Notes and observations from today’s voluntary practice in Santa Clara…
• NT Aubrayo Franklin, OLB Manny Lawson, and CBs Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements continue to skip the voluntary OTAs. TE Vernon Davis and RB Michael Robinson were absent today, too. DL Kentwan Balmer took part in individual drills for the first time this offseason, while WR Brandon Jones (ankle), CB Will James (pelvic bone) and T Matt Kopa (foot) continue to rehab. Rookie RB Anthony Dixon did individual work but no team period. And the big news: LB Patrick Willis was back in team sessions for the first time this offseason.
Jones is wearing a boot on his left foot, and he entered the locker room on crutches, but the wide receiver is in good spirits and confirmed that his ankle injury is just a sprain. While he wouldn’t offer a timetable, Jones said “it’ll be short.” He hurt himself blocking when he was pushed into a pile.
• Dixon signed a four-year contract today. He joined CB Phillip Adams and WR Kyle Williams as rookies in the fold.
• Inconsistent work in the secondary today. Alex Smith and Nate Davis both had to pull the ball down and either throw away or scramble because of tight coverage. On the other hand, WR Jason Hill and TE Nate Byham wound up wide open on separate plays.
• Safeties Michael Lewis and Taylor Mays each blitzed off the edge during practice; Smith beat the first and Davis the second, both with little dump-offs.
• Nice plays by TE Delanie Walker (fingertip catch out in front of Mike Balogun on post route); CB Karl Paymah (tipped Smith’s pass, allowing Lewis an easy interception); Kyle Williams (consecutive catches from Davis, the second one a deep route over CB Tramaine Brock in 7-on-7); LB Ahmad Brooks (hurried Smith into a throwaway); LBs Diyral Briggs and Parys Haralson (good position to seal outside running plays); LB Scott McKillop (tipped away a medium-deep pass from Smith to FB Jehuu Caulcrick); and TE Joe Jon Finley (caught a pass from Davis as LB Navorro Bowman literally pulled at his jersey).
• FB Moran Norris and TE Tony Curtis dropped passes.
• Nate Davis dropped a snap from Brian de la Puente.
• Additional OTAs Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a three-day minicamp.
• While the 49ers practiced special teams, coach Mike Singletary lay on his back with his legs pumping in a bicycle motion. He looked like an expiring insect.