Singletary spins the hits

After hitting them with a little 1970s soul Wednesday afternoon, coach Mike Singletary went backwards this afternoon and unleashed some Motown on his offense, turning the music up to 11 to (sort of) simulate the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

More specifically, Coach Sing went Temptations as the team practiced short yardage and goal line. Singletary is a master motivator, always thinking of ways to tweak his troops. So I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if his song selection carried some subliminal messages.

For example…

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: dedicated to Kentwan Balmer
Can’t Get Next to You: a message to the DBs trying to cover WR Dominique Zeigler these days
Cloud 9: K Shane Andrus should be happy just to be here
Ball of Confusion: a reminder of Monday’s morning practice

Other notes and observations from the p.m. …

• Balmer, for whom the 49ers have gained a roster exemption, was not on the field.

• His immediate replacement, DT Will Tukuafu, was on the field wearing No. 63. Tukuafu is an undrafted rookie from Oregon. The Seahawks originally signed him right after the draft but released him June 22.

• The injured included WR Michael Crabtree (neck), OLB Travis LaBoy (concussion) and WR Brandon Jones (hamstring). Jones looks to be nearing full speed. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him in action next week. FB Brit Miller brought his helmet to the field, but couldn’t convince the trainers to set him loose. Meanwhile, “veteran courtesy” extended to ILBs Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes, DE Justin Smith, S Michael Lewis and T Barry Sims.

• The 49ers began the practice with kickoffs, focusing on squibs. On one kick, Shane Andrus thumped NaVorro Bowman – who was in the middle of the kick-coverage line – in the back. “Watch the ball!” half the team yelled. A few added the epithet “rookie.” Moments later, Andrus picked off Mike Balogun.

• TE Joe Jon Finley limped out of a 7-on-7 drill, but it didn’t appear serious.

• Like death and taxes: Zeigler had a nice catch, sliding in front of CB Shawntae Spencer, and C David Baas misfired on a shotgun snap, sending it midway between QB Alex Smith and RB Frank Gore. Baas and Smith also had a bad exchange at the line.

• Player of the afternoon may have been CB Will James, who is really coming on. He broke up passes from David Carr to RB Michael Robinson, from Nate Davis to Jason Hill, and from Smith to Zeigler. He plays very physically.

• Other DBs got into the act, too. CB Nate Clements slapped away Smith’s pass to WR Josh Morgan, and Spencer broke up Carr-to-Hill.

• Robinson got some carries in goal line. He has been the forgotten man in the backfield, though of course he remains a core special-teams player.

• Has the offense picked up one of those corner blitzes off the left edge of the defense in all of training camp? Tarell Brown got Smith again. I can now spell “unabated.”

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