49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 6, 2010
Bowman, Wilhelm jump out (and jump route) at practice

With Scott McKillop likely out for the season, the team's other backup linebackers were in the spotlight during the morning practice. And I have to say, they rose to the occasion. Veteran Matt Wilhelm jumped a hot route from David Carr in one of the late team sessions and came away with an easy interception. Meanwhile, rookie NaVorro Bowman nearly had his own interception when he darted into the offensive backfield and cut off a swing pass from Carr to Frank Gore. Bowman, however, didn't have a lot of time to react and dropped the would-be pick six.

Wilhelm mostly has been playing behind Patrick Willis at the "Mike" linebacker spot while Bowman, with McKillop out, is now behind Takeo Spikes at "Ted." After practice Greg Manusky acknowledged that drafting inside linebackers is a bit of a leap of faith these days because they rarely play downhill and take on blockers in college. But so far, he said, he and the coaches have been pleased with Bowman's grit. "From a physical standpoint, he's been pretty physical up front," Manusky said. "He can strike. He can bend." ... McKillop had what was described as successful surgery today on his torn knee tendon and ligament.

There's been a steady banter between Vernon Davis and the defense since training camp opened. Reggie Jackson used to refer to himself as the "Straw that Stirs the Drink." That is, he was the personality around which the rest of his Yankees teammates revolved. You might say that Davis is the 49ers' straw.

For example, when Davis dropped an over-the-middle pass, the defensive players couldn't have been more delighted, and the drop was followed by a round of catcalls. Davis, however, usually gets the last laugh. During one of the final team drills, Alex Smith hit Davis with a deep pass in the back, left corner of the end zone after Davis got behind the defense. The throw, as they normally are when Davis goes deep, was perfect. Davis acknowledged that fact. "Alex, I love your ownership!" he said several times as he jogged back to the huddle. "You own part of the team."

Rookie Anthony Davis was the starting right tackle throughout the morning practice. That may be related to injuries along the o-line and the fact that Adam Snyder has been asked to play guard, too. But it's worth noting that Davis was with the first team today while Snyder was a back-up tackle. Davis, by the way, had a very nice block on Patrick Willis five yards up field on a run by Gore. Davis and Iupati definitely get up field quickly.

David Baas (concussion) suited up for practice but did not take any contact. The same goes for Delanie Walker (concussion). Eric Heitmann (stinger), Travis LaBoy (concussion) and WR Scott Long (hamstring) did not practice. Also, there was no nutcracker during today's session and the practice was nearly an hour shorter. After going to the whip early, Mike Singletary appears to be easing off the reins.

Finally, do Secret Service types communicate with each other by talking into their wrist radios like you see in the movies? Ans: YES!! I know this because Arnold Schwarzenneger showed up as the morning practice ended - he spoke to the Bay Area Council then asked to meet Alex Smith (!) - and with him came several black SUVs that were parked in the player lot. When Travis LaBoy went to his car, he found that it was blocked in by the lead SUV. I watched as the driver of the lead SUV spoke into his wrist and then all three vehicles moved back in unison - just like Hollywood. And, no, Singletary did not challenge the Governor in the nutcracker ...

-- 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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