The big news today is that Cal receiver Robert Jordan has left the team. Mike Nolan said a death in the family forced Jordan, an undrafted rookie, to leave practice on Sunday. He said that Jordan couldn't give the team a timetable for his return, so they were forced to release him. Today, the team added WR Robert Ortiz, who has spent time on the Seattle, New England and San Diego rosters. Said Nolan of Jordan: "Hopefully at some point we'd love to have him back. ... This is his choice more than anything else." Jordan had looked good early in camp and had gotten plenty of repetitions at receiver. He also was one of the team's primary punt returners.
First-round draft pick Kentwan Balmer injured his right ankle during nine-on-nine running drills. Balmer was able to get up on his own but walked around gingerly for the remainder of practice and did not return to the field. The severity of the injury is not yet known. With Balmer out, Atiyyah Ellison filled in at left defensive end on the second-team defense.
In addition to the players I listed in an earlier blog, WR Arnaz Battle (knee) and T Damane Duckett (knee) also missed practice. Battle's absence is part of plan to ensure that the knee problems that have plagued him in training camps past don't reappear. With Battle out, Isaac Bruce took part in the full morning practice, his first since the opening day of training camp. Bruce had a dicey situation of his own when he juggled a pass along the sideline and his momentum carried him sprawling into the third row of the aluminum bleachers next to the practice field. The 35-year-old popped up un-injured.
Alex Smith was the "starting" quarterback this morning. When he lined up under center for the first time, Bruce and Bryant Johnson were the wideouts and Zak Keasey was in the backfield with Frank Gore. Here's what the QBs did during the drills:
- Short pass to Gore
- Two tight ends split wide. Gore goes in motion. Quick pass to Gore, but the route is jumped by Patrick Willis for what would have been an easy TD.
- Intermediate corner route to Johnson
- Rolls to his left and fires a pass to Bruce.
- Tries a short dump off to Moran Norris but there's good coverage by LB Larry Grant and the pass is incomplete.
- Quick pass to Billy Bajema
- Pass to Thomas Clayton in the flat
- Pass to no one - QB and WR not on same page
Smith (*The defense was in its "big sub" package, which has an extra CB (Shawntae Spencer) and an extra safety (Keith Lewis)*).
- Walt Harris knocks down short pass intended for Bruce
- Incompletition. Too high and hard to Jason Hill
- No one open; Smith takes off and runs
- Quick pass to Johnson
- Pass to Delanie Walker is broken up
- Quick slant to Dominique Zeigler is incomplete
- Hill scrambles, throws short pass to Zeigler
- Sideline pass to Keasey
The 49ers mostly ran the ball during the second portion of team drills. You can tell the defensive players are itching to hit someone. When Clayton got to the outside on one running play, for example, cornerback Marcus Hudson knocked him down hard, sending the running back hurtling out of bounds. Clayton jumped up and had to be restrained by Manny Lawson. He and Hudson started jawing with Hudson yelling, "This is football!"
One-on-one blocking drills:
1. Jonas Jennings. He's been the best offensive lineman in camp
2. Chilo Rachal. He's far more athletic than his competitor at right guard, Tony Wragge. Needs to work on consistency.
3. Barry Sims. He handles the team's best speed rusher, TBC, two plays straight.
Not so good.
1. NT Joe Cohen. Everyone has been able to push around rookie Cody Wallace. But Wallace stonewalls Cohen twice. It should be noted, however, that Cohen is coming back from a devastating knee injury.
Attention fans scheduled to attend the open practice on Aug. 3: The session has been moved up one hour from 4 p.m. to 3 p.m.
And finally, the 49ers like to bring in guest speakers during camp to motivate the team. Today's guest speaker? Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who is reportedly a big pigskin fan. As long as the players avoid the words "yellowcake," "Plame" and "Scooter," the session ought to go well.
-- Matt Barrows