There was a lot of offensive-line shuffling during this morning's practice. Starting left guard David Baas continued to sit out following his Monday concussion. Starting right guard Chilo Rachal also was an observer after being sapped by dehydration yesterday. And starting center Eric Heitmann sat out the session after suffering a shoulder stinger early in practice. Mike Singletary said the injury wasn't serious but that Heitmann was held out of practice as a precaution. In addition, left tackle Barry Sims got the morning off as a veteran courtesy.
Those injuries, of course, allowed the coaches to get a look at some younger players. But it also gave us a glimpse of the pecking order along the offensive line. With those three starters out, the first-string offensive line looked like this: LT Joe Staley, LG Mike Iupati, C Tony Wragge, RG Adam Snyder and RT Anthony Davis.
Wragge is clearly ahead of Cody Wallace at center, and he's been the No. 2 center since training camp began. (Baas also had taken some snaps at center before his concussion). Snyder's chances of making the team go up because he can both play inside and outside on the offensive line.
Both Iupati and Davis are very inconsistent, which is what you'd expect from a rookie on Day 4 of training camp. In one instance, Iupati is mowing down the opposing defensive end as he did against Khalif Mitchell this morning. On the next two, he is beaten by Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks respectively. Davis, meanwhile, has been the culprit on a couple of blown protections the last two days. Today he was beaten soundly by Parys Haralson who disrupted Alex Smith.
For the first time this summer, I paid careful attention to the one-on-one blocking drills, which pit an offensive lineman against a pass-rushing defender. I plan to write another blog later today that goes into detail about the various battles, but I will leave you with this teaser: Alex Boone.
Odds and Ends
Rookie cornerback Phillip Adams made a nice play to break up a pass to Jason Hill this morning. Adams also has been looking solid in special teams practice, which likely would be his role if he were to make the squad this year. Singletary described Adams as "hungry and focused. He asks a lot of the right questions and spends a lot of times with the coaches." Sounds like the rook's made a good impression.
The 11-85 connection continues to be unstoppable. Smith hooked up with Vernon Davis at least twice over the middle this morning, including a nicely thrown toss over Brooks. It's obviously a route Smith has grown very comfortable throwing.
Rookie Nate Byham also sat out practice because on an ankle strain suffered in Monday's afternoon practice. Cornerback Will James also had the morning off but is not injured.
Asked what it was like to cover Jerry Rice, who goes into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, Singletary thought for a moment before answering: "It was a headache. I think that would be the best way to describe Jerry."
-- Matt Barrows