Plays were being made left and right by both sides of the ball at the 49ers training camp practice on Sunday. But two players seemed to be making more of them than anyone else.
It was tight end Vernon Davis and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks who were the ones constantly around the ball.
Davis hauled in more passes than any other receiver and Brooks showed his ability to close in on ball carriers on the perimeter.
"Practice was good today," Davis said after he stepped off the field. "We got a lot accomplished. We accomplished a lot as a team. We got better."
As a major part of the team, Davis continues to excel at training camp under new offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. In Raye's offense, Davis has commonly been used for short and intermediate routes where he takes advantage of his 6-3 frame and receiver-like speed to find open areas of space.
"I do what I'm told to do. If you do what you're told to do, then things will happen for you," he said. "If there is a play where I have an option route, then I read the defense. If I'm supposed to scream down the field, I'm screaming down the field. I just run and move around and make plays."
Davis' relentless work ethic has also helped him become an improved pass target.
Throughout his career, he has utilized a jugs machine to catch passes at the end of practices, during individual workouts or whenever he has time.
"It helps me a lot. That's something I do all the time, all year round," he said. "It keeps your hands and your eyes on the ball at all times."
Since he came into the league as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Davis has been intently focused on becoming an elite tight end. While he has developed into one of the most explosive players at his position, Davis is still waiting for that breakthrough season that will earn him league-wide recognition.
Two years ago he caught 52 passes and likely figured he would be in the 50-catch range for the rest of his career. But after a season of being utilized as more of a pass blocker than a pass catcher, Davis is still waiting for that dream season.
But he's not getting ahead of himself.
"My thing is taking it one day at a time, one game at a time. You never know what will happen. As long as I do what I got to do, I'm going to excel and I'm going to do well at it," Davis said.
As for the next bunch of days at camp, Davis wants to win every individual play.
"I want to dominate my opponent," he said. "That's all I've got to do right now. Skill-wise and technique, I'm pretty much where I need to be. My thing is to keep it going out and just dominate. I try to dominate every day."
As Davis was dictating where many of the passes were being thrown on Sunday, Brooks was usually in the vicinity as he was all over the field too.
With starting outside linebacker Parys Haralson day-to-day with a hip flexor injury, Brooks seized the opportunity. In the process, he flashed a lot of the tools that led general manager Scot McCloughan to sign him prior to the start of last season.
Brooks was only on the active roster for one game with the 49ers and did not play. But, the lack of playing time never deterred his confidence in his abilities.
On Sunday, Brooks clearly showed that his 6-3, 259-pound body could come in quite handy this season.
"It's unfortunate that Parys went down but he'll be back," Brooks said. "I'm just trying to get better and make sure the team gets better every day."
Brooks showed his improvement by chasing down Frank Gore on sweep runs to the outside. He also flashed some impressive pass-rushing moves during one-on-one drills with the offensive line, even once getting the best of tackle Joe Staley.
"That's something that I haven't really perfected," Brooks revealed. "So, every day I just try to get better against the offensive line. I've been working double time with the defensive line than I was last year. So being in the meeting room with the defensive line last has definitely helped me out."
On one particular play, Brooks rushed up the right edge against Staley, and then naturally spun to his right where he accidently bumped into quarterback Shaun Hill in the pocket.
At a game that would have been an amazing play, but at a training camp practice, it's not the best sight to see. Although the result was not what the coaches were looking for, Brooks displayed natural pass-rushing instincts.
"I try not to hurt my teammates. I try to keep everybody healthy," he said. "This is what football's about; going out there and showing what you have."
Brooks will continue to show what he has at camp as he makes the most of his opportunities.
His next chance will be bright and early on Monday morning, when the 49ers hit the field for the first of two practices.
During 7-on-7 work, second-year wideout Josh Morgan came down with a terrific one-handed reception on a deep ball thrown by Alex Smith. Starting free safety Dashon Goldson was draped all over Morgan, but somehow the emerging receiver was able to cradle in the pass with only his right arm.
Without a doubt, it was the best play of training camp so far.
A play from the 11-on-11 session that also stood out was a down the field catch by versatile running back Michael Robinson. The do-it-all back lined up in the backfield as a fullback at the start of the play, then motioned out and lined up as the sole receiver on the left side. Across from Robinson was rookie free safety Curtis Taylor, who made the mistake of biting on Robinson's fake slant route. After he faked inwards, Robinson darted back up the field and adjusted nicely to Smith's pass down the left sideline.
Coach Singletary made sure all the players out of the play stood 10 yards behind the offense. He did so by instructing Parys Haralson to make sure everyone stood behind the line. On one occasion, Singletary saw that Kentwan Balmer was slightly over the line. He looked around and called out for Haralson while pointing over at Balmer's foot that was over the line. Haralson quickly came over and motioned for everyone to move back. Singletary instantly had an ear-to-ear grin on his face as he enjoyed having fun with one of his linebackers.
Fullback Moran Norris returned to the team late on Sunday towards the end of practice after missing time due to personal reasons. He was in street clothes for the remainder of practice as he watched with teammates.
At the end of the day, several offensive linemen like David Baas, Adam Snyder and Alex Boone were enjoying themselves in the cold tubs outside the team locker room. They did so by playing a game of bocce ball with ice cubes from the tub.