It's been written before, but it bears mentioning again: One of the things the 49ers may not have realized when they drafted Manny Lawson in the first round last year is what an asset he is pass coverage.
The linebacker is particularly effective at dropping back into coverage and taking away a portion of the field. Not only is he fast, but at 6-foot-5 and with long arms, he is very difficult to throw over. Rams quarterback Marc Bulger found that out last season when Lawson intercepted a pass intended for Torry Holt. And while Lawson has not made any interceptions so far this summer, his presence has thwarted several pass attempts.
Said Lawson: "That's one of the things that I harp on. I may not be right on you as far as coverage is concerned, but the quarterback can't see you."
The 49ers were in full pads this morning for the fourth time this preseason, and the rough stuff is starting to take its toll. Guard Tavares Washington went down with what appears to be a knee sprain and was carted off the field. Tackle Jonas Jennings finished a running play holding his right arm awkwardly. Coach Mike Nolan said the left tackle had suffered a stinger.
Long-time veterans Walt Harris, Larry Allen and Bryant Young were given the morning off. Michael Robinson also did not suit up after suffering from dehydration Tuesday. He could practice Thursday. The 49ers held Arnaz Battle out of practice in order to rest his knee.
The rough-and-tumble practices also frayed some nerves. Mild mannered tight end Billy Bajema got into a shouting match with Lawson during a red-zone drill. Bajema and Lawson had to be separated. Big cornerback Marcus Hudson also leveled running back Thomas Clayton on an outside run even though it was a non-tackling drill. Clayton landed on his back, but to his credit, popped up and finished the run.
Alex Smith threw a nice downfield pass to Taylor Jacobs after the quarterback was flushed to the sideline. Jacobs, by the way, has looked very good and is in the running for one of the precious few receiver spots. He also is being looked at as a punt returner.
Tully Banta-Cain reported that he had lost 15 pounds after showing up at 280 pounds this spring. It shows - he has been one of the more active defenders in camp.
It was an odd day for Vernon Davis. He got into only one animated jawing match in practice - with Banta-Cain. Nolan said he didn't mind all the animation from his players - as long as they can back it up.
-- Matt Barrows