Top five performers: Week One

Here are the top five performers in training camp at the end of Week One.

  1. Justin Smith – The defense has dominated the offense for most of training camp, and Justin Smith is a big reason why. He’s almost too good. Sometimes when the offense is really struggling, I wonder if they’d look better if only they didn’t have to practice against Justin Smith. Sometimes Jim Harbaugh makes the second-team offense face the first-team defense, and this is what usually happens: Offensive linemen fly and Justin Smith sacks the quarterback, actually tags him.
  2. NaVarro Bowman – He’s ahead of Patrick Willis so far because he’s made more spectacular plays. He made the best interception of training camp a few days ago in a red-zone drill when he snatched away a touchdown catch from Vernon Davis.
  3. Patrick Willis – He’s hasn’t jumped out like Bowman, but there’s a reason. Willis has been covering Vernon Davis, and mostly shutting him down. Willis stripped him a few days ago, and he’s limited Davis to just a few receptions the last couple practices.
  4. Aldon Smith – The defense looks better than last season, and that’s mostly because of Aldon Smith. He plays every snap now – not just passing downs – and he’s getting about two sacks per practice. He’s getting sacks on first and second down. It seems like the offense is always facing third and long.
  5. Chris Culliver – He intercepts about one pass per practice, and he’s the only cornerback on the team who has consistently shut down Randy Moss. Yesterday, Moss beat Carlos Rogers for a touchdown in the red zone, and he beat Tarell Brown deep in a one-on-one drill, but Moss hasn’t beaten Culliver for any big plays. On Friday, Alex Smith tried to throw a jump ball to Randy Moss in the back right corner of the end zone, but Culliver out-jumped the 6-4 wide receiver and batted the pass away.
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