Training camp report: Vernon Davis runs great routes, Crabtree injures ankle

SANTA CLARA – The Niners first practice of the 2012 training camp was padless – full contact doesn’t start until Sunday. Keeping that in mind, here are my impressions from Friday. THE GOOD TE Vernon Davis – Twice the coaching staff raved about the routes Davis ran. Last year, Harbaugh mentioned he wanted Davis to improve his route running, to make his movements more precise. Today, Davis was the most…

July 27, 2012

Scott Tolzien on opportunities and maximizing each day

SANTA CLARA – Backup quarterback Scott Tolzien has one of the widest perspectives of any player on the 49ers. He’s terrific at putting things in perspective for you and me. This afternoon he broke down the collective mindset of the team and his individual mindset as an aspiring quarterback heading into training camp. Here’s a transcript. Q: How does your second training camp feel different than your first? TOLZIEN: Last…

July 23, 2012

Harbaugh takes stock after the Niners minicamp

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh spoke to reporters after Thursday’s practice. He was thrilled with how his team performed in this minicamp, and he detailed what he liked so much. Here’s the transcript of his interview, courtesy of the 49ers.   Opening Statement: “Very excited. That was an A++ practice today, and that goes for the whole Mini-Camp. It was outstanding by our guys. Tremendous effort, and really over the…

June 14, 2012

Minicamp notes: Alex Smith shines in Wednesday’s afternoon practice

SANTA CLARA – Here are some unofficial stats from today’s minicamp. Alex Smith completed 27 of 32 passes. In red zone drills he completed two touchdowns. For about an hour he didn’t miss a single pass. Most of his throws were short and intermediate ones to open receivers. Smith is clearly the most confident Niners QB when it comes to making decisions in the pocket. He was throwing the ball…

June 13, 2012

Minicamp notes: Breaking down Alex Smith’s third down and red zone performance from Tuesday

SANTA CLARA – Alex Smith threw two touchdowns and converted one third down in Tuesday’s afternoon practice. He threw his first touchdown to Vernon Davis. The offense lined up in the red zone, Davis ran toward the end zone and Smith threw the ball high over Davis’ back shoulder. Davis leaped in the air, caught the pass and landed on his back. It was the catch Wes Welker couldn’t make…

June 12, 2012

Scott Tolzien on himself, his competition and Aldon Smith

SANTA CLARA – After practice, three of the 49ers quarterbacks – Alex Smith, Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien – had a long discussion in the weight-lifting tent adjacent to the practice field as they did bicep curls. Occasionally Smith would set down his weights, face the other quarterbacks and elucidate a point with his hands – pantomiming what looked like routes. When Smith did this, Tolzien and Johnson sat, listened…

June 6, 2012

OTA notes: Moss makes remarkable one-handed catch

SANTA CLARA – This is the last week of OTAs for the Niners, and today was the one practice open to the media. It started like all their other practices – drills first, then scrimmaging, but one thing was different. Alex Smith flat out dominated the quarterback drills. Nearly every warm up pass to every uncovered receiver was perfect. Last year during training camp he’d miss a few passes as…

June 5, 2012

The 49ers top-10 offseason battles

With rookie mini camps around the corner and OTAs around the bend too, let’s rank the Niners top-10 offseason battles in reverse order. 10. Michael Crabtree vs. his left foot. Will Crabtree win the battle against his left foot this offseason? He’s 1-2 in his professional career when he’s faced the foot in the summer. It beat him in ’09 when it sustained a stress fracture and held him out…

May 4, 2012

Grading the 49ers: Quarterbacks

Before: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien. Grade: C+ Why: The Niners rolled the dice with two rookie backups last season – Kaepernick and Tolzien – who probably couldn’t have led last year’s team to the playoffs. So the Niners lucked out Alex Smith played all 18 games, even though he was inept on third down and in the red zone. Despite those iniquities, he still helped the team…

April 29, 2012

Niners sign QB Josh Johnson to 2-year deal, turn up the heat on Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick

The Niners just announced they signed free agent quarterback Josh Johnson to a two-year contract. What does this mean? Jim Harbaugh is going to say it’s all about competition. But what this really means is the Niners think they can do better at quarterback. They’re not satisfied with the production they got from the position last season, and they’re not satisfied with their current trio – Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick…

March 22, 2012

Alex Smith and 49ers at stalemate

Look, I’m on the outside, but I can’t help but notice that Mark Sanchez just got a five-year contract extension from the Jets, $24 million guaranteed. Alex Smith is a better quarterback than Sanchez. It would be embarrassing for Smith and his agent to accept a three-year deal with less than $20 million guaranteed. The best move for them is to find out if a team like the Seahawks or…

March 10, 2012

Scott Tolzien breaks down fellow Wisconsin Badgers Peter Konz and Nick Toon

SANTA CLARA – Right guard and wide receiver are two of the Niners biggest needs. They will most likely draft towards the end of the first round in April, and the University of Wisconsin has a pair of late-first-round prospects Trent Baalke and the Niners might covet – interior offensive lineman Peter Konz (6’5” 315 lbs.) and wide out Nick Toon (6’3” 220 lbs.). I asked former Wisconsin Badger Scott…

November 30, 2011

The lowdown on the 49ers quarterback meetings

Here for your pleasure and enlightenment, and because it’s a Bye Week and nothing’s going on, I wrote a piece about what happens in quarterback meetings, focusing on 49ers quarterback meetings. The article follows. SANTA CLARA — What happens in an NFL quarterback meeting? And specifically, what happens in a 49ers quarterback meeting? You’ve probably wondered about all that. A quarterback meeting is something you never can attend, a place…

October 19, 2011

Grant’s top-three favorite 49ers

I’ve been asking myself, “Who is my favorite 49ers player?” I’m not asking who is the best player. Just my favorite player. Here’s what I came up with. My Number One favorite player on the 49ers is Anthony Dixon. I find the guy to be a scream, and I’m always gravitating towards him in the locker room to listen to him talk about anything. My second favorite player is Scott…

October 15, 2011

Scott Tolzien talks

SANTA CLARA – The Niners current third-string quarterback, undrafted rookie Scott Tolzien, spoke at his locker this morning. Here’s the transcript of the interview. Q: Has it been a hectic last few days? TOLZIEN: Seriously. It’s crazy, I’m on a plane ride over and I’m thinking, shoot, we’ve got a game this weekend and I don’t even know who we’re playing. There first thing I asked when I got here…

September 6, 2011