Last year outside linebacker Diyral Briggs landed on the 49ers active roster - for a little while, at least - because of his defensive end skills. The then-rookie, a former defensive end at Bowling Green, showed a real knack for getting around the edge of offensive tackles, especially in the preseason finale in San Diego.
This summer Briggs is making more linebacker-like plays. A case in point: During today's afternoon practice, Briggs dropped into coverage and leaped to snatch an Alex Smith pass out of the air. Briggs also had an interception during Sunday's win over Indianapolis, which he promptly turned back over to the Colts. (His running back skills need work.)
Briggs has been the primary beneficiary of long-term injuries to Ahmad Brooks (lacerated kidney) and Travis LaBoy (concussion/foot). Brooks' injury is not expected to last into the regular season and his roster spot is safe at this time. LaBoy is another story. He was back at practice today, but the foot injury that kept him out of action altogether in 2009 is still a concern, and to this point he has not been an every-day practice player. The 49ers likely will keep four OLBs on their active roster. Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson and Brooks are the first three. The remainder of the preseason will decide the last spot.
A year ago, weight also was an issue for Briggs. He was as light as 228 during his senior year at Bowling Green. This year he's around 250 pounds on his way to 255.
Odds & Ends
Briggs got the better of Smith on the aforementioned play, but Smith still had a solid practice session, both in the morning and afternoon. He connected with Ted Ginn on a 45-yard touchdown and then immediately hit Delanie Walker with a deep pass over the middle. Of course, it should be noted that Smith and the first-team offense were mostly going against the third-team defense, including cornerbacks Tramaine Brock and Patrick Stoudamire. Greg Manusky apparently is resting his top guys ...
Brian Westbrook and Frank Gore together? If you blinked, you missed it, but Nos. 20 and 21 were in the same backfield on consecutive plays in seven-on-seven drills today.
Guard Chris Patrick (shoulder) cleared waivers and reverted to injured reserve. The 49ers now have five days to decide on an injury settlement with Patrick or to keep him on IR for the season. The team did the former with Martail Burnett and the latter with Scott McKillop.
Receiver Bobby Guillory may have botched a punt return against the Colts, but the 49ers like his potential at that position. "He's struggling a little bit," Mike Singletary said today. "He's got a lot of nervous energy about him; just trying to get him to settle down a bit. Hopefully he has the chance to return a punt in this game. I just want to see him with the ball. You know, 'let me see what you can do with the ball.' And so, hopefully that situation comes up this weekend."
Tomorrow's morning practice has been switched to an afternoon practice from 3-5 p.m.
-- Matt Barrows