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July 29, 2007
Training camp observations, July 29

Training camp kicked off Sunday without two of the oldest, most respected players on the 49ers' rosters. Guard Larry Allen missed the opening day due to what coach Mike Nolan called "personal reasons." However, the 13-year veteran assured the coach he would show up Monday at 8 a.m. Nolan also said that Allen has not talked about retirement with him. Allen, of course, was the only 49er excused from all of the team's spring practices.

Another 13-year veteran, Bryant Young, spent most of the afternoon on an exercise cycle. Nolan said Bryant received an epidural shot in his back after feeling something amiss in recent weeks. Nolan called the procedure "preventative" and said it was something similar to what Young went through in 2005. Young missed three games that season with a knee injury. He is expected to sit out practice for the next few days. Ronald Fields was the starting left defensive end in Young's absence.

Otherwise, the 49ers were a healthy lot on Sunday. Receivers Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie went through the entire practice. Jackson (toe) missed all of the spring sessions while Lelie (quadriceps) played only a handful of snaps. Others who were back after sitting out the spring included left tackle Jonas Jennings (shoulder), right guard Justin Smiley (shoulder) and right tackle Kwame Harris (back). All three played with the starting offensive unit.

Other notes:

*The team has placed defensive end Melvin Oliver, who tore his ACL this spring, on the physically unable to perform list. They still have the option of placing him on injured reserve at midseason

*Arnaz Battle and Jackson were the team's starting wideouts. Coaches seemed frustrated with Lelie during spring drills and it appears that if he wants a prominent role on the team he has to earn it on the practice field.

The most impressive player Sunday? It might have been easily forgotten wideout Taylor Jacobs, who made a couple of nice grabs along the sideline. Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain also was active and looks to have trimmed off some of the 280 pounds he was hauling around during OTAs.

--Matthews 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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