All in all the San Francisco 49ers will be extremely pleased if every training camp practice from this point forward is undramatic as Friday morning's.
No freak injuries, no fights, no bizarre demands from Michael Crabtree's cousin.
Instead, the morning session was so eventful that just about all of the storylines had to do with events that transpired the day before.
The headline item, obviously, is the first major injury of camp. Of course it just had to come to a player, wide receiver Brandon Jones, who just happens to play the same position as Crabtree, the 10th pick out of the draft out of Texas Tech University.
Jones has what 49ers head coach Mike Singletary described as "a little bit of a fracture" of the AC joint in his right shoulder. Initially it was thought to be a sprain, a two week injury, but X-rays taken Friday morning confirmed that it was a lot more serious and that Jones will be out for eight weeks.
Jones suffered the injury while attempting to make a diving catch during a 7-on-7 drill.
While Jones wasn't mounting all that serious of a challenge to Josh Morgan for a starting job, he was head and shoulders (no pun intended) the top candidate for the receiver job, a spot that will now be open for Jason Hill, Arnaz Battle, and Dominique Zeigler to compete over.
Singletary said in his media session Friday that Jones' injury will have no influence on the negotiations with Crabtree and that he is confident in the group of receivers on hand.
On one hand, there is the temptation to believe his sincerity. After all, Michael Spurlock is an NFL-quality receiver, and right now he's running sixth on the wideout totem pole, and that's not counting Crabtree or Jones.
But playing the devil's advocate, what's Singletary supposed to say—that Jones' injury changes everything, the coaches and front office are in full panic mode and that they are prepared to offer Crabtree 10 million more dollars in his signing bonus than they were two days ago?
The only concession Singletary would make to the repercussions of Jones' fractured wing was that the team "may or may not" bring in another receiver off the street for a workout, but that's hardly an admission of concern.
We'll have to see what the following days bring with this one. *
All we know at this point is that the injury to Jones has opened the door even further for the media (particularly the national types who wouldn't know Dominique Zeigler from Dominique Wilkins) to bombard Singletary with Crabtree questions. For a coach who is desperate to just focus on the day-to-day happenings on the field, it must be getting pretty annoying.
I'm guessing that in a couple of days Singletary will want to hug the next reporter who asks him about the right tackle battle between Adam Snyder and Marvel "Veteran's Day Off" Smith.
* Postscript: Late Friday afternoon the 49ers did sign another wide receiver, Charles Francies, who was most recently on the practice squad of the New Orleans Saints last season. Francies was an undrafted free agent out of UTEP whom the Packers signed in 2006 and he appeared in seven games for that year, catching two passes for 16 yards.
To make room for Francies on the roster the team released defensive linemen Babatunde Oshinowo. Babatunde, we hardly knew ye.
The Defense Doesn't Rest
It probably wasn't a coincidence that on the morning outside linebacker Parys Haralson returned to fully practicing, the defense had their best morning of practice since the first day of camp.
Haralson and his bookend Manny Lawson terrorized quarterbacks Alex Smith and Shaun Hill all day (well, as much as anyone who isn't allowed to be touched can be terrorized, one supposes). The pressure the two linebackers brought from the edge was the major reason why neither quarterback could seemingly complete a pass over 10 yards in 11-on-11 drills.
Haralson led the team with eight sacks last season and he, Lawson, end Justin Smith, and perhaps even last year's former first round pick Kentwan Balmer will have to ratchet up the heat to compensate for a wobbly back six in coverage.
Maybe the offense just had a bad day. Left tackle Joe Staley, the guy who Haralson blew by a half dozen times this morning, is a pretty good player. After having a pretty good handle on guys like Ahmad Brooks and Marques Harris, to all of a sudden deal with a rested Haralson must have felt like he was facing Lawrence Taylor in his prime.
We'll see what tomorrow brings there.
Vernon Being Vernon
Maybe some 49ers have started to buy in to the idea that Crabtree will not be riding into town on a white horse to save them. Someone has to step up and fill the void, not just making the plays that Crabtree was supposed to make, but also to be the designated diva as well.
Vernon Davis is ready and willing to do both.
Davis gave an impromptu interview outside the locker room—sans shirt—and touched on a variety of topics.
He attributed his sparring session with Harris yesterday to "just being competitive" and reasoned that "sometimes it's just bound to happen."
He explained that he didn't feel at all guilty about being the reason that Singletary made the whole team run a dozen gassers across the width of the field, saying that, "A few guys were mad, but there'll be times when they'll be making us run." It would've been a fair point if any of the dozen reporters on hand could remember any 49er on the current roster starting a training camp fight other than Davis.
The defiant tight end even went so far as to argue that some of his teammates should've thanked him for making them run, because they could get use more conditioning work.
Finally, Davis said that he didn't think the absence of Jones would lead to more passes coming his way because offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye's playbook is already "very tight end friendly" and that Davis has already "been catching a lot of balls and it's going to continue to be that way."
Mr. Davis is, as they say in showbiz, "ready for his close-up."
Nothing new to report aside from Jones.
Fullback Moran Norris and linebacker Jay Moore returned in limited capacity, while linebacker Patrick Willis (strained ankle) and cornerback Tarell Brown (sprained toe) continue to be listed as "day-to-day."
Running back Michael Robinson was on the field in sweat pants but won't be cleared to return from his strained groin until at least the middle of next week. Left guard David Baas and his strained foot were nowhere to be seen.
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