Training camp report: Monday, the not-so-good – third-down offense

SANTA CLARA – The past few practices, the 49ers’ offense has focused primarily on the red zone. Today, they did a “four-minute drill” where they worked on sustaining drives. In this drill the offense has the lead and they’re trying to run out the clock and end the game.

The first team offense went three and out the first time they faced the first-team defense. Patrick Willis knocked away a short Alex Smith pass intended for Frank Gore on first down, the defense shut down Frank Gore up the middle on second down and then on third-and-10, Alex Smith checked down to Gore, who picked up only 5 yards.

The second time the first-team offense faced the first-team defense in the four-minute drill, Alex Smith completed a 2-yard pass to Bruce Miller on first down, then Smith scrambled for 4 yards on second down, and then he scrambled for 4 more yards on third down to pick up the first down. On the next play, Gore ran up the middle for no gain and then Smith was sacked on second and third down.

The offense knows their weaknesses – third down and the red zone – and they’re working every day to develop those areas, but up to this point they haven’t shown much improvement.

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