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49ers Put Together Best Practice

Posted Aug 8, 2011

Their first exhibition game is just days away and 49ers players like tackle Alex Boone say they’re ready for that opening test.

It’s an understandable feeling to have on a day where the team ran its most crisp practice of Jim Harbaugh’s first training camp as 49ers head coach.

Players looked to be moving faster out on the practice fields now that they’ve developed a high level of understanding through the team’s first week of training sessions.

Harbaugh himself witnessed his team’s best workout so far.

“I felt today's practice was our best practice of training camp,” Harbaugh declared. “We'll try to make tonight's meetings the best meetings of the year and see if we can't come back and be better.”

Boone, a second-year tackle, echoed the feelings of his coach.

“I definitely agree with that,” said the 6-foot-8, 300-pounder. “I think everybody was on top of their stuff today.”

Boone had to be at his best, lining up as the 49ers’ first-team left tackle with starter Joe Staley sidelined for an undisclosed reason.

Boone said he and his teammates felt even more comfortable after the first week of practice, thanks to Harbaugh’s three-hour, game-like sessions which have bred confidence throughout the locker room.

“I think with what we’ve put in so far,” Boone said, “guys have adapted so well. You look at practice and guys are flying around and they are where they need to be.”

Not only are linemen feeling prepared for exhibition games based on camp practices, perimeter players can feel the impact as well.

“Practices are long, but like Coach has said to us before, ‘We’re putting in that work now and you may feel it now, but we’ll thank him down the line,’” second-year wide receiver Kyle Williams said. “It’s a trust thing. We’re putting our eggs in his basket right now and we’re behind him.”

Both offensively and defensively, the 49ers look to be ready for the preseason opener this Friday in New Orleans. Harbaugh’s offensive system might be getting a lot of the attention with both quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick impressing fans at Monday’s open training camp practice with a number of touchdown throws, but the defense has taken noticeable strides, too.

“Both sides made plays,” Harbaugh said. “We didn't get our hands on as many balls today defensively, but the offense made some. It was a give and take and that's one thing you like to see as a head coach. You like to see the defense making plays and you like to see the offense making plays.”

Notes and Quotes

Harbaugh expects starters to play 20 snaps on Friday in New Orleans. He plans on having running back Frank Gore to get some touches as well. Overall, Harbaugh said he hopes to see “fanatical effort” from his players in the team’s preseason debut.

Perhaps no player made more defensive plays on Monday than undrafted Miami cornerback Cory Nelms, who recorded an interception, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup on the day.

Several big offensive plays took place in Santa Clara as well. Smith, the first-team quarterback, was at the helm for many of them including touchdown passes to two of his targets tight end Vernon Davis and wideout Braylon Edwards during red zone work. Smith also tossed a deep touchdown pass to wide receiver Ted Ginn during a situational drive period.

Kaepernick, the rookie second-string signal caller, ran a naked bootleg 50 yards untouched for a touchdown during 11-on-11 work. He later completed two touchdown passes in a red zone team period on back-to-back throws to tight end Delanie Walker.

Here’s what Harbaugh said of the play of his top quarterbacks: “I thought they both made plays today and executed at a pretty darn high level today. I am pleased with the way they're picking things up. Like I said before, they've really kind of mastered the overall game plan and a lot of the finer details of it and they just keep getting better at it. They're both really great guys, both really talented guys. I'm very pleased with their progressions.”

Photo of the Day

Undrafted rookie wideout Joe Hastings showed perfect concentration while hauling in this pass during individual wide receiver drills.

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