Training camp report: Tuesday, the not-so-good — LaMichael James misses practice

SANTA CLARA – Rookie running back LaMichael James did not practice on Tuesday. This was the first practice he’s missed in training camp, and it is not known why he missed it. Backup quarterback Josh Johnson struggled today. He played with the second team offense and mostly faced the first team defense. His passes sailed high, he threw a lot of incompletions and two interceptions – one to Carlos Rogers…

August 7, 2012

Harbaugh: “Kendall Hunter is having an exceptional training camp.”

SANTA CLARA – On Monday, Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent and discussed the current quarterback depth chart, Michael Crabtree’s injury status and why Kendall Hunter is having a great training camp. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers. Opening Statement: “Hello. I want to send our condolences to the Reid family on their loss. We’re saddened with grief for them. Our prayers are with them and Garrett, at…

August 6, 2012

Battle for backup QB

We all know Alex Smith is the 49ers’ starting quarterback, but there’s competition for the backup job and Josh Johnson may have pulled into the lead this week. Until the past few practices, Johnson appeared to be in last place, behind Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien. Johnson was holding onto the ball longer than the other quarterbacks and taking more sacks. On the other hand, he’s taken a lot of…

August 5, 2012

Training camp report: Thursday, the not-so-good — four QBs, a CB and a WR

SANTA CLARA – All four of the Niners quarterbacks struggled in practice today. Alex Smith threw three interceptions – one to Bowman, one to free safety Darcel McBath and one to reserve linebacker Mike Wilhoite. McBath’s interception came after a Mario Manningham tip in the middle of the field, but the other two picks were in the end zone. The entire offense was working on red zone efficiency, so Smith…

August 2, 2012

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

Josh Johnson explains why he likes Harbaugh’s coaching style

SANTA CLARA – The Niners newest quarterback, Josh Johnson, spoke today about his comfort level in the offense, his history with Colin Kaepernick, and why he likes Jim Harbaugh’s coaching style so much. Here’s a transcript. Q: How has it been going for you getting into the playbook? JOSH JOHNSON: It’s been going great. I’ve been fortunate for the last few years to play for a variety of different offensive…

July 25, 2012

Colin Kaepernick says he has “that option bond” with LaMichael James

SANTA CLARA – 2011 second round pick Colin Kaepernick briefly spoke outside the Niners locker room this afternoon. He discussed the part of his game he wants to improve the most, his relationship with Josh Johnson – his main rival for the backup quarterback job –and his budding friendship with this year’s second round pick, LaMichael James. Here’s a transcript. Q: What are you accomplishing these first few days of…

July 24, 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

Harbaugh praises Vernon Davis, Tukuafu, Cox and more

SANTA CLARA – Below is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Tuesday post-practice interview, courtesy of the 49ers. Here are Harbaugh’s main points: Will Tukuafu is playing defensive tackle and full back in practice, like Isaac Sopoaga did last season. Vernon Davis has improved his route running and he’s having an excellent offseason. Rookie defensive end Cam Johnson did not attend practice due a minor procedure but he should be ready…

June 5, 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

Five ways the Niners offense should improve next season

I’m waiting to hear from the Niners about media availability this week, but as a prelude to that here’s something for you to think about. We don’t know if the offense will be better this year, but let’s assume it is indeed better. How will it be better? Here are five ways. 1. The Niners got fast receivers who can beat single coverage – Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. At…

May 14, 2012

Moss steals the show

SANTA CLARA – The Niners called today’s practice a Veteran Football School On-field session. Most of the veterans showed up. Frank Gore didn’t, and neither did Mario Manningham or Brandon Jacobs, but that’s OK because VFS is voluntary. But Alex Smith showed up. He stretched with the offensive lineman and chatted with Alex Boone, one of his good friends on the team. Michael Crabtree showed up, too. He stretched next…

May 10, 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

Who is Harbaugh’s Joe Montana?

If Alex Smith is Jim Harbaugh’s Steve Deberg, then who is his Joe Montana – Colin Kaepernick or Josh Johnson? I have an opinion, but before I give it I’ll make a case for both guys, as our friendly commenter DS94everXev suggested I do. That way, the Kaeper-nicks and Johnsonites feel I’m being fair. THE CASE FOR KAEPERNICK: The Niners traded up in the second round to draft Kaepernick. Johnson…

March 31, 2012

Josh Johnson explains why he’ll do better with the Niners than he did with the Bucs, plus more

Here’s the transcript of Josh Johnson’s first conference call as a 49er. Enjoy. Q: What was told to you about what you will be allowed to compete for here at the 49ers? JOHNSON: We didn’t actually get into the specifics. It wasn’t really that necessary. At quarterback, there’s only one guy out there at a time. It’s really just about getting reps. I was told that I would get reps…

March 23, 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