Dre Bly, a 10-year veteran, and Nate Clements, an eight-year veteran, both called it the best practice that had been a part of. Ever. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said it was the kind of practice the 49ers could point back to once the regular season began. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but the 49ers defense certainly had the upper hand on the Raiders offense this morning and they definitely let their opponents know about it.
Clements said the swagger started when he heard fellow cornerback Shawntae Spencer standing up to Oakland receiver Louis Murphy, who was engaging in a bit of trash talking. Clements then got what was to be the first of his three interceptions on a tipped ball in seven-on-seven drills. The real fun, however, came during a red-zone drill orchestrated by quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Oakland began at the 49ers' 20-yard line. Russell's first pass, to Will Franklin, was picked off by Clements, who shot in front of the receiver to grab the ball. Two plays later, Russell threw behind the tight end and the ball was picked off by rookie linebacker Diyral Briggs. The 49ers defensive players grew a little rowdier with every interception. And it didn't end there.
When quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was given his chance in the red zone, his second pass attempt, to Louis Murphy, was intercepted by Bly. On the very next play, Clements got his third interception of the afternoon. He returned it past the Raiders dumbfounded offense, all the while shouting, "You can't compete with this!" It was one of those practices where only good things happen and they build off of one another. The best quote came from Bly, who said he chastised the 49ers quarterbacks for not "feeding" the defensive backs like the Raiders did this morning. "That felt good because they were feeding us," Bly said. "That buffet was good."
The defensive feat came without several regular starters. Patrick Willis took part in 7 on 7 drills, but he gave way to Jeff Ulbrich in team drills. Mark Roman was strong safety in place of Michael Lewis (concussion) while Parys Haralson was resting a strained foot ligament. The injury is not considered serious but Haralso rested today while Ahmad Brooks took his place.
It's going to be interesting to see how the Raiders respond at 4:20. There still haven't been any full-on fights over three sessions ...
-- Matt Barrows