49ers' offense still playing catch-upAugust 3 - The Sports Xchange
The 49ers spent the bulk of the offseason upgrading the personnel on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense has continued to dominate during the first week of training camp practices.
Quarterback Alex Smith chalked some of the obvious disparity up to facing one of the league's top defenses, but admitted his unit must start executing better as a whole.
It has been a bit of a setback after the initial buzz of having wide receivers Randy Moss
"Obviously, I feel like everybody on offense has really zoned in on the last two days and made a lot of emphasis of it, and it hasn't been good enough," Smith said. "Prior to that, I feel like we got off to a good start. In the passing game especially; been doing some good things."
Those things haven't included wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who has yet to play in a preseason game during his career and has missed the past week of training camp with a right leg injury.
"The thing I feel for Michael, I know he's feeling too, is that he came in in such great shape." Coach Jim Harbaugh said. "(He) looked fantastic and we feel like we'll get him back soon and we can pick right up. I don't think this is going to be a major bump in the road. I think it's going to be a minor one."
With Crabtree out, the defensive backs have taken turns working against Randy Moss.
"It's been just good work, sharpening, straightening, using it to get better," Harbaugh said. "I think that's a great asset for our team to have that on both sides of the ball."
Meanwhile, rookie A.J. Jenkins has appeared to struggle to adjust to the speed of the NFL. The offseason program was particularly difficult on Jenkins, but the first-round pick out of Illinois is making strides as he prepares for his first preseason action.
"I think he's in a great place, a great place to just steadily keep improving," Smith said. "I think he's going to be just fine. No question about his talent. I think the big thing obviously is the playbook size is just so much different than the college level, run and pass, and just continuing to learn it and the details of it."
--Left guard Mike Iupati was excused from Friday's practice with his wife, Ashley, due to give birth to the couple's first child during the day.
Newly-signed Leonard Davis worked with the first team in his place.
"(Davis is) working extremely hard to get up to speed. He is right on track and done that," Harbaugh said. "I think that's a product of being a veteran, being somebody who has been in systems and knows the game. He's a physical presence. Probably the largest man I've ever stood toe-to-toe and knee-to-knee with in my entire life is Leonard Davis."
--A big topic of conversation in 49ers camp has been the NFL's improved on-field communication system between coaches and quarterbacks. Smith noticeably struggled at times last year trying to hear calls coming in from the coaches in several games.
"It'd even happen at home sometimes. It just seemed like it was a touchy deal. Go in and out," Smith said. "For sure on the road it seemed like it would happen more often, but it would happen at home too. You expect more when you come in as a rookie, you're thinking this is going to be some crazy high-tech stuff and then you actually look in the helmet and it's not. You've got like AAA batteries sitting in there."