SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was excited about the energy from the players during the team’s first on-field practice on Friday. Harbaugh was very hands-on during the practice, but felt that the team accomplished a lot on the first day.
“[The] energy was great,” he said. “Our guys took care of each other in the format of the practice, understanding the tempo. You wish you can come up with a formula to bottle the enthusiasm and the energy that the football players have for the first day of training camp. There’s nothing like it.”
With quarterback Alex Smith watching from the sideline per league rules for a player with a new contract, rookie Colin Kaepernick took the majority of the first-team snaps. Running back Jeremiah Masoli, who played quarterback in college, got the second team snaps during drills while McLeon Bethel-Thompson was third on the depth chart.
Kaepernick and center Adam Snyder had several fumbles during snaps but it was something that Harbaugh said that they would work on fixing that issue. The quarterback said that it wasn’t any issues with snaps, but it was something new that the team was trying to tweak and work on.
“I’m just trying to get better, every day at practice,” Kaepernick said. “At the start of practice, things were a little fuzzy. By the end of practice, it was like ‘all right, I know what I’m doing.'”
Along with understanding the new rules of the CBA, said Harbaugh, it was one of “100” of adjustments the team will have to make in the upcoming practices. But despite the snapping issues, Kaepernick threw with a zip on his passes and hit his receivers in stride on deep throws to the corner. The quarterback praised his head coach for being very hands-on in using his experience as a teaching tool.
Running back Frank Gore was not present at practice as he is holding out for a contract extension. Despite not having talked with Gore since the lockout was lifted, Harbaugh said that he does think about Gore and his return to the team.
“I do worry about all our players,” the coach said. “I like Frank. Frank’s a 49er and I hope he comes back.”
Harbaugh noted that with starters like Gore and Alex Smith out, there is a good and bad side to it. The positive is that backups get the reps, but it hurts when key players aren’t participating in learning the new offense on the field.
Overall, Harbaugh was just glad that he was back in a football environment.
“I like being in the chaos of this,” he said of returning to the field. “It’s a lot to do — very little time to do it. Love that.”
- 7th round pick CB Curtis Holcomb sat near the locker room and watched his teammates during practice. The rookie suffered a left Achilles injury on Thursday and is out for the remainder of the year.
- Recently re-signed players QB Alex Smith, DE Ray McDonald and OL Tony Wragge watched practice but engaged with coaches throughout the day.
“I can’t wait until Thursday when I can get back onto the field with my teammtes,” McDonald said after practice. “When Thursday comes, I’m running, I’m going. I can’t wait for that.”
- The 49ers did not wear their practice jerseys for the practice. They trotted out with their gameday jerseys (sans the pads) with the offense in red and the defense in white.
- Harbaugh was very hands on with the QBs, especially with Kaepernick. He helped with snaps and instructed how to throw by demonstrating it himself.
- WR Josh Morgan took over as the top receiver in formations with WR Ted Ginn as the 2nd receiver. Kyle Williams was the 3rd receiver.
- From left to right, the starting offensive line: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Adam Snyder, Nick Howell and Anthony Davis. Harabugh noted that RG Chilo Rachal was working through things that limited him.
The defensive first unit featured Justin Smith, RIcky Jean Francois and Will Tukuafu on the line. Linebackers Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis and Parys Haralson. The defensive backs featured Shawntae Spencer and CJ Spillman/Tarell Brown at CB while the safeties were Reggie Smith and Curtis Taylor.
- In limited action, rookie CB Chris Culliver showed great closeout skills on breaking up passes.
- Harbaugh said that there was a clear benefit for those players that took part of the voluntary player-led workouts in June. He added that some players already knew what calls meant right from the get go.
- DE Justin Smith said that the new playbook hasn’t translated yet in his studies, but he’s hopeful that it will real soon.
- With WR Michael Crabtree’s foot injury, Harbaugh didn’t go into detail on the injury or the timetable for his return. He said that Crabtree is at all the meetings and that he, along with the other players, are showing up early for treatments every morning.
- When asked about possibly adding a wide receiver to help out, Harbaugh didn’t say if the team would explore that option.
- After practice, there was a lot of excitement and smiles from the players. Harbaugh waited outside the locker room and greeted each player after practice before meeting with the media.