Tuesday tidbits

A ton of tidbits while stepping in from the sidelines at training camp for a closer look at the 49ers:

--- It's sometimes hard to get a handle on Ken Dorsey as he gears toward his first pro start in the Aug. 14 exhibition opener against the Raiders. There are times when he looks cool, calm and collected and appears to be a stud quarterback in the making with plenty of zip and direction on his throws. He looks like a champ. Then there are times where he scatters the ball and wobbles it toward receivers, and it makes you wonder.

--- But, as coach Dennis Erickson said, those balls still get where they're supposed to be going.

--- "He's had some (bad) passes that have slipped," Erickson said. "His balls aren't pretty. He completed a whole bunch of them that aren't pretty. But they are frickin' on the money. And they are there on time."

--- Tim Rattay's passes, in comparison, are immaculate – almost always a perfect spiral with plenty of zip on them. And they're on the money, and on time, too.

--- Rattay was held out of practice Tuesday morning for the first time during training camp, but Erickson said it was just a standard day off to give his arm a rest. "We just rested him," Erickson said. "His arm's a little sore. It had nothing to do with his groin."

--- It's not like Dorsey isn't still making progress as his reign as the first-team quarterback closes in on its latter stages. He still looks like a guy who can get it done and win, even if his throws could use some cosmetics.

--- "The thing about Ken is that from what I've seen, he's oblivious to pressure," Erickson said. "People are coming and he just lets it go. He just steps up in there and that's what made him so good in college. That's his personality."

--- That's good, because Dorsey will certainly be seeing plenty of pressure from opposing defenses whenever he's in a game. Rattay will, too, and the Niners have been spending a lot of extra time this summer working on blocking techniques to pick up blitzes throughout multiple stages of any given practice.

--- Dorsey was on top of his game Tuesday morning. One example: Brandon Lloyd ran an out route and Dorsey threw the ball before Lloyd's break, delivering it on the money. That, folks, is a play that cannot be stopped.

--- When it wasn't stopped by rapidly-progressing rookie cornerback Shawntae Spencer, who was covering Lloyd on the play, Lloyd stepped out of bounds, dropped the football a few yards from the goal line and clapped his hands. Not only is this guy a supreme catcher, he also has charisma.

--- After making rookie receiver Wendall Williams the first cut of training camp on Saturday, the Niners signed him back to the roster Tuesday, primarily because they needed somebody to catch passes with receivers Arland Bruce, Kahlil Hill and Rashaun Woods all missing practice with various ailments and P.J. Fleck (injured left thumb) and Cedrick Wilson (left hip and groin) practicing to tolerance.

--- Woods, by the way, could miss two or three more days of camp with a slight pull of his right hamstring.

--- The starting secondary of Ahmed Plummer and Mike Rumph on the corners and Tony Parrish at strong safety might be the best the Niners have had in several seasons, no matter who winds up at free safety.

--- In his third season, Rumph looks pretty comfortable now that the starting position at right cornerback is all his.

--- But he says he takes a different mentality with him onto the field. "I have to have the mind frame that I'm fighting for my position at all times," Rumph said. "That's what keeps me above water. At the same time, it's always good to see what I did last year and build upon it. That's the love of the game. I'm just having fun trying to get better."

--- Julian Peterson obviously is missing a lot of instruction and installation of the new defensive system during his holdout, but Rumph says not to expect it to hurt the All-Pro too much. "He's missing a little bit, but Julian is one of those players who could make plays even if he didn't know the defense," Rumph said. "That's just the kind of player he is."

--- More Rumph on Peterson: "With or without him, we have to play football, and that's what it comes down to. But we really, really want him to be here. He does make us better and I can vouch for that. Sometimes, when both of us are blitzing, I let him go in there first because I know that he's going to cause a fumble so I can try and pick it up. That's how you know someone is a playmaker. I'm not trying to beat Julian to the quarterback. I'll let him cause the fumble."

--- Peterson, by the way, probably won't make it to the training camp portion of summer training, but he will show up at some point this year. At least, that's what he says. Peterson told a national radio show on Monday that, "I don't plan to sit out the season. I think that in the worst-case scenario, I'll have to sign the franchise tag. What we're trying to work on is that if I do so happen to sign this franchise tag (a one-year tender off of $6.073 million), we would work out a long-term deal during the season."

--- What the Peterson stalemate comes down to, obviously, is money. He wants a lot of it. The stud linebacker also said during that radio interview, "After you worked so hard to build yourself up and become an elite player, you just want to get your proper value; that's all I really want. I love my teammates, love the coach, love the franchise. I just wanted to get the proper value."

--- Said Niners general manager Terry Donahue on Tuesday morning: "I was happy his comments were what they were, in the sense that we want Julian here. He's a big-time player and we want him here. So I was happy to hear that he plans on at least playing this season. I think most guys that are on the franchise tag will play this season."

--- Donahue also said that, if Peterson does sign the franchise tender, the Niners would be "open-minded" to Peterson's idea of working out a long-term deal during the season.

--- Derek Smith won't make anybody forget Peterson, but he certainly is showing that he can handle the job at left outside linebacker in Peterson's place.

--- Is Cedrick Wilson under-rated? Erickson thinks so. And he may be right. All Wilson does is get open and catch every pass that comes his way. It's difficult to keep a guy like that out of the lineup.

--- "I mean, Ced is Ced," Erickson said. "He made a lot of plays for us last year, and he's making plays now. He understands what's going on. You play him any place, but particularly when you play him inside in the slot, he makes some things happen because he's got great quickness and suddenness."

--- Erickson says rookie receivers Rashaun Woods and Derrick Hamilton are getting better all the time, but the improvement is a little difficult to see with Hamilton when he keeps dropping passes.

--- And also dropping punts after circling underneath them.

--- By the looks of things so far, that punt returner role is almost certainly going to the guy who handled it last year – Jimmy Williams – with Wilson in reserve.

--- Center Brock Gutierrez must feel like part of the first-team offense, since he's spending so much time there with Jeremy Newberry only practicing once a day.

--- But we have no problem with Newberry taking it easy in training camp. Save that stud for the action that matters.

--- Is Jamal Robertson the most elusive player on the Niners? We think maybe so.

--- Everybody has seen by now that rookie safety Keith Lewis likes to hit, and he can do it with ferocity. But the kid also is showing some coverage skills and making plays on the ball.

--- Cody Pickett has some zing on his passes. He might rank right up there with Rattay.

--- NFL Europe star Adam Herzing has the size and hands to make this team, but it will be difficult for him with the way all the other young talent at receiver is performing.

--- Ronnie Heard certainly is heady. It's easy to see what the Niners like so much about the fifth-year safety's smarts.

--- When starting tight end Eric Johnson suffered a dislocated thumb and torn ligament over the weekend, Erickson scoffed at the notion he'd consider Brian Jennings as a possibility to provide emergency depth at the position. "Are you kidding me?" Erickson said. "We just gave him some money to snap. I wouldn't play him at tight end. He likes to go in skeleton where he can catch the ball and think he's a really good receiver. He'll let you know. But he's just too valuable to us as a snapper. So you don't even want to get him involved. You can't do that."

--- How's the second training camp under Erickson going? Let's hear it from Pro Bowl fullback Fred Beasley: "It's going good," he said. "You can tell that everything is a lot more in sync because of the (spring) minicamps. (Coaches) did a good job of allowing us to study and do what we have to do to come into training camp and already be ahead. Now the offense is clicking well and picking up things very well."

--- And the defense, too, for that matter. "I think both sides are looking good," Rattay said. "I don't think that one side is ahead of the other. It's a good mix right now. Guys are flying around, making plays."

And, in the grand scheme of things, the Niners still are only getting started.


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