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August 1, 2008
Alex Smith rests on Day 8

And on the eighth day, Alex Smith rested ... As was the case with Shaun Hill earlier this week, Alex Smith was given the morning practice off to rest his right arm. Smith also will have the afternoon off, he said. "We have been doing a lot, I'm not going to lie," Smith said. "... putting a lot in and practices have been rigorous." Smith and Hill had been alternating repetitions with the first-team offense. When Hill was out earlier this week, J.T. O'Sullivan stepped in and took what would have been Hill's first-team snaps. Smith was scheduled to run the first team this morning. But it was Hill, not O'Sullivan, who ran the first team. When asked about this, Mike Nolan said all the first-team repetitions should even out when all is said and done. "We have a plan," he said. "We have to look further down (the practice schedule)."

Smith, meanwhile, said he had no problem with getting a day off. In fact, he did more in one brief media session to allay concerns over the team's three-way quarterback competition than Nolan has over the past two days. The biggest question is whether a quarterback can adequately learn a new offense while sharing snaps with two other passers. Said Smith: "I feel like we've gotten so much more (of the offense) in, even more than in years' past." Smith said he's thrown more in this training camp than in any other he's taken part in. In years' past, of course, Smith was getting virtually all of the first-team repetitions. This year, offensive coordinator Mike Martz has been aggressively installing his playbook. That's one of the reasons why the quarterback play has been so inconsistent. But Smith said he was far more comfortable now than he was on the first day of training camp. He also said he didn't mind sharing snaps with two teammates. "Honestly, I think from my mindset, it's no different," he said. "I'm still trying to take advantage of my reps out there."

Like Hill yesterday, Smith won't do any throwing today. He'll work on his footwork and take "mental reps." He said he felt confident with his surgically repaired right arm when he made it through OTAs. He said the arm felt a little tired now, but that's expected after a week of training camp. Smith said in previous years, the entire team would have gotten a day off by now. Today's rest, he said, is tantamount to a team day off.

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O'Sullivan ran the second-team offense today. He had perhaps the nicest pass of the day, a perfectly placed toss in the back corner of the end zone to Jason Hill in which the ball was just out of reach of cornerback Tarell Brown. Nolan likes to end practice on a high note, and with that play the horn sounded to end the session.

**********
I've never seen two coaches more animated over one practice play. During blocking drills today, the defense was running two-man stunts against a guard and tackle. That's where the inside rusher engages the guard but then loops around and tries to get outside the tackle. During one play, LT Joe Staley handled the outside rusher well, but guard Adam Snyder was slow to pick up linebacker Jay Moore who shot up the inside.

Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula (who could and should be the star of his own reality TV show) was ecstatic with Moore and give him a loud and hearty congratulations. On the opposite spectrum was offensive line coach George Warhop who ripped into Snyder.

Looked Good:
- Eric Heitmann. The best-looking offensive lineman has been Jonas Jennings. A close second is Heitmann, who easily handled the inside rush of Ronald Fields on two straight plays.
- Isaac Sopoaga. His best move is a bull rush, and he used it to put Tony Wragge on his backside on separate plays.

Not so good:
- Adam Snyder. See above. Snyder also continues to have problems with Justin Smith's inside move.

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On the injury front, Damane Duckett was back in action at left tackle with the second-team offense. The injury I observed tackle Joe Toledo suffer yesterday in pass-blocking drills turned out to be a cramp. Running back Michael Robinson (knee) was observed walking out to practice sans crutches. Robinson was one of the hardest workers in the offseason program and he didn't miss a workout.

-- Matt Barrows

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MATTHEW 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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