on this list, catching a touchdown pass from Alex Smith in a red zone drill. Crabtree seemed extra competitive that day. He wore Vernon Davis’ No. 85 jersey to practice and shadowed the assiduous tight end in warm-ups, literally doing everything Davis did right after Davis did it. At one point Davis looked at me, smiled, pointed to Crabtree asked, “What’s he doing?” Shortly after, Greg Roman jogged over to Crabtree and said, “Hey, Vern! Good to see you. Ready for some blocking drills?”
  3. Alex Smith: He looked like he had been running Jim Harbaugh’s offense his whole life. Every time he dropped back, he threw the ball quickly, confidently, and for the most part accurately. He didn’t throw many deep passes, but he did start completing some red zone throws into tight windows on Wednesday and Thursday.

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYERS

  1. Chris Culliver: With Carlos Rogers nursing a calf injury and getting limited practice time, Culliver got most of the reps at left cornerback, and he was near-dominant. Sometimes he’d give the wide receiver too big of a cushion and give up a short completion, but I didn’t see him get beaten for any big gains. The quarterbacks rarely even tested him.
  2. Tarell Brown: He got tested more than Culliver did, but Brown was just as dominant. He shut down A.J. Jenkins on a deep route and caught a few interceptions on short passes.
  3. Perrish Cox: He played with the first team defense at nickel cornerback, the corner who covers the slot receiver, the corner with arguably the toughest job, and he played well. He gives the Niners a second corner who can cover the slot if Carlos Rogers misses any time next season.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

  • Kyle Williams: He looked bigger and stronger than he did last season, and he made one of the best catches in minicamp – a leaping fingertip grab on a pass way over his head. As far as I could tell, he was the third best wide receiver behind Crabtree and Moss. Williams seemed to catch many more passes than Mario Manningham did.

BIGGEST LETDOWN

  • A.J. Jenkins: The Niners first round pick looked like one of the worst wide receivers on the field most of minicamp. He didn’t play with the first- or second-team offense on Tuesday, and he didn’t catch a pass in scrimmages on Wednesday. He had trouble staying on his feet all three days, which was odd considering it was a non-contact minicamp. Overall, undrafted receivers Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms caught many more passes and made more impressive plays than Jenkins did. There’s no rush for Jenkins to produce, though, because there seem to be at least four good wide receivers above him on the depth chart right now – Crabtree, Moss, Manningham and Williams.
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