I caught Mike Singletary today for a story I'm working on about linebacker Tully Banta-Cain. I asked the coach if there was a certain number of sacks he wanted out of Banta-Cain this season and I offered up a number - 10. Now Banta-Cain has never had more than 5.5 sacks in one season and I figured Singletary would give some wishy-washy answer about not having a specific number in mind or hoping that everyone on the defense contributes a little.
This is what he said: "Ten would be the minimum to me for him because of what he can do. Ten would be the minimum."
Suffice to say, the coaching staff has high expectations for Banta-Cain this season, and the newcomer certainly has not disappointed in practice. When I asked Banta-Cain the same question, he said he was hoping for one sack a game, which, of course, would leave him with 16 at the end of the season. I'm aiming to run this story in Monday's paper.
I also spoke with tight end Delanie Walker, who has been working hard on improving his blocking so far in camp. Walker, who played receiver in college, said he needs to work hard in that area so that his presence in the huddle doesn't tip off defenses that the 49ers are planning to pass. He also said he looked forward to getting on the field with Vernon Davis.
"They're going to cover Vernon and leave me wide open," he said. "That's what I hope they do anyway."
Speaking of tight ends, free-agent pickup Zach Hilton has really stood out, if for nothing more than the fact that he stands 6-8. Unlike the rest of the tight ends on the roster, Hilton has a bit of experience, having been in the league since 2003. Like Walker, he is concentrating on his blocking in camp.
"It can be tough," he said. "I have to work extra hard on keeping my leverage, keeping it low."
I finally got a chance to talk with safety Darnell Bing, who said he was in the dark as to why he was cut from the Raiders a year after they used a fourth-round pick to get him. He said the neck injury that landed him on injured reserve had nothing to do with it.
"That was never a serious injury in the first place," he said.
"Some of those positions were set in stone," he continued. "They say you have an opportunity, but at the same time you don't."
The 49ers will have their first intrasquad scrimmage later today, and I'll blog again after it's over.
-- Matt Barrows