49ers camp summary (84) -- Day of the back-ups


49ers camp summary (84) -- Day of the back-ups

Summary: There was more mixing of the two's and three's in with the starters. The veteran regulars had a few big plays during various 11-on-11 situations. Frank Gore and Brandon Jacobs each had solid runs up the middle. Vernon Davis had several nice grabs on crossing routes. Ahmad Brooks came down with an interception and Justin Smith had a called sack. But the bigger plays were made by a handful of back-ups. Demarcus Dobbs had a great touchdown reception in the back right corner of the end zone in a short goal-line situation over the coverage of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Cornerback Anthony Mosely broke up a would be touchdown reception by Randy Moss knocking the ball out of Moss' hands on his way down in the back of the end zone in the same drill. Cornerback Perrish Cox and defensive lineman Ian Williams had several good plays throughout practice as well.

Injury report: Receiver Michael Crabtree (right leg) missed his seventh consecutive day of practice. He came out onto one of the main fields halfway through Saturday night's session. He worked with head strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama for about an hour. Typically, he has been working on a side field. Receiver Joe Hastings (right leg) and cornerback Curtis Holcomb have yet to return to practice either and continued their work on a side field. Tight end Nate Byham was out for a a second day. Offensive lineman Jason Slowey was at the facility earlier in the day but was not on the field for practice. Running back Jewel Hampton (foot) is on the non-football injury list, while outside linebacker Darius Fleming (knee) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Offensive play of the day: The Dobbs touchdown reception was impressive, but an improvisational play between Alex Smith and Frank Gore stands out. Under pressure from Ahmad Brooks, Smith quickly saw that Gore was open in the right flat and lobbed the ball, almost underhand, over the defenders to Gore. Gore went for a big gain in the open space.

Defensive play of the day: Cornerback Perrish Cox kept pace with the speedy Ted Ginn along the right side line and had a beautifully timed break up of a perfectly thrown deep ball from Alex Smith.

Eye on reps: Starting left guard Mike Iupati has yet to return from the birth of his first child. In his absence, Leonard Davis played left guard and Alex Boone played right guard with the starters. Josh Johnson, Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien all had reps with the first team offense and against the first team defense at different times during the two-and-a-half hour practice.

Rookie report: Linebackers Kourtnei Brown and Cam Johnson stood out among the rookie class. Johnson had a called sack on Kaepernick in 11-on-11 drills as well as a stop on Frank Gore up the middle. Brown broke up a pass in the back of the end zone and also tipped a ball that bobbled through the defense before landing into the hands of guard Joe Looney.

Extra work: Second year defensive lineman Ian Williams got the defense yelping when he dropped running back Anthony Dixon in an 11-on-11 drill from within five yards of the goal line. He also was credited with a sack and almost had another sack of Josh Johnson from behind.

Coaching moment: At the end of practice, Jim Harbaugh lined up as the field goal kicker. When the ball was snapped, he rolled to the right for the fake. When the ball was pitched to him, his feet slid out from under him and he fell clumsily with a thud on his left side causing the entire team, and Harbaugh himself, to burst out laughing.

Quotable: During an 11-on-11 situation set up around an eight play drive, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith were in hot pursuit of Colin Kaepernick, Much to everyone's surprise on the sideline, Justin had the lung power to shout, "He's running again!"

Next practice: The 49ers will not practice on Sunday. They will return to work on Monday. None of the 49ers' practices in Santa Clara this summer are open to the general public due to the ongoing stadium construction.

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'


49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

SANTA CLARA – After spending the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, inside linebacker Brock Coyle knows how it is supposed to look.

And he believes the 49ers have gotten off to a good start under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has installed a scheme based on the Seahawks’ blueprint.

“What’s really cool about this defense is if you look at Seattle, Jacksonville and Atlanta, they all have their different traits, their different personalties and their characteristics,” Coyle said. “And we’re building our own identity on defense.

“You see guys flying around and growing. And this was just our second regular-season game together in this defense.”

Saleh uses such terms as “all gas no brakes” and “extreme violence” to describe the kind of style he wants to see from his defense. In the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers seemed to compete physically with the Seahawks for the first time in a long time.

On the first possession of the game, 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt set the tone when he separated Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham from the ball with a big hit. Graham was never a factor in the game, catching just one pass for 1 yard.

“If you’re looking from a progress standpoint, I don’t look at so much production as much as what it looks like on tape and the violence, the speed, attacking the ball, that’s what I’m excited about,” Saleh said.

The 49ers will have another chance on a quick turnaround to establish that identity on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will miss his second game in a row with a high-ankle sprain. Ray-Ray Armstrong started against Seattle, alongside NaVorro Bowman, but Saleh said Coyle also fits into his plan.

Coyle entered the game at Seattle in the first half in place of Armstrong, and Saleh hinted he could use both players more interchangeably until Foster returns.

“He deserves it,” Saleh said of Coyle. “He works his tail off and he works hard and we wanted to make sure that we got him some more reps. And to be honest with you, I feel he should probably get a little bit more.

“He’s a great communicator and knows everybody’s job on the football field. He’s very, very strong at the point of attack and he is pretty athletic and fast.”

The 49ers' physicality is showing up on the early downs, as the defense leads the league in allowing just 2.7 yards per play on first downs. But the 49ers have to get a lot better on the down that matters most. The 49ers rank 23rd on third downs, allowing the opposition through two games to convert 46.9 percent of their opportunities.

“Third down is a major emphasis -- every week it is," Saleh said. "We faced 12 more plays than we needed to that first drive just because a lack of execution on that first third-down and 9. We were in great position to get off the field.

"We’ve got to tackle and that takes all 11 running to the ball because a lot of times that first guy does miss, but we can help ourselves a lot by being better on third down for sure.”

Former 49ers receiver-turned actor, artist dies


Former 49ers receiver-turned actor, artist dies

Before he was an actor, a poet and a painter, Bernie Casey was a professional football player.

Casey died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 78.

The 49ers selected Casey in the first round of the 1961 NFL draft with the No. 9 overall selection out of Bowling Green. He was a college teammate of Jack Harbaugh, father of Jim and John Harbaugh.

Casey led the 49ers in receiving in 1962, ’63 and ’64. He appeared in 79 games in six seasons with the 49ers before a trade sent him to the Los Angeles Rams, where he finished his career. In his eight-year NFL career, Casey caught 359 passes for 5,444 yards and 40 touchdowns.

But Casey had other interests outside of football. He was the subject of a 1999 NFL Films profile, telling Steve Sabol he never loved football.

“You don’t have to love it, just be proficient at it,” Casey said. “People do things all the time that they don’t love, and they’re good at it. It’s a steppingstone to get from one place to another. It allows you to facility to pursue much bigger, more important visions.”

Casey left his career as an athlete – he also finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1960 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials – to establish careers in the arts.

He made his acting debut in 1969 in Guns of the Magnificent Seven. He returned to football but only for a role in the TV movie Brian’s Song. He has 78 acting roles to his credit, including Revenge of the Nerds, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the TV mini-series Roots: The Next Generation.

Casey spent more than 20 years as chair of the board of trustees at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. Casey was also a prominent artist. During 2003 exhibit of Casey’s work at the Thelma Harris Art Gallery in Oakland, Dr. Maya Angelou described what she liked about Casey’s work.

“I cannot see what Bernie Casey sees,” Angelou said. “Casey has the heart and the art to put his insight on canvas, and I am heartened by his action. For then I can comprehend his vision and even some of my own. His art makes my road less rock and my path less crooked.”