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News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 4, 2008
Smith looks good in spirited 2-minute drill

Two things jumped out in the late practice here in Napa. One, Alex Smith looked sharp directing a two-minute drill with the second-team offense. And two, Mike Martz - who up to this point had shown a zen-like calm - went ballistic a few times when his receivers failed to run the right routes.

First, let's talk about Smith, who had the least amount of first-team repetitions in the morning drill. Martz initially tapped him to run the two-minute offense with the first-team offense. That team, however, went four and out when Robert Ortiz dropped a pass on fourth down. When the second-team offense replaced them, Martz decided to leave Smith in. "I wanted to see how he handled it," Martz told me. "I wanted to see him in that situation."

Here's how the drive, which began on the San Francisco 24 played out:

- 1st down. Smith connects on a deep pass to Dominique Zeigler at the 50 yard line
- 1st down. Another nice pass to Zeigler to the 40.
- 1st down. Smith incompletion to Cam Colvin
- 2nd down. Smith incompletion to Jason Hill, who nearly collides with Zeigler on the play. Zeigler gets an earful from Martz
- 3rd down. Smith connects on the right sideline with Zeigler to the 22
- 1st down. Pass to Colvin dropped.
- 2nd down. Smith connects again with Zeigler at the 9
- 1st down. Pass behind Colvin, but judging from Martz's reaction, the receiver ran the route improperly. Martz: "Come on, Cam! Let's go!"
- 2nd down. Smith to Zeigler inside the five. Martz: "Outside, Cam! Outside!"
- With ball on the one, Thomas Clayton just makes it to the goal line for a touchdown.
- Joe Nedney nails a 40-yard field-goal in the final drill of the day.

That drive, of course, came against the Raiders second-team defense. Still, Smith also looked good earlier in team drills when the first stringers were in. He had two picture-perfect touchdown passes to Jason Hill, the first from the 19 yard line when he hit Hill in the left corner over cornerback DeAngelo Hall. The second was from closer in and was in the right corner of the end zone.

The first "team" session of the evening practice was devoted to running the ball. Smith worked with the first unit; J.T. O'Sullivan worked with the second. When they reassembled for team drills later in the session, O'Sullivan and Smith both worked with the first team while Hill worked with the second. Nolan said the goal is to keep things even among his three quarterbacks, and the number of first-team repetitions in Friday's preseason opener could hinge on who had the most and least first-team repetitions today.

Here's exactly how the session played out:

- JTO (first-team) Handoff right
- JTO (first) Overthrows DeShaun Foster over the middle
- JTO (first Completion over the middle to Josh Morgan

-Hill (2nd-team offense) Completion to Zeigler
- Hill (2nd) 15-yarder over the middle to Morgan

-JTO (first) Short over the middle to Foster
-JTO (first) Incomplete to Foster; may have been backwards pass, scooped up by Raiders

-Hill (2nd) Pass intended for Clayton, picked off by Robert Thomas
-Hill (2nd). Nice deep sideline pass to Morgan ... except Morgan pushes off and Hill would have been sacked by Trevor Scott, who blew past Damane Duckett.
- Hill (2nd) Dump to Keasey; Scott again applies pressure

- JTO (1st) Nice, quick toss to Foster
- JTO (1st) Pass for Zeigler nearly picked off by FS Hiram Eugene
- JTO (1st) Foster initially blocks Kalimba Edwards, then fires off line and catches pass. Nice play.

-Hill (2nd) Short pass to Clayton
-Hill (2nd) Over the middle to Clayton

Red-zone offense:

-Smith (1st) Shallow crossing pattern to Hill
-Smith (1st) Pass is behind Morgan, tipped into the air and intercepted by a diving -Gerard Warren.
-Smith (1st) handoff to Foster
-Smith (1st) Handoff to left end zone

- Hill (2nd) Dump off to Moran Norris
- Hill (2nd) End-zone pass to Ortiz is too high
- Hill (2nd) hand off to Clayton
- Hill (2nd) handoff to Clayton to the right

- Smith (1st) perfectly thrown TD pass to Hill over DeAngelo Hall.
- Smith (1st) Quick pass incomplete to Morgan, but judging from Martz's reaction, it would have been a TD if Morgan had run the route correctly.
- Smith (1st) Foster run; Vernon Davis and Edwards scuffle after the play.
- Smith (1st) Another nicely thrown TD pass to Jason Hill.

- Hill (2nd) handoff to Clayton
- Hill (2nd) handoff to Clayton
- Hill (2nd) TD pass to Ortiz.

It should be noted that several prominent Raiders defenders, including Derrick Burgess, Terdell Sands and Tommy Kelly did not take part in the session. By the same token, the 49ers were without Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle and Jonas Jennings.

Johnson "tweaked" his hamstring earlier in the day. He was on the practice field but walking around with a slight limp. Bruce, Battle and Jennings have not been participating in every practice. After the practice, Mike Nolan said that Dashon Goldson suffered a sprained arch and Tarell Brown hurt his hand. "I don't believe any of (the injuries) are serious," Nolan said.

My spies on the other practice field tell me that Justin Smith abused left guard Robert Gallery during one-on-one blocking drills.

The 49ers will have a special teams practice tomorrow morning, but Nolan hinted strongly that he would give the players -- and, by extension, me -- the afternoon off. Woohoo!

For a take on the Raiders offense (and 49ers' defense) check out my colleague Jason Jones' blog here.

-- Matt 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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