49ers Blog and Q&A

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

June 5, 2007
OTA observations

The 49ers held two more receivers out of practice today - Ashley Lelie, who tweaked his quadriceps Monday, and Arnaz Battle, whose hamstring tightened up Monday. Veteran Darrell Jackson already is sitting out the camp while he recovers from turf toe. The absences meant more work for Bryan Gilmore, Brandon Williams and good-looking rookie Jason Hill.

• Defensive end Melvin Oliver went down with a right knee sprain, but coach Mike Nolan said the second-year player should be fine. Oliver played extensively last season, even scoring a touchdown in a win over the Raiders. This year, however, he might be hard-pressed for playing time. He currently is lining up at left defensive end as a backup to Bryant Young. However, Ronald Fields might be the first player off the bench at that position.

• Quarterback Alex Smith looked sharp Monday, particularly when he threaded the needle on an over-the-middle pass to Hill. He also showed nice touch on a pass over the zone defense to tight end Vernon Davis, who easily scored during team drills.

• Nolan said several players, including 215-pound cornerback Nate Clements, are carrying extra weight this spring with the expectation they will lose it in the summer. "They play a little heavier this time of year to get stronger in the weight room," he said. Nolan also noted it was Clements' bulk - his playing weight is about 210 pounds - that has enabled him to be so durable over the past six seasons.

• First-round draft pick Patrick Willis worked one-on-one with linebackers coach Mike Singletary for about 10 minutes after Monday's session. Nolan had high praise for Willis and two other rookies, defensive backs Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown.

• The 49ers continued to bulk up their defensive line when they agreed to terms with Sam Rayburn, a former Philadelphia Eagles lineman who was released last month. Rayburn's statistics weren't flashy with the Eagles - nine sacks in four seasons - but the 303-pounder is the type of blue-collar worker the 49ers want on their revamped defensive line.

- Matt 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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