Observations from 49ers training camp


Observations from 49ers training camp

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.

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care


Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.