The minicamp wrap

Seen and heard here, there and everywhere at the 49ers' three-day, full-squad spring minicamp, which concluded Sunday at team headquarters:

--- Alex Smith, the quarterback who will take the 49ers where they're going, turned 22 on Sunday. The Niners can only hope that means something.

--- Smith wasn't consistently impressing anybody with the way he was throwing the ball to begin his second year with the team.

--- But when he gives those flashes of supreme talent and presence, it almost all seems OK.

--- Boy, is Larry Allen big.

--- But it just didn't seem quite right to see No. 71 adorned to his chest. He has worn No. 73 throughout his Hall of Fame-destined career, but that number has been retired in honor of the greatest 49ers lineman of them all, Leo Nomellini.

--- Still stoic after all these years: Bryant Young, looking better than ever.

--- Contrary to the insistence of some writers, Young said he didn't really give much thought about retirement before returning for his 13th NFL season. "You guys were flirting with it for me," he said.

--- It didn't take top draftee Vernon Davis long to show that he's no ordinary tight end. Not only did the rookie get behind safety Keith Lewis on a post pattern, but he vaulted into the air and took the ball away from the veteran once it arrived.

--- Lewis threw his arms in frustration after getting beat by the new big man on campus. Get ready to see a lot of that from 49ers opponents before Davis is done.

--- Davis, split out wide when the offense comes to the line. You'll be seeing a lot of that, too.

--- And safeties will have to cover him when he's out there, which isn't a good thing for those unfortunate defenders. Davis put a move on newcomer Chad Williams on a slant route that left the veteran safety frozen in his tracks.

--- Williams ran with the first-team defense as the Niners held out Tony Parrish, but he needs to get in better shape if he has any hopes of remaining there when Parrish returns. In Baltimore, where Williams played the past four seasons, 49ers coach Mike Nolan said they used to call Williams "Pound for Pound," because he was pound-for-pound one of the team's best defensive players. "I told him (Saturday), ‘You're Pound for Pound, except for the 10 that are in excess.' Those 10 we can do without. He needs to drop a few pounds."

--- Sunday's final practice featured Davis getting into a little tussle with fifth-round pick Parys Haralson, who was known for being a "mean" player in college. "That was friendly fire," Nolan quipped. This rookie class is not only bringing talent, it's bringing toughness and attitude.

--- The only thing that appears to be missing in the Davis package is a few more inches of height.

--- Ditto Haralson. If only he could grow a few inches, too.

--- For the first offensive play of team drills at the first minicamp practice, the 49ers came out in a two-tight end set.

--- And that first play ended with a screen pass to Maurice Hicks, who handled the first-team tailback duties with Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore both being brought along slowly following their offseason surgeries.

--- Expect to see a lot of one-back sets with multiple receivers and tight ends in Norv Turner's offense.

--- Also expect to see a lot of long bombs down the field. And a lot of overthrown passes.

--- Turner may bleed 49er red now, but he was decked out this weekend in the colors of the team he coached not so long ago across the San Francisco Bay.

--- Running backs coach Bishop Harris didn't get along with deposed fullback Fred Beasley, but he seems to be doing just fine with Barlow and Gore.

--- Michael Robinson has some get up and go to match his granite-like physique.

--- Jeremy Newberry and Jonas Jennings watched in the background as the offensive line group chugged through individual drills. Jennings will be back at full strength from his surgery for the start of training camp, but you've got to wonder if Newberry ever will be.

--- Eleventh-year vet Walt Harris begins the spring as the starting cornerback opposite Shawntae Spencer. We have this feeling he might not want to get too comfortable.

--- Maybe the third time will be the charm for Antonio Bryant, just 25 years old and already on his third NFL team. The 49ers' new starting split end wasn't letting any footballs thrown his way touch the ground.

--- Bryant's got some pretty nifty moves, too, to go with that elite speed.

--- One thing's for sure: He's in a whole different football universe than the last receiver to wear No. 81 for the 49ers.

--- That's one way of saying nobody missed Rashaun Woods over the weekend. Nobody mentioned him, either. He's already a memory that never was on this team.

--- At first glance, Bryant looks like a considerable upgrade over the man he's replacing in the lineup, Brandon Lloyd.

--- It appears clear that Davis and Bryant are the team's top two receiving targets, not necessarily in that order.

--- Trent Dilfer said he has "always dreamed about" playing for the 49ers, even though in the team's perfect dream he will never have to play a snap.

--- But you have to appreciate Dilfer's forthright attitude, coming in as a willing mentor to San Francisco's young quarterback and conceding that Smith's the undisputed starter on this team, even though deep inside you know Dilfer still feel's like he's a starter in this league. "Alex Smith is the starting quarterback here, I understand that," Dilfer said. "You do what ever it takes to win football games. It always takes sacrifice and I'm prepared to do that. I will come in here and I will perform to the best of my ability. I will work my tail off like I always have and by doing that, that will be mentoring Alex in itself." --- A Mike Nolan guy? We think so.

--- Marcus Maxwell looks as big and athletic as ever, but he still has trouble concentrating on the football.

--- Chris Hetherington doesn't blow anybody's socks off, but for what he's being asked to do as the starting fullback on a team moving to an offense featuring a lot of one-back sets, he's a nice fit for the role.

--- Isaac "Ice Man" Sopoaga has added some stone-cold speed at nose tackle.

--- Ronnie Fields, after his redshirt rookie season, is getting some time at defensive end, where you'll also see Anthony Adams making a few cameos to get Sopoaga on the field more often.

--- One young guy who's job really, really looks in jeopardy, and it's only May: Rasheed Marshall.

--- Marshall was the daily recipient of Jerry Sullivan tongue-lashings after dropping passes and running ambiguous routes. And, on the first punt to come his way in minicamp, Marshall dropped it.

--- Rookie Brandon Williams caught his.

--- Williams, in fact, looks like the real deal in the return game. His hands stick to the football, he has this effective way of making basket catches of somersaulting punts, and he's already into his first step down the field as the ball gets tucked away.

--- The 49ers have Arnaz Battle back there fielding punts, too, just in case.

--- Manny Lawson is no Julian Peterson, but there won't be any drop off in speed there.

--- Lawson patterns his game after Jason Taylor, but he's going after the standards set by Derrick Burgess, who led the NFL in sacks last year for the cross-bay Oakland Raiders. "I'm hoping to take that away from him," Lawson said.

--- The 49ers are trying to make an H-back out of sixth-rounder Delanie Walker, but you can tell he's still thinking and playing like a wide receiver.

--- Terry Jones isn't a bad complementary veteran, but he's in trouble at tight end. Unless Eric Johnson is instead.

--- With a logjam at wide receiver, every single dropped pass seems to count, and there were a lot of those the past three days.

--- It doesn't appear that the 49ers plan on Ben Emanuel – who started the final seven games at strong safety last year as a rookie – being in the mix for a starting spot this year.

--- Sixth-round pick Melvin Oliver has the size and apparently some skills to fill an open roster spot at defensive end. But does he have the heart and desire?

--- Now the 49ers scatter in manifold directions, most of them to return to team headquarters at the end of this month for the start of organized team activities, which run through the middle of June. Then it's off for the summer until players report back to Santa Clara on July 27. Training camp practices begin July 28.

--- Nolan likes what he saw in the first assemblage of his second team in San Francisco, but he's saving his ado for later. "We had a good three days of minicamp," he said. "But we're still on the side of trying to catch the pack a little bit, so to speak. I know we're moving in the right direction, but I want to take it from 20 miles an hour to about 50 if I can. I feel a lot better about this team, but I don't want to get too excited. The guys are out here running around in their underwear. As soon as you put the pads on, it's a whole new game."

--- Parting thought: It's all on Alex. The 49ers' 2006 season, that is. You only need one spring minicamp to see that.


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