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What was supposed to be just another fun day at 49ers training camp has been put into perspective by the news of the passing of legendary San Francisco head coach Bill Walsh. Walsh died at 10:45 am. However, I was unaware of the news until I checked the 49erswebzone front page while eating a late lunch at a restaurant near Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Needless to say that the news of the passing of such an iconic figure was a shock to me. Walsh had been battling leukemia for three years. To fans like me, I never really thought about the worst case scenario. Walsh was a Superman in by eyes. He was to the San Francisco 49ers what coaches like John Wooden are to schools like UCLA.
I must admit that I was too young to watch the majority of Bill Walsh's legendary career with the San Francisco 49ers having only caught the very end. Even then, I was probably too young to understand Walsh's greatness. I have to imagine that many of the fans in my age group or younger remember very little of "The Genuis" as well. Like many, they probably remember him better as a consultant and general manager with the team years after his departure as head coach. However, thanks to the media and the internet, fans of all ages are well aware of the man's influence in the NFL today. Not only did many current NFL coaches get their start by learning from Walsh, but his offensive system still influences many current NFL playbooks.
Walsh's ability to draw a battle plan for games and draft key players turned the 49ers into one of the greatest dynasties in sports. He was loved by the Bay Area and respected by his peers. If Walsh said something, you listened intently. He was very approachable, down to earth and loved the game for what it was...a 100-yard chess match.
It is tough to imagine that I now live in a world where there is no Bill Walsh. He will remain in my memories for a lifetime.
The second open session of 49ers training camp nears. Please check back here for my live thoughts and observations as the occur.
3:42 pm: Bryan Gilmore is the first player on the field. He just looks to be relaxing a bit before camp.
3:44 pm: All four quarterbacks are the next ones out on the field. Like yesterday, the start out with some simple stretches.
3:48 pm: Smith, Hill and Getsy practice dropping back and then move on to some light passes. Dilfer joins them at this point. They are passing footballs back and forth to each other. Smith to Getsy and Dilfer to Hill.
3:50 pm: A few more players come out including guys like Kwama Harris, Maany Lawson, Shawntae Spencer and others.
Dilfer is not in pads today. He is the only quarterback not wearing any. Just a jersey, shorts and a hat. No helmet like the others.
3:54 pm: The rest of the offense and defense comes out onto the field, much to the delight of the fans. It is a much smaller group of fans here today. Maybe 30% of the attendance yesterday.
3:58 pm: The entire team starts again by running sprints across the field. The smaller crowd of fans cheer as they start this session of training camp.
4:03 pm: The entire team is stretching as a group. Alex Smith is right near us.
4:07 pm: By the way, Larry Allen is here practicing with the team.
4:25 pm: The team starts with a full offense vs defense drill. Three wide receivers and no running back. The first pass is a Smith to Delanie Walker completion up the middle. The second is a short completion to Moran Norris from Alex Smith. Hill comes up next and looks good in his first play. On his second play, a completion to Maurice Hicks up the middle. Smith's next time up is an incompletion. Next is a completion to his left to Hicks. The defense is playing with only four defensive backs and three linebackers.
Now the quarterbacks practice passing drills to the tight ends. Walker is looking pretty good as is Davis.
I really can't see what the defense is doing from here.
Davis catches a nice passabout 20 yards deep from Smith. Walker drops one. In his defense, it was not a great pass. The crowd cheers as Davis catches a pass about 30 yards deep. He catches another from Smith up the middle. So far, he is catching everything.
4:35 pm: Now it is the receiver against the corners. On the first play, Battle catches a Smith pass despite good coverage by Clements.
My attention has moved to what appears to be the Oklahoma Drill. I say that because I remember some mention that it would be used today. Basically, a defensive player against an offensive lineman or player in an attempt to get to the quarterback. However, if memory serves me, I remember the Oklahoma Drill being used with a running back and that was the player that the defensive guy would need to get to. Dilfer is practicing with this group. Willis and Lawson are looking great in this drill. Willis is just blowing by people. Derek Smith is also looking very good during this drill.
Back with the receivers, Smith just completed a very deep pass to Battle who was covered by Clements. Spencer is really taking care of side of the field.
Back at the Oklahoma Drill, Davis and Moore are really getting into it, much to the fans delight. Davis even waves his hands to pump up the crowd. The crowd is eating this up.
4:44 pm: With that drill over, the offense gets a little work in. Smith and Hill work with the receivers while Getsy works with the running backs and offensive lineman.
Lelie appears to be catching the deep ball well.
4:56 pm: The offense works against the defense again. Two wide receivers, tight end, running back and fullback. The first pass from Smith hits Davis in stride.
While Shaun Hills throwing motion looks off at times, he is doing pretty well. Just as I type that, Patrick Willis picks off a Hill pass.
Battle really is looking good. He catches everything Smith throws to him. Tarell Brown is looking pretty good in coverage as well.
5:03 pm: Nothing really intersting to report here. The teams is just practicing by hitting the pads a bit.
5:06 pm: They have moved on to some punt returning drills for a very short time.
5:16 pm: During a scrimmage, Smith passes to Davis who catches it, takes a shot from Moore and keeps on going like it was nothing.
For those interested in knowing, Gore has not been practicing. I just heard that he broke his hand in morning practice.
Someone just asked me if Smith looks better, especially on the deep ball. He looks better than he did yesterday. His deep ball is looking better. He did hit that deep one to Battle perfectly.
He just scrambled to his left to avoid a sack and got the ball off. Unfortunately, it was incomplete.
At running back, Hicks looks good, but Clayton looks so much better.
Dalanie Walker just dropped an easy pass that was not even 10 yards deep. He recovers by catching the next pass on a similar play.
5:30 pm: Next up are some passing drills. Two wide receivers, a tight end, fullback and running back. Smith is actually looking very good today. Just as I type that, Mark Roman picks Smith off after Gilmore can't make the catch. While Maxwell continues to impress, Gilmore has not been impressive at all.
Jason Hill just caught a beautiful deep pass be Getsy after Markus Curry fell in coverage. Hill has some real speed out there. Vernon Davis is doing well on this drill as well. Battle looks great. I don't think I have seen him drop anything yet.
Darrell Jackson did not practice today.
Brandon Williams just fumbled a pass and it was recovered by Jake Patten.
With that, day 2 of training camp is in the books. I will be at one more open session which will be Wednesday's practice.
After getting some more player autographs after practice, I got to meet up with Matt Maiocco and have him sign his book, "Where Have You Gone?" Thanks Matt.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Bill Walsh during this difficult time.