49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

June 12, 2007
OTA observations

Sloppy Tuesday at 49ers headquarters.

A botched snap here. A false start there. A receiver slipping. An overthrown pass. It happened so many times Tuesday that Mike Nolan stopped practice and gathered the team at midfield - almost to jar the 49ers' offense out of its funk.

"We had several plays in a row, back-to-back, where players were taking turns on who was going to mess up," he said. "There were presnap penalties and just some foul-ups. So I just wanted to stop them and point out the importance of - you know, you're going to have moments like this in a game and you don't want to make it a game like this."

Of course, the defense also contributed to the offense's woes. The best play was turned in by second-year cornerback Marcus Hudson, who jumped an out route by receiver Bryan Gilmore. Hudson grabbed Alex Smith's pass in stride and then took off to the end zone.

The competition between Hudson and fifth-round draft pick Tarell Brown for one of the backup cornerback positions is shaping up to be one of the best in training camp. Two holdovers from last season - B.J. Tucker and Donald Strickland - also figure into the mix. In fact, with Strickland (knee) and Shawntae Spencer (bone spurs) on the sideline this week, Tucker has been the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback.

Other observations:

• Running back Frank Gore was back running hard after tweaking his hamstring Monday. The 49ers spent a lot of time throwing to their running backs Tuesday, and all four players - Gore, Michael Robinson, Maurice Hicks and Michael Clayton - appear to be accomplished receivers out of the backfield.

• Nolan had his punt returners try and catch punts while holding a ball in each arm. "It makes you square up to the ball," he said. The only player to accomplish the feat was cornerback Nate Clements. Nolan wanted to see if he could do it himself but none of the punters could get the ball to him. "They're afraid of me, I guess," he said.

• First-round draft pick Joe Staley is up to 315 pounds after playing at 295 last season at Central Michigan. The 49ers want Staley to concentrate this season on right tackle, which faces bigger, more physical defensive ends.

- Matthew Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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