YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean stood on the sideline Thursday, closely studying the 49ers' practice in the rain.
From time-to-time, he took paper out of his jacket pocket and scribbled notes for ideas he can implement on the basketball floor.
Crean, who is married to 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's sister Joani, observed there are many similarities in the essential qualities of the two sports."Short-area quickness is big in both sports," he said from field level at Stambaugh Stadium on the campus of Youngstown State, where the 49ers are practicing this week.Crean said he likes to watch defensive backs and offensive linemen in football, in particular, to develop ideas on how he can refine some of the drills for his basketball team. He said he formulates ideas from watching defensive backs change direction and offensive linemen use leverage.Crean's Hoosiers were 27-9 last season and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.
SOPOAGA SITS: Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga (left knee, ankle) does not figure to be available for Sunday's game against the New York Jets after missing his second day of practice.Ricky Jean Francois would be slated to take over for Sopoaga. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said not much would change with that alteration to the lineup."They're both pretty similar," Fangio said. "Both are big, physical guys on the nose for us. Ricky's got a little more movement ability. Isaac has a little more stoutness to him. But I don't see a big difference in both guys. We expect Ricky to go out and play really good for us."HEAVY WORKLOAD: Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said spending this week in Youngstown has come at a good time for his staff as it prepares for the many looks that the Jets' defense employs."If I appear unshaven, I apologize, but this Jets defense forces our whole staff to stay up into the wee hours of the morning," Roman said."One thing I can guarantee you about the Jets defense is there's going to be 11 players on the field. You never know where they're going to line up, but there will be 11 of them."Roman said the 49ers' offensive coaches were together at 3 a.m. to continue preparing for the Jets. Roman knows Jets coach Rex Ryan will have some new wrinkles to unveil on Sunday. Roman and Ryan were on the same Baltimore Ravens staff in 2006 and '07.Roman quoted Ryan's philosophy: "Run all the new stuff early so our old stuff will seem new."Said running Frank Gore, "They do a little of everything. They bring the pressure, they're big. They play good defense."NOTES: Running back Brandon Jacobs (knee), receiver Ted Ginn (ankle) and linebacker Patrick Willis (ankle) were all on field and in uniform at the start of practice . . . "My body feels good," said Willis, who sustained a right ankle sprain late in the 49ers' loss Sunday to the Minnesota Vikings. "Each day, just going to be smart and do what the trainers ask me to do. And we'll see how it feels on Sunday." . . . Rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins wore No. 10, as his assignment for the week is to play the role of the Jets' top receiver, Santonio Holmes, during practice against the 49ers' No. 1 defense.