The beginning of August means one thing: the start of NFL training camps. Our collective sports minds keep an eye on baseball down the stretch but all the focus is now on the NFL, fantasy football drafts and the all important date of the first NFL Sunday of the season, September 12.
The 49ers started Camp Singletary on July 30 and now are in their two-a-days. Since I was gone on vacation for the start here is a recap of the first days of practice. I will be posting a training camp recap of every practice.
Practice 1, July 31:
The 49ers started a day early with the first training camp practice that was not on the schedule. Head coach Mike Singletary wanted to go through the plays the team installed the previous evening. The almost two hour practice had Niner players in shells, aka no pads. Singletary is an impatient man which here is a good thing. What better way to start training camp then to have the first practice start ahead of schedule. Even with the familiarity of Jimmy Raye’s offense, almost all the starting offensive players from last season returned, getting as many reps in as possible will only help Alex Smith and company.
Injuries: No injuries were reported as it was a light practice. However as many of you know nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin did not show up for training camp. The 49ers have only 79 players on the practice roster even though the team is allowed to have 80 players. Of course the last spot is being held for Franklin whenever it is that he signs his one-year tender and shows up to camp. One good thing is that Singletary said he is not concerned about Franklin keeping in shape saying he has a great work ethic.
Practice 2 (A.M.), August 1:
Sunday’s practice was the first one in pads and featured the first session of the infamous nutcracker drill. In an effort to avoid lower-body injuries that made the drill famous players can only hit each other for three seconds. The drill included all lineman, linebackers, fullbacks and tight ends. Even though the risk of injury in the drill is high I love it and I am happy Singletary brought it back. The drill instills the smash mouth football Singletary wants his team to be known for and builds up the toughness to accomplish his vision. The practice also featured 11-on-11 drills between the offense and defense and 9-on-7 run drills.
Injuries: Left guard David Baas suffered a mild concussion during a 1-on-1 pass rush drill. He did not return to practice. With Baas hurt it allowed rookie guard Mike Iupati to get some reps with the first-team.
Practice 3 (P.M.), August 1:
The 49er Faithful was able to get their first glimpse of the team during training camp in the afternoon practice. The padded, two-hour practice again featured the nutcracker drill with Mike Iupati, Isaac Spogoaga and Delanie Walker as some of the standouts.
Singletary had running backs tackled by defensive players onto a landing pit. The drill will help defensive players develop the right tackling technique. The defense did well at tackling throughout last season however there were plays in which defenders decided to go for the strip rather than the tackle. The 11-on-11 drill had 34 plays.
Injuries: No new injuries. David Baas did not practice after sustaining a concussion in the morning practice.
Practice 4 (A.M.), August 3:
Coach Singletary extended the morning practice from the previous day from two to three hours with players in full pads. Singletary changed up the nutcracker drill with two offensive players lined up against two defensive players. All previous nutcracker drills featured players going 1-on-1. The best matchup featured the Freak, Patrick Willis going up against rookie Mike Iupati. The defense continued to dominate the offense in the 11-on-11 session. This not a sign of the defense being more prepared than the offensive as Singletary said that this early in camp the defense is usually ahead of the offense.
Injuries: David Baas missed his second straight practice with a mild concussion. With Baas out it allowed guard Mike Iupati to continue to get more reps with the first-team. Tackle Joe Staley did not practice however it was not known why he did not participate. Tackle Barry Sims took over for Staley.
Practice 5 (P.M.), August 3:
The afternoon practice on day four saw a less intense session of the nutcracker drill. Singletary might be limiting the intensity of the nutcracker every other day to make sure no one gets seriously injured. I think this is wise as there is sure to be an injury at some point at Camp Singletary during the drill. Most of the work was centered on the 11-on-11 drills which featured 30 plays.
Injuries: Right guard and expected starter Chilo Rachal collapsed on the field about an hour after practice started. He was in a 1-on-1 pass blocking drill and shortly after was on ground. It was reported he did not move for several minutes but was carted off the field sitting up. He suffered from dehydration. Tony Wragge took over for Rachal at right guard for the remainder of the practice. Wragge has been taking snaps at center and will most likely backup starter Eric Heitmann. Rookie tight end Nate Byham suffered an ankle strain. David Baas missed his third straight practice and Joe Staley missed his second straight.