Plays were being made left and right by both sides of the ball at the 49ers training camp practice on Sunday. But two players seemed to be making more of them than anyone else.
It was tight end Vernon Davis and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks who were the ones constantly around the ball.
Davis hauled in more passes than any other receiver and Brooks showed his ability to close in on ball carriers on the perimeter.
“Practice was good today,” Davis said after he stepped off the field. “We got a lot accomplished. We accomplished a lot as a team. We got better.”
As a major part of the team, Davis continues to excel at training camp under new offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. In Raye’s offense, Davis has commonly been used for short and intermediate routes where he takes advantage of his 6-3 frame and receiver-like speed to find open areas of space.
“I do what I’m told to do. If you do what you’re told to do, then things will happen for you,” he said. “If there is a play where I have an option route, then I read the defense. If I’m supposed to scream down the field, I’m screaming down the field. I just run and move around and make plays.”
Davis’ relentless work ethic has also helped him become an improved pass target.
Throughout his career, he has utilized a jugs machine to catch passes at the end of practices, during individual workouts or whenever he has time.
“It helps me a lot. That’s something I do all the time, all year round,” he said. “It keeps your hands and your eyes on the ball at all times.”
Since he came into the league as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Davis has been intently focused on becoming an elite tight end. While he has developed into one of the most explosive players at his position, Davis is still waiting for that breakthrough season that will earn him league-wide recognition.
Two years ago he caught 52 passes and likely figured he would be in the 50-catch range for the rest of his career. But after a season of being utilized as more of a pass blocker than a pass catcher, Davis is still waiting for that dream season.
But he’s not getting ahead of himself.
“My thing is taking it one day at a time, one game at a time. You never know what will happen. As long as I do what I got to do, I’m going to excel and I’m going to do well at it,” Davis said.
As for the next bunch of days at camp, Davis wants to win every individual play.
“I want to dominate my opponent,” he said. “That’s all I’ve got to do right now. Skill-wise and technique, I’m pretty much where I need to be. My thing is to keep it going out and just dominate. I try to dominate every day.”
As Davis was dictating where many of the passes were being thrown on Sunday, Brooks was usually in the vicinity as he was all over the field too.
With starting outside linebacker Parys Haralson day-to-day with a hip flexor injury, Brooks seized the opportunity. In the process, he flashed a lot of the tools that led general manager Scot McCloughan to sign him prior to the start of last season.
Brooks was only on the active roster for one game with the 49ers and did not play. But, the lack of playing time never deterred his confidence in his abilities.
On Sunday, Brooks clearly showed that his 6-3, 259-pound body could come in quite handy this season.
“It’s unfortunate that Parys went down but he’ll be back,” Brooks said. “I’m just trying to get better and make sure the team gets better every day.”