On a San Francisco 49ers training camp day that was defense-heavy in the highlight department, Rashard Robinson was one of the most impressive players on the field.
Thursday's camp session saw the fourth-round draft pick intercept a pass and record multiple pass breakups during a two-hour span. Robinson later explained to reporters that an uncommon piece of practice equipment has enhanced his development.
Miniature boxing gloves.
Yes, you read that correctly.
San Francisco's defensive coaches have made use of the unique teaching tool to help players avoid holding wide receivers.
Count Robinson as one of the main beneficiaries from the practice method.
"It helps me a lot," he said. "(It helps me) stop shooting my hands so much and using my feet more because you can't really get a grasp in. Once you get a quick punch in with the boxing gloves, you have to get your feet moving. If not, the receivers will run right past you."
Robinson said the coaches alternate who wears the boxing gloves in practice. For Robinson, it was his turn to put them on during 1-on-1 drills.
With a refined technique, Robinson has excelled in the first four camp sessions of 2016.
"The confidence is going to continue to grow," he said. "(I) just have to stay hungry and humble."
It also helps that the self-described, "rangy dude," is playing in a press-man scheme under coordinator Jim O'Neil. The 49ers defensive play-caller also wants his players to ball-hawk any chance they get.
His words of advice to the defensive backs?
"Be aggressive when it comes to the ball," Robinson said. "If (a receiver) has it, take it away from him. We want the ball. We don't want anybody else with the ball. We're a real selfish defense."
NaVorro Bowman's four-year extension was well received by teammates in the 49ers locker room.
The star linebacker told the media that his new contract, which lasts until 2022, serves as positive reinforcement to San Francisco's current roster.
"You basically have to crawl before you can walk and understand the guys that do make the big money in this league work hard and had to wait their time to get to that point," Bowman said. "It's about motivating guys. Several guys walked up to me and said this is motivation for them."
Bowman also said he appreciated the 49ers for re-doing his contract with three years left on his current deal.
"I knew it wasn't a popular thing to do with three years left," Bowman began, "but it's basically about being fair and how good of an organization they are and honorable to their players and the work I put in."
Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins took his turn speaking at the pre-practice podium.
The new OC explained his viewpoint of the team's current quarterback battle between Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. When asked how Kaepernick has fared after missing the majority of the offseason program, Modkins was quick to applaud the sixth-year pro. Modkins also shared his views on the competition.
"Kap has done a good job," Modkins said. "He was very visible. He was around here this spring. He did all he could do. He's done a good job with what we've asked him to do so far. The competition's kind of really just getting started. I've seen Kap from afar for a long time. He's a good player, and I think he's right on track. I think both those guys are really competing. They're both doing a good job, so we'll just kind of see how it goes, and we'll probably know more once the live bullets start going in preseason."
Modkins went on to say that both quarterbacks have skills that fit in nicely with the 49ers offensive schemes.
"Once we get into preseason games I think things will show more," the OC said.
Modkins was later asked about his wide receiver depth. The veteran coach explained that he's encouraged by the group of pass-catchers.
"Young is not necessarily bad," Modkins said of the Torrey Smith-led receiving corps. "Young is good, and I think each individual is different, but I think in general, around years two-three you just start to see things happen for a wide receiver group in particular. I'm excited about the youth in the group, and I think all those guys are competing and are doing a good job."
Lastly, Modkins' most intriguing quote happened to be on third-year running back Pierre Garçon.
"He's a big guy that can run. He has really good lateral agility. I'm excited about what Carlos will do in this offense. I think he's got a chance to be really special. I think a lot of Carlos."