It was just one day of practice, and some of it didn’t even occur during 11-on-11 team periods. But the ball was flying here Tuesday morning, with the 49ers’ offense connecting on numerous deep passes.
Josh Morgan reeled in two long gainers from Alex Smith in the first passing drill of the day, which had receivers going against cornerbacks one-on-one; Michael Crabtree got one, too (from David Carr), as did Jason Hill (from the little-seen Jarrett Brown). And Hill was open for another but couldn’t quite reel in Nate Davis’ throw.
The bombs were a little harder to ignite in 11-on-11 team period, but speedster Ted Ginn wound up behind rookie safety Taylor Mays and caught another rainbow from Smith, and a few minutes later grabbed another against cornerback Will James. Tight end Vernon Davis chipped in with a deep one of his own.
Granted, it’s easier to time up a fly route when you’re not facing a pass rush. And a couple of those scoring passes in team period may actually have been sacks. Still, it was refreshing to see that the 49ers can, at times, chuck it long. This team averaged just 10.6 yards per completion in 2009.
This was just the sort of downfield action the 49ers envisioned when they drafted speedy receiver Kyle Williams out of Arizona State and, especially, when they sent a fifth-round pick to Miami to get Ginn, an inconsistent pass-catcher who happens to be one of the NFL’s fastest players.
“I think the threat of that, the perception of that, is maybe even greater than the actual occurrence of that,” offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said of Ginn’s ability to stretch a defense. “His presence on the field demands that you have to make a decision about how many you want to commit to the run, from a coverage standpoint.”
Ginn was happy to run some sprints in the open field, but wasn’t making too much of Tuesday’s aerial show.
“You always want to go out and hit your shots,” he said. “Our goal here is when you get an opportunity to make big plays, let’s make ’em. The only way you can really focus on that is if you get it done through practice. We went out today, had a great day, threw some great passes. But we’re not there yet.”