Rookie running back Thomas Clayton continues to attract attention - vociferous attention - from assistant coaches for not hitting the hole hard enough. With Frank Gore out for at least a week with a broken hand, Clayton, Michael Robinson and Maurice Hicks will be under a microscope at practice. Coach Mike Nolan also said the team would take a look at some free-agent running backs who can help share the work load at the position this week.
Speaking of Robinson, he crumpled to the grass after becoming dehydrated. He had to be carted off the field and then was sent to Stanford Medical Center for intravenous fluids. Linebacker Jeff Ulbrich was the first player to notice Robinson wasn't himself. Later, Ulbrich said some of the players were joking about the situation. Ulbrich, however, quickly put an end to the banter. After all, Ulbrich was one of the players in the locker room when Thomas Herrion collapsed and died nearly two years ago.
Clayton wasn't the only one who got an earful from an assistant. After a run-blocking play, second-year player Delanie Walker forcefully threw his helmet toward the sideline. The gesture, of course, drew the attention of tight ends coach Pete Hoener, who then had a close - very close - conversation with Walker.
The defense definitely got the better of its offensive mates in the red-zone drill. On one play, Alex Smith threw to Vernon Davis, who appeared to contract a case of "alligator arms" as safety Michael Lewis drew closer. Smith went back to Davis on the following play. This time he made the touchdown catch and immediately got in Lewis' facemask. Lewis defused the situation by giving Davis a hug.
Gore was on the practice field and even borrowed Clayton's helmet so he could take part in a couple of walk-throughs. The running back later said he didn't know how the injury occurred and declined to talk to reporters about it.
During nine-on-nine drills (no cornerbacks) this was the 49ers' second-team defense
Linemen: Ray McDonald (RE), Isaac Sopoaga (NT), Sam Rayburn (LE).
Linebackers: Parys Haralson (ROLB), Jeff Ulbrich, Patrick Willis, Jay Moore (LOLB).
Safeties: Dashon Goldson, Keith Lewis.
Because starting left defensive end Bryant Young has been out the last two days, Ronald Fields has lined up with the first-team defense. Young (back) did some running and should return to practice soon.