The 49ers were feeling feisty on Wednesday's steamy finale to training camp. The rough stuff began during a goal-line drill when linebacker Jeff Ulbrich took exception to a lowered shoulder by running back Michael Robinson. Ulbrich shoved Robinson. Robinson threw the ball at Ulbrich's midsection, and the fight was on. During the fracas, linebacker Patrick Willis made a beeline to tight end Billy Bajema, and those two also had to be separated. A few plays later, running back Thomas Clayton also tangled with linebacker Parys Haralson. And in case you're wondering, no, tight end Vernon Davis was not involved in any of the melees, although he easily could have been. Toward the end of the practice, in what was supposed to be a non-contact drill, Davis caught a short pass near the goal line, lowered his shoulder and nearly bowled over linebacker John Syptak. Syptak raised his arms as if to say, "What the heck?"
"We had two or three wrestling matches - that's what I like to call them," Mike Nolan said. "No clear winner in any of them."
With training camp at an end, players will no longer have night meetings and veterans can sleep in their own beds. Those players who do not yet have housing can remain in the team hotel.
Two years ago during training camp, Thomas Herrion impressed Nolan when he swooped in to rescue Alex Smith when Smith was struggling to belt out the University of Utah fight song. The melodious Herrion helped Smith - the two were both former Utes -- finish the song is rousing fashion.
So it was only natural that the 49ers named their annual rookie talent show in the late Herrion's honor.
Nolan said the first annual Thomas Herrion Talent Show went down to the wire with the rookie defensive backs narrowly edging out the offensive linemen. The defensive backs did an act entitled "Vanilla Ice and the Chocolate Chips" with safety Jake Patten in the lead role.
Nolan also commented on linebacker Patrick Willis, who impressed teammates with a spirited rendition of James Brown. Said Willis to Nolan after the act: "I'd rather play New England 10 times in a row than have to ever do that again."
A few weeks ago when Larry Allen was a no-show on the first day of training camp, everyone was wondering if the big guard was going to retire. Now the question is whether Allen is going to play another season, maybe more.
The difference between Allen in 2006 and Allen in 2007 is stark. He said he currently weighs about 340 pounds. No one ever found out what he weighed last year, but it sure as heck wasn't 340 pounds. Fellow guard Justin Smiley estimated it was around 370 pounds.
Allen looked anything but spry last season. He labored through drills and spent the time immediately after practice running sprints - and I use the term "sprint" quite loosely - in an effort to lose weight. These days, he is pulling and running sweeps almost as much as Smiley. He looks five years younger.
So does he think he has another season or two in him? Allen doesn't have an answer yet. Like fellow 13-year veteran Bryant young, he said he'll wait until the end of the season to see how he feels.
"Like I said, at the end of the year I'll look at it," he said. "Like I do every year."
Receiver C.J. Brewer confirmed today that he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in practice yesterday, an injury that will put him out of action for the rest of the season. Brewer, who tore the ACL in his left knee five years ago today, said he knew the diagnosis as soon as it happened.
He had just caught a pass from Shaun Hill when he made a move to sidestep a defender.
"As soon as I made that cut, as soon as I felt that shift - I knew right away," Brewer said.
Though the young receiver had little chance of making the 53-man squad, the 49ers saw enough potential in him to keep him on the practice squad all last season. At 6-2, 210 pounds, Brewer is lithe and has nice hands, and he has made a few acrobatic catches in practice this year and last.
He will have surgery Friday at which point doctors will use a ligament from a cadaver to help repair his knee. Brewer said he was aiming to be ready for next year's OTAs. He has been placed on injured reserve.
It's a shame NFL Europa is finito. A guy like Luke Getsy really could have benefited from a year or two in the developmental league. The 49ers like the Akron quarterback because he's sharp and because he picked up the offense quickly. But he won't play Saturday against Chicago and, barring injury, it's safe to say he won't make the 53-man roster. Getsy's best hope is to play in the preseason finale in San Diego and prove to the 49ers he deserves a spot on the practice squad.
Nolan said the starters would play through the first drive of the third quarter against the Bears. The second-team unit will finish the game with a few third teamers thrown into the mix in the fourth quarter. He said Kwame Harris and Joe Staley would alternate series in the game. The situation at right guard will be like it was against the Raiders - David Baas entering for Justin Smiley for the third series.
There were several stand-out plays in Wednesday's padded practice:
-- Willis intercepted a pass from Hill that was intended for Bajema. On the next play, Hill nearly was picked off again, this time by cornerback Tarell Brown who slapped the ball to the ground. Secondary coach Johnnie Lynn's reaction: "I like the pbu but I'd love the interception." Pbu=pass broken up.
-- Brown later caught a deflected pass from Hill that was intended for receiver Dominique Zeigler. In Hill's defense, he was icing a swollen thumb on his throwing hand earlier in the day.
-- Alex Smith made a nice pass to Arnaz Battle while rolling to his right. Battle made an equally impressive catch on the sideline, keeping his toes in bounds for the reception.
-- Matt Barrows