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August 19, 2010
Linebacker drill catches Singletary's attention

Mike Singletary is generally an observer during training camp practice, albeit a prominent one. He hawks over practice, offering encouragement now and then and telling players to, "Stay off the ground, now!" He says that about 20 times a session. Today, however, Singletary became more hands-on and far more animated than usual during a drill that was right in his wheelhouse, one in which linebackers must cover running backs and tight ends one-on-one.

Singletary said he was paying special attention to young linebackers like NaVorro Bowman, Keaton Kristick and Mike Balogun because youngsters like them tend to watch the quarterback instead of playing their man. "It's one of those things that can get you killed," he said. "Some of these young guys we'll have to depend on this year. We don't have a lot of time."

When Kristick, a college outside linebacker who is moving inside, was guilty of quarterback watching, Singletary called him out.

"Kristick! Kristick! What did I just tell you?" Singletary yelled.
"Look at my man," Kristick said.
"Then why were you looking at the quarterback?"

Bowman struggled perhaps more than anyone, giving up on one play in which he was responsible for tailback Anthony Dixon (who is looking better by the day) and then getting beat deep by Dixon on the following play. The battle of the day, however, was between the heavyweights, Patrick Willis and Frank Gore. That matchup grew quite animated when Willis accused Gore of using one of the plastic garbage cans - they're used to simulate linemen -- as a pick. Singletary said he loved the competition. "Yes, I do - because iron sharpens iron."

Odds & Ends

Brian Westbrook was given the morning off, his second straight veteran courtesy. Singletary noted that Westbrook didn't practice a lot in Philadelphia, and the 49ers knew that before signing him. Singletary did say that his philosophy is that players must practice to be effective in games. Look for the 49ers to reach some sort of medium this year with Westbrook, who turns 31 during the season. Neither Westbrook nor Gore is likely to play much in the preseason.

David Baas continues to take all of the first-team repetitions at center and appears to be pulling away from Tony Wragge in that competition. Singletary again noted how well Baas played Sunday in Indy. "The thing we wanted to learn was whether Baas could do it," he said. "... There was a lot of comfort in that." Wragge, meanwhile, is getting more work at guard with Adam Snyder out with a concussion.

Following up on what Jimmy Raye said yesterday, Singletary said the plan was to get QB Nate Davis into Sunday's game earlier than he usually sees action, perhaps with the second-team offense.

Reggie Smith has become this year's Dashon Goldson. That is, he's the guy who's coming down with all the practice-field INTS. Smith came down with a leaping interception today in team drills when Alex Smith tried to connect with Delanie Walker on a 25-yard pass at the goal line. Smith had one-on-one coverage against Walker.

Vernon Davis (knee) and Michael Crabtree (neck) were limited in practice and Davis spent a long time working on a side field with strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle. I'd be surprised if either plays Sunday. Meanwhile, another tight end, Nate Byham, has missed the last two practices with an illness.

-- 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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