SEASIDE, Calif. – For the last month and a half, 49ers head coach Mike Singletary had Aug. 5 circled on his calendar.
That was the day he planned to take his team away from its Santa Clara practice facility in order to give the players a change of scenery.
However, he didn't tell them until the night before. Even then, all Singletary said was to pack their bags for the day.
The details still remained a mystery.
"All we knew is that we were going somewhere else to practice," cornerback Shawntae Spencer said. "That's it."
So as the team buses traveled south, all the players could do was guess.
"On the bus ride we saw a couple cows and I was like, 'Whoa, where are we going?'" linebacker Diyral Briggs said. "We were excited about a change of scenery though."
As eager as the team was to see where it would be practicing, they knew they needed to take care of business from the moment they arrived at the Cal-State Monterey Bay campus.
And even though the weather was cold and the grass was longer than they're used to, the players had no trouble bringing the same intensity they have had throughout training camp.
"It was a pretty good practice today," Singletary said. "I think the guys came out here and responded pretty well."
Singletary knew the change of scenery would help break up the monotony of camp, but one of the biggest benefits to the players was the cooler weather.
The veterans admitted it took them a little bit longer than usual to get loose, but once they settled in, everyone enjoyed being out of the heat.
"Today we didn't even sweat," defensive end Justin Smith said. "It's huge. You don't lose all your fluids at practice and you don't lose as much strength either. It will help recharge us in the long run.
"But we still had 9-on-7 and nutcracker and all that stuff… We still worked hard."
After the offense put on an aerial display during the morning session of Wednesday's 7-on-7 drills, the defense stepped up its play for the remainder of the day and it carried over to Thursday.
The 49ers ran two team periods on the day, and the only touchdown came on a 65-yard pass from quarterback Alex Smith to Vernon Davis; the tight end beat a linebacker who was in man-coverage for the score.
A majority of the offensive plays were rushing attempts, and the defense did well in stuffing many of them near the line of scrimmage.
After practice, the team planned to spend the rest of the day in Monterey. But once again, the players were kept in the dark and didn't know the details of their afternoon.
Singletary told them they were going to eat lunch on the bay, and that was it.
But all the players knew whatever their coach had planned, it would be a productive day of training camp.
"We trust Coach and I know he has something good in store for us," safety Taylor Mays said. "I don't always like surprises, but I know we're in good hands."
Notes and QuotesWhile most of the 49ers had never been to the Monterey Bay area before, Tony Curtis felt right at home. The 6-foot-5, 251-pound tight end was born in Seaside, and when he found out where the team would be practicing Thursday he made sure to let his family know. "If you would have told me a month ago that the team would be coming down here to practice I never would have believed you," Curtis said. "It's a great opportunity for me, coming down here and seeing family and friends… I let a lot of people know (the team would be practicing in Seaside) and they told people who told more people. Whoever wanted to come could come."
Although Davis scored the only touchdown of the day, the play of the day would go to Spencer for the acrobatic interception he made during 7-on-7 drills. Quarterback David Carr threw a short, sideline pass intended for wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., but Spencer jumped the route and reached down between his legs for the pick. "I've been working on my hands this offseason, and it's about time I caught one," Spencer joked. "But we're all out here competing hard, so any time I can make a big play it's great for me and the team."
Injury updateScott McKillop left Wednesday's practice with an apparent left knee injury and the team announced Thursday that the inside linebacker tore his patellar tendon and anterior cruciate ligament.
Tight end Delanie Walker (concussion), guard David Baas (concussion), center Eric Heitmann (stinger) and T Chris Patrick (shoulder) all missed Thursday's practice.