Observations from 49ers training camp

August 10, 2012, 5:27 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- You'll have a chance to see them in action for the first time in nearly eight months Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings, but I've been present for the 49ers' past three days of training camp at team headquarters in Santa Clara.

After a bit of needling from Insider Matt Maiocco, here are a number of observations that caught my eye:

- Offseason additions created a talented and crowded backfield for the 49ers. While Frank Gore's training camp touches were limited, Kendall Hunter looked to be the fastest to the outside. The second-year pro showed tremendous burst and ability to turn upfield quickly this camp.

- Demarcus Dobbs is being tried as a two-way player, and his big body belies his soft hands. He has looked good as a pass catcher this training camp. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio isn't concerned he'll lose him to the offense, though, and he says Dobbs factors into the team's future defensive plans. Dobbs wore No. 96 last year, but he's been wearing No. 40 this camp, a number that won't require him to check in with referees as an eligible receiver on offense.

- If I were out there throwing passes this training camp, I would be targeting undrafted rookie receiver Brian Tyms. He has really impressed me with his size, speed and ability to go get the ball. Tyms is listed at six-foot-three and 210 pounds. The 49ers already have six top receivers they're likely to carry into the regular season -- Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn, Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins -- but see if they don't try to stash Tyms on the practice squad. Nathan Palmer is another undrafted rookie the team is excited about, but Palmer was relatively quiet for the few days I witnessed.

- Keeping up with Insider Matt Maiocco's Camp Summaries, I expected one of the NFL's top defenses to continue having their way with Greg Roman's offensive units. But I was impressed to see Tuesday and Wednesday that the offense was holding their own, and in some practice periods -- especially with the clock in play -- pushing the defense on their heels with a series of positive gains. With the stakes raised, they forced post-practice sprints from the defense on Tuesday. It will be fun to watch this offense have a chance to play against a defense that isn't familiar with the gameplan. Holes should be a little bigger against a defensive unit that can't expect what's coming next.

- Scott Tolzien looked good. Granted, he's often up against the the last-string defense, but his decision making and ball delivery have stood out, so much so that he could challenge Josh Johnson for the third-string QB role. Their preseason play will go a long way in determining the depth chart, but at this point, I'm putting Tolzien three.

- Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman showed last season that they like to break out a bit of trickery from time to time. I saw my first two progressive plays Wednesday when they went to Kyle Williams on the end around, and deployed a flea flicker with Tolzien going deep (unsuccessfully) for A.J. Jenkins. After bolstering their arsenal with new weapons, I am looking forward to seeing how Roman and the 49ers push football's play-calling limits and get their playmakers the ball in space.

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