The 49ers defense had themselves a day on Wednesday. Five interceptions against the Oakland Raiders offense will certainly do that.
The first of two practices at the Raiders training camp facility was more one-sided than a Mike Tyson fight in his heyday.
"The guys performed in a winning fashion today and they made some plays," defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. "I think they were just playing their techniques and they started having fun with it."
Nate Clements landed the first body shot in the opening 7-on-7 period of practice when he intercepted a tipped JaMarcus Russell pass. But Clements was just getting warmed up; he finished the day with three interceptions.
"We played with a lot of intensity. It was a level our opponent couldn't match," Clements said. "It was one of the best practices I've ever been a part of. We were in the zone!"
After the opening 7-on-7 period, things escalated as the 49ers defense intercepted Russell's first two passes of the 11-on-11 red zone period. Clements came up with the first takeaway, followed by rookie outside linebacker Diyral Briggs.
"That's the best thing that's happened to me all of camp!" Briggs said with a huge smile. "I'm just happy I was able to show my hands!"
Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was responsible for the other two interceptions, which Dre' Bly and Clements came up with.
"I've never seen anything like it in my 10 years (in the NFL)," Bly said. "To dominate practice like we did, I've never seen it in my life!"
Bly said trash talking by Raiders wideouts during one-on-one work fueled the fire of the 49ers secondary to let their play do their talking for them.
"Anytime you're out there competing, when guys mouth off, that's going to motivate guys. And that's what happened today," Bly said. "It jump started practice and it got us fired up. That just enhanced our tempo and it made us play at a high level."
But the 49ers know that the Raiders will look to come up off the canvas in Wednesday's second practice and that their own play needs to be consistent.
"Now we have to come out for the next practice and finish it off," Briggs said. "It's how you finish, not how you start."
Morning Practice Notes
During individual drills, the inside linebackers were working on their pass drops. Once they caught the ball thrown in their direction by inside linebackers coach Vantz Singletary, Joe Staley and Takeo Spikes elected to dunk the football over the goalposts. When it was Jeff Ulbrich's turn, the grizzled vet elected to take a jump shot instead.
Another interesting sight worth noting happened during the special teams period. Both Raiders tight end Zach Miller and 49ers tight end Vernon Davis were working on their hands by catching passes on opposite sides of the field. Looks like both Bay Area tight ends have the same kind of work ethic.
While the defense stole the show, the 49ers offense was able to make some plays of their own. The best of the morning practice occurred when Isaac Bruce beat Raiders cornerback John Bowie on a skinny post. Bruce did a great job of reaching out to catch Shaun Hill's pass by the back end of the football.
Hill later found Delanie Walker on back-to-back plays for touchdowns during the 49ers red zone team period.