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

August 6, 2011
Niners notebook: Willis forces fumble during live drill

It was another full-padded practice for the 49ers on Saturday. Since the two-day moratorium on padded practices to open camp, the 49ers have been in full regalia every practice save one. The team also had a live tackling drill for the second straight day during which they concentrated on goal-line and short-yardage running plays.

willis1.jpg

The highlight of the live drills came when running back Anthony Dixon tried to break wide to his left on a goal-line handoff. He was run down by Patrick Willis, who not only made the tackle but stripped Dixon of the football. It was scooped up by Ray McDonald who found only one person between him and a 95-yard return - coach Jim Harbaugh, who after a moment's hesitation, signaled to McDonald to keep running down field. Dixon tweaked his ankle and did not carry the ball the rest of the afternoon. Rookie Kendall Hunter and Xavier Oman filled in.

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There were a number of absences today. After making a nice 50-yard catch along the sideline on Friday, rookie receiver Chris Hogan from Monmouth was wearing a walking boot on his left foot. Others who didn't practice included linebackers NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Keaton Kristick; cornerbacks Shawntae Spencer (hamstring) and Tarell Brown and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga (hamstring). In addition, safety Reggie Smith and left tackle Joe Staley did not finish practice as a precaution. Neither appeared seriously injured.

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The players who stood out included inside linebacker Alex Joseph, who had a couple of tackles and who intercepted Alex Smith on a down-the-middle attempt to Vernon Davis. Cornerback Tramaine Brock also has had a solid training camp. With injuries to Spencer and Brown, he was paired with Carlos Rogers with the starting unit. His day included an interception of Smith on an attempt to Braylon Edwards in seven-on-seven drills.


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It wasn't all bad for Smith. After underthrowing Ted Ginn on a deep pattern Friday, he and Ginn connected on a big, 50-yard-plus touchdown throw during the two-minute drill at the end of practice. Ginn had several steps on undrafted rookie cornerback Phillip Davis. Smith caught the defense in an all-out blitz and the offensive line did a good job at picking up the extra rushers. Not to be outdone, Colin Kaepernick had a long pass play down the opposite sideline to Kevin Jurovich, who was being covered by rookie Chris Culliver.

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Jeremiah Masoli has been serving as the No. 3 quarterback. When Masoli first joined the 49ers, they gave him No. 29 and said he'd be a running back. That's quickly changed. He wears No. 3, has exclusively played quarterback, and Harbaugh said he will remain at that position. In fact, he said he looked forward to seeing what Masoli can do in a preseason game. Masoli hooked up with undrafted receiver Tyler Beiler -- a guy I pointed out earlier this week -- on a deep touchdown pass. With Hogan and Dontavia Bogan (ACL) out, Beiler appears to be the best of the undrafted rookie wideouts.

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Here was the two-deep roster today, keeping in mind the injuries and the fact that some of the newer players, like Edwards, are still being worked into the lineup. That is, this was the starting and second-team lineup on Saturday, Aug 6. It likely will change when the team meets next on Monday. (They have Sunday off).

Offense:
LT Joe Staley, Alex Boone
LG Mike Iupati, Daniel Kilgore
C Adam Snyder, Jonathan Goodwin
RG Chilo Rachal, Tony Wragge
RT Anthony Davis, Mike Person
WR Joshua Morgan, Braylon Edwards
WR Ted Ginn, Kyle Williams (Williams often was the 3rd WR)
TE Vernon Davis, Konrad Reuland
TE Delanie Walker, Colin Cloherty
RB Frank Gore, Anthony Dixon
QB Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick

Defense:
LDE Ray McDonald, Will Tukuafu
NT Ricky Jean Francois, Ian Williams
RDE Justin Smith, Brian Bulcke
ROLB Aldon Smith, Thaddeus Gibson
LOLB Parys Haralson, Antwan Applewhite
MILB Patrick Willis, Alex Joseph
TILB Larry Grant, Blake Costanzo
CB Carlos Rogers, Phillip Adams
CB Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver
S Donte Whitner, Madieu Williams
S Chris Maragos, Curtis Taylor

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The 49ers will be holding their annual "Pasta Bowl" event on Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Santa Clara Convention center. The family-style charity dinner, during which players and team officials like CEO Jed York serve as waiters, will raise funds for the team's charitable arm, the San Francisco 49ers Foundation.

Single tickets are still available. For more information, go to www.49ers.com.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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