Since the first photographic journey through a San Francisco 49ers practice was so much fun to put together, I combed through the rest of the 300+ photos I took that glorious afternoon a week ago and chose the best of the rest. In focusing mostly on Randy Moss last week, I left out several other pictures worth sharing. Plus, Pro Football Talk linked to the last photo-centric post … which was nice. Lightning probably won’t strike twice, but you never know.
And remember dear readers, because we here at BASG love and appreciate you … these photos are not in slideshow format.
Alex and the Mechanics
One of the stories this off-season has centered on Alex Smith working with pitching “guru” Tom House on changing his throwing mechanics. One thing specifically that Smith has worked on is avoiding “leg lock,” (when his left knee doesn’t flex enough, or at all). It seemed like Smith was focusing on correcting that one particular flaw in his throwing motion, at least according to a couple photos I took.
The only concern I’d have is that one would assume more knee flex means a lower release point. For a quarterback who gets his fair share of passes batted down at the line, that might not be what the 49ers are looking for. One of the most interesting things about the preseason games will be seeing Smith’s new mechanics in action against opposing defenses.
I’ve attended two Niners practices in my life, and Walker was busy and productive during both. Here he is catching a pass from Smith.
Spotting Bruce Miller: the opposite of “Where’s Waldo.”
Joe Looney takes “mental reps”
Standing behind the healthy offensive linemen were Joe Looney and Chase Beeler, both going through the motions (sort of like a hitter timing a pitcher by swinging while in the on deck circle). Looney, who was drafted in the fourth round, is still recovering from the Lisfranc injury to his foot. Beeler’s recovering from surgery to repair his broken right hand. Here’s Looney getting some advice from offensive line coach Mike Solari…
And then putting that advice into action, along with a cast-wearing Beeler.
Coaches in the spotlight
I’m not exactly an expert on the pacing of a standard NFL practice. But from what I’ve noticed and been told, Harbaugh isn’t much on letting his players stand around. Everybody (coaches included) is constantly moving from one area of the field to another, with very short rest periods. As a result, even extremely fit guys like Walker and Kyle Williams get tired:
One of my favorite moments from practice was seeing Frank Gore, for two reasons. First, Gore looked far more spry than he did back in August when I saw him during training camp. After that practice, he limped off the field and I wondered if his hip had fully healed. I didn’t see any of that a week ago.
Second, Gore was constantly talking during practice in a way that, at least to me, made him seem almost like a coach himself. After taking the ball off left tackle on one play, he trotted back and had some spirited feedback for Tom Rathman, who seemed to enjoy the exchange. Gore’s voice was easily recognizable but I couldn’t tell what he was saying, so I don’t know if he had some thoughts on the blocking scheme or if his comments were completely unrelated to the previous play. However, for a vet like Gore to look and sound so fiesty during a voluntary practice in May impressed me as much as anything else I saw in Santa Clara. Seems pretty likely Gore will be a coach someday.
Sticking with Gore, this pass from Smith (with Harbaugh closely watching) led to one of my favorite photos from that afternoon.
Still, you can’t talk about the coaching staff without bringing up Jim Tomsula. The defensive line always looks like they’re having the most fun of all the groups, and he’s a huge reason why (so is Justin Smith, who’s a lot more vocal during practice than he lets on during postgame interviews).
How about a couple more shots of Moss? This was a deep pass he caught at the beginning of practice (no one was covering the receivers at the time).
And here he is between drills, along with first round pick A.J. Jenkins.
Williams had the hellish off-season to end all hellish off-seasons, and he looked as motivated as anyone during practice. Sharp cuts, running at game speed, not one drop that I saw. He looks a little bigger this year, too.
The biggest and baddest guys I saw returning kickoffs were NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. The guy with the best moves? With Ted Ginn present but not taking part in any activities that day, undrafted free agent Nathan Palmer was the best returner I saw.
Since most of the QB drills were on the other side of the field from where the media was stationed, I didn’t get many great shots of either Colin Kaepernick or Josh Johnson (who throws a nice ball, by the way).
Scott Tolzein was as accurate as anyone on the field that day. Here he is throwing a pass to Brett Swain, who got DRILLED by Bowman at the end of this play (just kidding).
“Guys, I swear! That sucker was at least 25 pounds!”
Yeah, yeah … Alex was probably talking to the assembled QBs and WRs about short-yardage situations. But since Moss is a known fisherman, I prefer imagining that Smith was telling Moss and everyone else about some huge bass he caught during the off-season.