Notes and observations from today’s practice

Notes and observations from today’s voluntary practice in Santa Clara…

• RB Michael Robinson, absent Monday, was back at practice today. TE Vernon Davis remained elsewhere. He tweeted about running “the biggest hill in San Jose” and filming a movie. The other missing 49ers were the same ones we’ve gone without all offseason: NT Aubrayo Franklin, LB Manny Lawson and CBs Shawntae Spencer and Nate Clements.
• WR Brandon Jones (ankle) and T Matt Kopa (foot) did not practice. DL Kentwan Balmer and CB Will James were limited to position drills. After practice, LB Travis LaBoy and FB Brit Miller stretched while their teammates ran.


• The team worked on a lot of third downs with 5 to 7 yards to go. In one of the 11-on-11 team periods, the offense was backed up at its 3-yard line.
• Busy day for WR Josh Morgan. Vernon Davis likes to talk about the 11-to-85 connection, but 11-to-84 was working today. I counted six catches for Morgan in team period, all of them from Alex Smith. A couple of the receptions might have come after two-hand-touch “sacks,” but to me that bodes even better for Morgan. When Smith got in trouble today, he seemed to be looking for the third-year receiver out of Virginia Tech. So maybe Morgan can tell his buddy not to get him killed. During QB/receiver drills, Smith nearly led Morgan into a camera tower with a deep throw down the middle.
• Tough day for rookie T Anthony Davis, who false-started twice.
• At least four snaps wound up on the ground during the course of practice.
• DL Khalif Mitchell swatted two Nate Davis passes at the line of scrimmage. Davis seemed to struggle for much of the morning, though he had back-to-back completions to rookie Bakari Grant at one point. Later, another Davis pass went through Grant’s hands. Smith and David Carr were mostly on target. Smith’s best throw may have been a strike to Dominique Zeigler that beat Karl Paymah on a slant. His worst was a 45-yard deep ball to Ted Ginn that floated in the air until S Dashon Goldson tipped it and intercepted.
• With the defense in nickel and dime subpackages, LB Patrick Willis saw more reps than he did Monday, when he made his 2010 debut in team drills. He broke up one pass from Alex Smith today. Willis said he felt fine afterward.
• Nice plays by Paymah (knocked away Smith’s pass to Ginn), LB Ahmad Brooks (pressured Smith into scrambling from end zone), S Taylor Mays (good coverage on Carr’s incomplete pass to TE Joe Jon Finley), DE Justin Smith (all over Smith after play-action) and CB Tramaine Brock (great reaction on a hitch throw from Carr to Ginn).
• Secondary coach Johnnie Lynn was all over S Curtis Taylor at one point for lining up in the wrong place. Later in practice, though, Lynn praised Taylor’s presnap coverage call.
• Equal-opportunity flubs by the punt returners: Kyle Williams was eaten up by the first punt of the day. Ginn let one bounce three times and was lectured by a coach. LeRoy Vann muffed one of his own.
• TE Tony Curtis dropped a short pass from Smith.
• Mays continues to blitz with some regularity.
• Watching from the sidelines: Bob Lamont, Mike Singletary’s agent.

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