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May 24, 2012
OTA notes: Unlucky break forces Beeler to the left


If you like to devour 49ers minutia, tuck a napkin in your collar and belly up to the table. Here are the nuts and bolts from Wednesday's OTA, the only session this week that is open to the media.

As I mentioned on Twitter, second-year center Chase Beeler returned to practice after sitting out the recent minicamp with a broken right hand. Beeler, who is right-handed, merely started snapping with his left hand. (He has a small cast on the right that he hopes will come off in a couple of weeks).

Beeler's issue last year was size and strength. He arrived with the 49ers at 275 pounds, and he used his time on the practice squad to get bigger and stronger. While the broken hand - he did it while lifting weights - doesn't help his quest for power, Beeler still has made noticeable strides. He's up to 295 pounds and he is benching as much as 440 pounds.

Beeler's issue this year might be practice repetitions. With Jonathan Goodwin back at center with the first-team offensive line, and Alex Boone at right guard with the first team (perhaps permanently), Daniel Kilgore has been the center with the second-team line and draft pick Jason Slowey has taken a lot of snaps with the second or third teams.

There were several compositions of the second-team offensive line; here's the main one. Keep in mind that the veterans will have an advantage in the early practices and that draft pick Joe Looney isn't practicing:

RT Kenny Wiggins, RG Derek Hall, C Kilgore, LG Garrett Chisolm, LT Mike Person

The two big changes to the starting defense are that Dashon Goldson is not present and C.J. Spillman is filling in at free safety and that Aldon Smith has taken over at right outside linebacker from Parys Haralson. (Perrish Cox filled in as the nickel cornerback) Smith had one of the defensive highlight when he leapt at the line of scrimmage, stretched out and batted down a Scott Tolzien screen pass. Smith's finger tips probably were 11 feet in the air.

Here's the composition of the second-team defense:

LDE: Will Tukuafu, NT: Ricky Jean-Francois, RDE: Demarcus Dobbs
ILBS: Larry Grant and Tavares Gooden
LOLB: Haralson, ROLB Eric Bakhtiari
SS: Mark LeGree, FS: Cory Nelms
CBs: The cornerbacks were rotated through like the WRs; Cox and Curtis Holcomb seemed to get the most reps with the No. 2s.

Odds & Ends

• The quarterbacks also rotated throughout the team drills. Alex Smith always was the first quarterback to throw, but Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson and Tolzien all had chances to throw behind the No. 1 offensive line.

• With Ted Ginn out with an undisclosed injury, kick returns fell to, in order, Kyle Williams, Kendall Hunter, Chris Culliver and Cox

• Undrafted free agent Michael Thomas got his hand on two passes during 7-on-7 drills and intercepted one of them. Thomas (5-9, 185 pounds) was playing safety in those drills but also took some snaps during team drills at cornerback.

• A.J. Jenkins had a mixed practice, including a dropped end-around attempt.

• Michael Crabtree looked smooth and fluid. He caught the longest pass of the afternoon from Kaepernick over undrafted rookie Anthony Mosely. Crabtree later caught a pass on an intermediate crossing route from Alex Smith.

• Keeping in mind that it's only May, Randy Moss has the look of a No. 1 receiver. He's a big target and was the most popular one for the quarterbacks on Wednesday.

• Draft pick Cam Johnson was lining up at ROLB with the third-team defense; undrafted rookie Courtnei Brown was at LOLB.

• Ben Hannula has switched from defensive back to wide receiver.

-- 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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