Singletary pleased with week’s work

Coach Mike Singletary was pleased with the final three practices of the week, he said, because the 49ers took the opportunity to get better every day. Today was the 49ers’ seventh consecutive day of practices.

He would be referring to improvements in the practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and today. He was clearly not happy with the sharpness of practice on Monday. That’s the day he stopped practice for some conditioning/discipline. Singletary said the action served its purpose for the remainder of the week, as the level of play picked up.

 

“The most important thing for myself and the guys is we’re going to come out here and get better,” Singletary said. “Every time we’re not getting better, we have to take a step back and look at what we’re doing and redirect some things and rethink some things.”

 

Yes, the 49ers do look better in practice, and a lot of that probably is because the quarterback play looks better.

 

Today, Alex Smith and Shaun Hill both threw the ball very well. Hill had a very good day. He routinely put the ball on the money. In the past week, Smith has looked as good on the practice field as he has at any point in his career.

 

“When you look out here at times it looks as if he does,” Singletary said of Smith, “but at the same time, nothing means anything until he’s out there facing some live bullets. All of a sudden, all form and technique goes when you got guys coming at you.”‘

 

Singletary said he needs to see Smith carry over his practice-field success to the exhibition season. The 49ers’ first exhibition game is Friday, Aug. 14, against the Broncos.

 

The 49ers conclude OTAs on Monday and Tuesday. The 49ers are scheduled to open training camp Thursday, July 30.

 

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Veteran quarterback Damon Huard is not getting many practice reps, but he is used to that. He said he got zero practice snaps with the Chiefs during minicamps and the OTAs last year, but he found himself in the starting lineup in Week 2 of the regular season.

 

Huard, a 13-year veteran, does not require a bunch of practice time. He said Jimmy Raye’s offensive system is similar to the offense he ran four of the past five seasons with the Chiefs. Although Huard turns 36 in July, he has just 30 NFL starts. He said he has a lot of mileage but still has a lot of tread on the tires.

 

One 49ers source raved at how well Huard is throwing the ball during individual work. Although Hill and Smith are competing for the starting job and rookie Nate Davis is being groomed behind him, Huard appears to have a pretty strong hold on a roster spot at this stage. 

 

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The 49ers will probably have head up to Napa to practice against the Raiders again this summer, Singletary said. He said the sides are “pretty close” to finalizing an agreement. Such a joint practice would probably take part in the week leading up to the team’s Aug. 22 game.

 

“I’m very excited about the opportunity because they have a tremendous amount of talent on that team, so I think if it comes to pass it’ll be a great opportunity for us,” Singletary said of the Raiders.

 

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I sat down with 49ers quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson for the first time Wednesday. He did not coach in the league last season. New Baltimore coach John Harbaugh decided he would not retain Johnson in March 2008, leaving Johnson little time to find another NFL job.

 

So Johnson took the opportunity to finish class work to earn his communications/broadcast management degree from the University of Akron.

 

He also spent some time with coaching staffs at Illinois and Ohio State. He chose Illinois because he wanted to learn more about the spread offense. That program has done a good job of running the football out of the spread formation, he said.

 

Johnson, 42, is an impressive guy. In fact, Singletary said today all it took was 15 minutes with him during the interview process before he decided he was going to hire him. “I knew from that moment that when you have passion for a position and at the same time you have knowledge of a position, something great is going to happen,” Singletary said.

 

Unfortunately, Johnson is prohibited by the team to share his thoughts about Shaun Hill and Alex Smith. The 49ers’ new media policy – at least for now – is that position coaches can only be interviewed for profile articles. He was stopped once he started talking about the team’s current quarterbacks. My feature on Johnson will probably run early in training camp.

 

Today I asked Singletary what Johnson thinks of how the fundamentals of the QBs are coming along just fine. Hill’s fundamentals were clearly more advanced than Smith’s when the offseason began.

 

“Day to day it’s getting better,” Singletary said. “From the very first day we come out here and you sit back in a chair and go, ‘Wow, got to work on this, got to work on that with Alex; got to work on this, got to work on this with Shaun.’ We’re going to continue to move forward. I talk to him just about every day. . . . It continues to get better.”

 

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It was a rough day at practice for Vernon Davis, who dropped three passes. But he also had a lot of passes thrown his way. He caught at least four passes during the 11-on-11 session.

 

The play of the day came from another tight end, rookie Bear Pascoe. Alex Smith lofted a 20-yard pass to Pascoe down the middle. Linebacker Jeff Ulbrich had good coverage, but Pascoe went up and tore the ball away from Ulbrich, who reacted by sprawling out face first on the turf. Pascoe continued down the field with the ball. But on his way back to the huddle, Pascoe, like a gentleman, helped Ulbrich off the ground.

 

Meanwhile, Tarell Brown wasn’t exactly acting gentlemanly when he got in the face of receiver Maurice Price to taunt him after Price dropped an easy pass from Smith on a crossing route.

 

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Receiver Michael Crabtree continues to ease into his rehab under the watchful eye of the team’s training staff. Singletary said Crabtree is competitive and eager to get back to full work. He said Crabtree “about had tears in his eyes” during the team’s first minicamp when Singletary told him to stop running routes. He said Crabtree must remain on the plan so that he’s ready to hit the practice field to begin competing for a job when training camp opens. Crabtree underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot in March.

 

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