Fresh start for Jacobs has good/bad beginning

Newcomer Taylor Jacobs didn't get many opportunities to show his stuff Wednesday morning during his first practice session with the 49ers, but when he did he made a distinct impression - both good and bad on the same play.

The Niners worked in their newest project at wide receiver slowly, but Jacobs did get a chance to shine late in practice during team drills.

The fourth-year wide receiver, acquired Monday from the Washington Redskins in a trade for cornerback Mike Rumph, got behind the 49ers' secondary and streaked down the middle of the field as quarterback Trent Dilfer sailed a pass that went some 60 yards in the air.

Jacobs caught up to it at the last second as he separated from defenders, reached for the ball over his shoulder … and then dropped the pass after Dilfer put it right on his fingertips, drawing more than a few hoots and groans from his new teammates.

"I know, I know," Jacobs said after practice. "I could have made a play on the ball and just didn't make the play. But it feels good just to be playing hard, you know, getting shots."

Jacobs figures to have a better shot at making the 49ers' roster than he had in Washington, where he'd already been saddled as a first-day draft disappointment and was running as the No. 6 receiver on a team that might just keep five.

He's in a similar situation now in San Francisco, where he'll have until Sept. 2 to make his case on whether the 49ers should keep him around to be a part of their 2006 plans. That's the day the team must cut down to a final 53-man roster, and now Jacobs is thrown into a mix that includes Jason McAddley, Otis Amey, Marcus Maxwell and Rasheed Marshall. The 49ers figure to keep two from that group on their final roster. They might just keep one. But Jacobs welcomes a new chance with a new team.

"I needed a fresh start," he said. "I don't think that for me I could go into a better situation - just being on a new team and starting over again. I know my skill is not the issue. I just need a fresh start and need to get the ball rolling my way."

Catching the ball would help. Coach Mike Nolan didn't exactly give Jacobs' debut with the team a ringing endorsement.

"I don't have much to say other than I saw him and he looked good," Nolan said. "He went deep one time. I wish he'd caught the ball, but he didn't. But he looks good. He's got fresh legs."

Jacobs never got the ball rolling in Washington because of a series of issues. A bruised pancreas stymied his rookie season, limiting Jacobs to three games at a time when he was in high regard with previous Washington coach Steve Spurrier. A strained abdomen bothered him in 2004 and a sprained big toe affected his play last year.

He started seven of the 38 games he played in Washington, but comes to San Francisco with just 30 career receptions for 315 yards. Another rap on Jacobs is that he practiced and prepared well during the week but didn't get the job done on game days, failing to show the talent he flashed in practice and also running wrong routes when the heat was on. Coaches lost confidence in him, and others believed Jacobs lost confidence in himself.

Jacobs knew that his days in Washington could be numbered - "I've had an inkling since my third year," he said - but he says he remains confident in his ability.

"Obviously, I could have done better as far as my performance or whatever," Jacobs said. "Last year, it was like I was holding on by a thread over in Washington. I knew it was going to happen eventually. But I always have a shot, regardless. I believe in my talent. My confidence is fine. I think the receiving coach here believes in me. I just told them, if I mess up, I'm going to mess up 100 miles per hour. I'm going to play fast and see how everything else works out."

The 49ers like fast. Now it's up to Jacobs to show them more.

"I think my best could be good enough to play anywhere," Jacobs said. "One thing I base myself on, I'm gong to work hard, just as hard or harder than anybody out there. If I work hard and I give all I got and left all of it on the field, at the end of the day, if my best isn't good enough, then OK, I just ain't got it. That's my thing. I worry about things I can control, which is working hard."

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