Remember how loaded the 49ers seemed at wide receiver heading into the OTAs? Well, the team suddenly needs every bit of that depth to get through practice. One receiver, Isaac Bruce, is not attending the OTAs. Three more spent the day watching from the sideline. They are Arnaz Battle (foot), Michael Crabtree (foot), and Jason Hill, who suffered a minor ankle sprain on Monday.
When the first-team offense took the field, the starters were Josh Morgan at "X" and Dominique Zeigler at, appropriately, "Z". Zeigler, however, had to leave the field after colliding with free safety Dashon Goldson (who, by the way, looked really good today). Zeigler doesn't have a lot of cushion to absorb blows but the early report is that he was merely shaken up. The healthy receivers in practice: Morgan, Brandon Jones, Maurice Price, Michael Spurlock, Mark Bradford and Dobson Collins.
Earlier in the practice, Zeigler also got tangled up with cornerback Walt Harris and Harris bore the brunt of it. Zeigler made the diving catch along the sideline and Harris stayed on the ground for several minutes. Trainers were looking at his right knee and he had to be helped to a cart on the side of the practice field. The early report is that the injury is a sprain and that it's "nothing major." Tarell Brown took over opposite Nate Clements. Shawntae Spencer already is sitting out the OTA and Reggie Smith has been moved to safety.
Second-year defensive end Kentwan Balmer got caught in the wash on a Glen Coffee running play yesterday and sprained his knee. He sat out today's practice. Rookie Ricky Jean-Francois took over for him at LDE with the second-team defense.
I listed the first-team O and D in yesterday's blog. Keeping in mind the injuries and absences noted above, here's what the second team looked like:
RB: Glen Coffee
FB: Zak Keasey
QB: Alex Smith
WR: Brandon Jones
WR: Maurice Price
TE: Bear Pascoe
LT: Barry Sims
LG: Joe Toledo (didn't he play tackle exclusively last year?)
C: Cody Wallace
RG: Tony Wragge
RT: Jacob Bender
NT: Isaac Sopoaga
RDE: Demetric Evans
LDE: Ricky Jean-Francois
MLB: Jeff Ulbrich
TLB: Mark Washington
WLB: Ahmad Brooks
SLB: Marques Harris
CB: Marcus Hudson
CB: Tarell Brown
SS: Lewis Baker
FS: Curtis Taylor
Overall, the practice seemed to have better tempo than yesterday's, which drew the ire of Mike Singletary. I'm not going to chart the quarterback play, but it's safe to say that it continues to be a tad rusty. But, hey, it's only mid May.
Alex Smith tried to throw a pass underneath to Frank Gore, but rookie inside linebacker Scott McKillop sniffed it out, stepped in front of Gore and got a pick-six type interception. It's not the kind of play one expects from a rookie.
Shaun Hill attempted a deep pass down the middle of the field to Josh Morgan. The ball had more wiggle than Shakira, but Morgan was still able to maneuver underneath rookie CB Carlos Thomas to make the reception.
Perhaps the best play of the day was Dashon Goldson's leaping sideline interception of an Alex Smith pass to Morgan. It was a well-thrown ball but Goldson's athleticism allowed him to make the play. That's precisely what the 49ers are looking for from Goldson come September.
The 49ers will get a visit from Jerry Rice tomorrow. Rice is in town to shoot an ESPN show called "Homecoming" in which a former star pays a visit to his home town, high school, college, former team, etc. Rice is scheduled to speak to the team after practice.
-- Matt Barrows