Scrimmage notebook: Allen/Davis get in scrap

The 49ers were fighting mad Saturday afternoon when their first-team offense couldn't get into the end zone on the opening series of an intra-squad scrimmage at the team's Santa Clara training facility.

Offensive guard Larry Allen and tight end Vernon got in each other's faces during an altercation that required several coaches and players to pull the two players apart and keep them apart.

The fracas took place after the offense had come off the field when its opening drive was stalled after several plays by rookie Jay Moore's diving interception of an Alex Smith pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

Neither player was available for comment about the incident afterward, but coach Mike Nolan said it was a result of the team's high desire to succeed and he took it as a positive instead of a negative.

"If you're fighting about something, it means something to you, and that is really important," Nolan said. "A lot of times, you will find teams where it is all warm and fuzzy all the time. Those teams typically struggle to win games because something is not important to them.

"We didn't score on that first drive, like our offense wanted to. I know that was the frustration of all 11 guys coming off the field. They were disappointed, and so when they were trying to motivate each other, some of them take motivation a different way. I think somebody didn't like getting called out. The thing that I like about it is that it has to be important to you to fight about something. So, you take the good with the bad."

It took several minutes to cool down both players. According to a team spokesman, Allen, an 11-time Pro Bowler, eventually shook hands with Davis, the team's 2006 first-round draft pick who has been one of San Francisco's top offensive performers in camp.

"It was nothing, just part of the game," said 14th-year veteran Bryant Young, who was held out of the scrimmage and was on the sideline to witness the incident. "It was a heat-of-the-battle thing, not a big deal. We all get in scuffles now and then. That happens. I've got in a few scuffles myself. We all want to do well in this game and emotions fly high. You just try to control them the best you can."

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Tully Banta-Cain flashed into the quarterback's face to break up a play, then whooped and hollered toward the bleachers, where a capacity crowd of 4,000 whooped and hollered back.

Nate Clements leaped in front of receiver Ashley Lelie to make a dazzling interception, then danced and pranced toward the stands, waving his arms demonstratively while letting out his own exclamation of joy.

The two vocal leaders are the new tone-setters for the 49ers, and both were making big plays while letting the emotion flow during Saturday's scrimmage.

Signed to lucrative free-agent contracts in March, Clements and Banta-Cain have been two of the team's top standouts during the first week of training camp, and that carried over to the scrimmage that culminated the team's first stage of summer camp.

"We were brought here expected to make some kind of impact on this defense, and we look to ourselves to take the onus to do that," Banta-Cain said after Saturday's action. "As a defense, it gives you energy when guys are kind of jazzed up and running around making plays and getting the crowd into it. It sends a message and has a chain effect."

Banta-Cain, expected to be the team's top pass rusher this season, was a terror on the edge throughout the competition. By one estimate, he was in position to make sacks six times before plays where whistled dead to protect quarterbacks. Clements was a typical presence in the secondary, where he has locked down on receivers since joining the team.

"Those guys are making plays, and anytime you make plays, that usually inspires people," Nolan said. "It was a very spirited scrimmage and guys were pretty into it and they were competing. At this point, I'm looking at the total effort from the first week of training camp, and I think it's been pretty good."

Banta-Cain said that kind effort will only increase as the 49ers take it upon themselves to push each other to get better to reach their lofty goals for the upcoming season.

"It's competition out here," he said. "That crowd's watching you and you want to put on a show and do your job. It's all business out here but it's a game we love and we're having fun playing it. I think we're jelling and we're starting to see what we can do as a team. We want to get better every day and we're not going to get complacent on what we're doing out there. We're going to hone in on what we've got to do to get better every day."

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The 49ers' new coordinators on each side of the football we're calling plays in a game situation for the first time Saturday.

Offensive coordinator Jim Hostler and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky – both first-timers in their roles at the NFL level – were on the sideline calling the game while Nolan was on the field overseeing the scrimmage and interacting with the players.

"Not only was the scrimmage important from the players' standpoint, but from a coaches' standpoint, I wanted to get Jim and Greg both in as many different situations as I could get," Nolan said. "I'm confident they will both evaluate their calls. That's a good thing. They even will talk to one another and say, ‘This is what you down there, is this a good play against you?' or whatever it might be."

Nolan said he will experiment during the preseason with having each of his coordinators call two games from the sidelines and two from the coach's box upstairs.

"As a coordinator for many years, I always felt the coordinator's best position is in the box," Nolan said. "But it's also important to recognize where your staff's strengths and weaknesses are. We'll end up doing what's best for our squad and our coaching staff."

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--- DT Bryant Young (back), OT Tavares Washington (knee) and RB Frank Gore (hand) were held out of the scrimmage due to injuries.

--- LB Jeff Ulbrich and OT Jonas Jennings also were held out. Jennings is resting a shoulder injury that plagued him last season, while Ulbrich is resting after being dazed by a hit during Friday's morning practice.

--- OT Patrick Estes suffered a knee and ankle injury towards the end of the scrimmage and his condition will be updated Sunday.

--- The 49ers get their first off day of training camp Sunday and resume two-a-day practices on Monday in preparation for their Aug. 13 preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.


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