Lewis lowers the boom

As coach Dennis Erickson walked through a busy 49ers locker room after Sunday's morning practice session, he veered past rookie Keith Lewis' stall. "You got the rules, right?" Erickson declared above the noisy din. Lewis turned quickly from his chair saying, "Yes, sir." Lewis, the hard-hitting safety, earlier in the day had broken the rules of practice decorum by nearly breaking fullback Jasen Isom in half on a screen pass. That's something Lewis won't likely do again during a 49ers practice.

"Keith Lewis forgot the rules," Erickson said. "I think those other players will remind him fast."

It's a no-no to make the kind of big hit during fully-padded 11-on-11 team drills that Lewis laid on Isom, for obvious reasons. "He's got to learn that you can't do that out there, (because) you get somebody hurt," Erickson said.

Just the same, Lewis has the aggressive mentality that could cause him to slip up and do it again.

"It was just one of those things," Lewis reasoned. "You just never know when they're going to lower the boom on you, so it's like you're just trying to protect yourself at the same time."

Lewis will learn, because his teammates will make sure he does. But his ornery attitude is one of the things the Niners love about the 202-pounder's approach and disposition, and it's one of the reasons they drafted him in the sixth round this spring.

Lewis has been impressive so far during the early stages of training camp with his aggressiveness and quick reactions. After playing free safety the past two years at Oregon, the two-time All-Pac 10 second-team choice is being penciled in at strong safety behind defensive star Tony Parrish because of his ability to do damage closer to the line of scrimmage. He also figures to be busy on San Francisco's special teams, where he also starred at Oregon.

"Everybody has something about them that they're really good at," Lewis said. "Tony Parrish is an all-round player. Ronnie (Heard)'s a thinker. Everyone has something that makes them stand out. I'm an aggressive player and that's what I want to get out there, you know?"

Lewis is getting the message out there, all right. So much so, that the Niners had to reel him in a bit after his smashing practice hit.

"Yeah, he's a physical guy," Erickson said. "I'd prefer that he not do it when he did it out here. But he's a hitter."

After Sunday's morning session, that fact has been duly noted.

Niners Digest Top Stories