The 49ers closed the meat-and-potatoes portion of practice a week ago, which means we can’t watch the offense and defense go against each other in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. It also means they’re finally installing all the crazy plays they’ve been waiting to run all offseason without any pesky reporters watching. While it’d be a blast to watch Colin Kaepernick line up as the Z receiver and run a reverse, or try to comprehend the sight of Lawrence Okoye catching short passes in the back of the end zone, I can see why the 49ers would rather practice their more exciting plays away from a bunch of people vying to be the first to report what they’ve seen on Twitter.
Also, the 49ers still let us come out and watch the team stretch and do some work with their respective position groups before sending us back to the media trailer. Best of all, those first 20-30 minutes are the only time when cameras are allowed, regardless of whether or not the rest of practice is closed.
The beauty of using a digital SLR with a large memory card is that you can take as many photos as you want. I usually shoot somewhere between 150 and 350 whenever I’m in Santa Clara and only end up using about 5% of them … if that.
Since Thursday was a day off for the players, I figured this would be a good time to post more photos than I usually do from Wednesday’s practice. And since the photos below aren’t in slideshow format, I suspect there won’t be too many complaints.
The first thing everyone probably focused on at the beginning of Wednesday’s practice was the new guy: Jonathan Baldwin. Or is it Jon Baldwin? Either way, he started his afternoon with a little special teams work, which meant he got to wear one of those funny green helmet cap things.
Frank Gore isn’t needed on special teams, so while Andy Lee was punting balls high into the blue Santa Clara sky the 49ers’ star running back worked alone. Gore’s game is about attacking holes and oncoming blitzers. But there’s also finesse: vision, patience and footwork. Gore’s a stocky player, but his feet moved so quick around these cones it looked almost like an illusion.
After punt return drills, the receivers ran slant patterns. Baldwin apparently dropped a couple balls when the cameras were on during his first practice on Tuesday, but he caught this one on Wednesday:
Believe it or not, Chuck Jacobs also made this catch:
As the 49ers look back on the still-evolving transition from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick, much of the discussion has focused on how Kaepernick builds chemistry with his receivers. But a quarterback leads the entire team, and everyone has their own leadership style. Daniels obviously has a long way to go before he heads an NFL team, but he certainly has the required charisma.
Even though Daniels hasn’t been around long, he seems to have several ways of greeting teammates. Here he is messing around with a team employee:
Then he met up with Perrish Cox:
Which was followed by a more conventional hello for Chad Hall:
The quarterbacks all got together and worked with the running backs for a bit. The drill: hand off the ball to a back, catch a ball tossed from a team employee, rollout to the right and throw a short pass. After one rep, Harbaugh gave Kaepernick a pointer or two.
Wondering about how Kendall Hunter looks in practice? Jim Harbaugh said he’d play in Sunday’s game against the Vikings, and here he is connecting with and spinning off a blocking sled.
Hunter looked fine to me, anyway.
All the running backs took part in that same drill, one after the other. The loudest guy in the group is usually Gore. He had something to say between cone and blocking sled drills, including commentary for every back as they ran through each drill.