49ers Blog and Q&A

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

May 20, 2009
OTA observations; options at cornerback

Obviously the big news on Day Three of OTAs was Walt Harris' ACL tear, which will probably knock him out for the 2009 season. The 49ers seem content right now to allow Tarell Brown and Shawntae Spencer to move up in the pecking order but they also likely will bring in a few free-agent cornerbacks for workouts in coming weeks. One of the best of the bunch available is Roderick Hood, who is a six-year veteran of the Eagles and Cardinals. The 49ers have not yet inquired about Hood, according to Hood's agent.

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Maybe it was because his idol - Jerry Rice - was watching from the sideline or maybe it was because he's one of the last receivers still practicing, but Josh Morgan had another prolific afternoon today. In fact, you might say that Morgan has been the offensive star of the team's OTAs this week. He caught deep passes on Monday and Tuesday, and today showed that he could catch a ball in traffic when he outwrestled inside linebacker Mark Washington for a short pass over the middle. Rice, in town to shoot an ESPN show called "Homecoming," spoke to Morgan and his teammates for 12 minutes after practice.

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Another receiver who looked good today was tight end Vernon Davis, who seems to be a bit slimmer (read: less muscle-bound) this season. On three occasions, Davis leapt with his arms stretched high to bring down a pass. On one of those catches, Davis was inadvertently knocked down from behind by Washington. This is supposed to be a non-contact practice (tell that to Dominique Zeigler) and the collision was one that Davis, no stranger to practice fisticuffs, might have taken exception to in the past. This time, Davis merely popped back up and continued running down the field with the ball.

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Two of those high passes to Davis were thrown by Alex Smith. He has noticeably more zip on his throws than in previous sessions, but a lot of them have been sailing a bit. No doubt this is one of the side effects of regaining your arm strength. All in all, this has to be considered a positive OTA session for a guy who has had two shoulder surgeries in the last two years.

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Perhaps the prettiest throw of the day came from Shaun Hill, who launched a perfect touch-pass rainbow down the right sideline to Michael Robinson, who caught it in stride. Hill celebrated the pass with a huge fist pump.

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Davis out leaped Dashon Goldson for one of his receptions. On the next play, however, Goldson stepped in front of the receiver for his second INT in as many days. Again, this is precisely what the 49ers, who had ZERO interceptions from their safeties a year ago, are hoping for from Goldson in the regular season. ... Goldson also appears to be one of three defenders who could wear the radio receiver for the 49ers this season. The other candidates are Michael Lewis and Patrick Willis. So far this spring none of those guys have experimented with the receiver although all three had a chance to wear it last offseason.

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Jeff Ulbrich was excused from today's session. He was replaced by rookie Scott McKillop and first-year linebacker Justin Roland.... Zeigler, Lewis, Arnaz Battle (foot), Michael Crabtree (foot), Jason Hill (ankle) and Kentwan Balmer (knee) observed today's practice. Zeigler suffered a concussion in yesterday's non-contact practice. None of those guys will practice in tomorrow's OTA finale ... Crabtree says he is able to do everything that his teammates are doing as far as the weight-room regimen. The only thing he is not doing is running. He said he plans to be running again by the start of training camp, which likely will be July 30, although the date has not yet been settled.

-- Matt Barrows



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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