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Quick observations from 49ers' morning practice

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The 49ers begin their afternoon practice in another hour or so. A few notes left over from the morning session:

  • These practices feature more high-impact physical contact than what I recall seeing at most training camps. Example: Frank Gore runs across the shallow middle on a pass pattern. He's about to catch the pass when linebacker Takeo Spikes decks him. The pass is incomplete. Gore gets up and runs back to the huddle, ready for more.

  • Manny Lawson stood out to me a couple times. As noted, he defeated Vernon Davis, a difficult matchup, in Mike Singletary's nutcracker drills. I also saw Lawson beat left tackle Joe Staley in a one-on-one pass-rush drill. Lawson celebrated after beating Staley with a quick move to the inside. The 49ers need to see more of this.

  • Also in pass-rush drills, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin beat center Eric Heitmann, who had little choice but to hold; Kentwan Balmer beat guard Tony Wragge, who also held; defensive tackle Khalif Mitchell convincingly beat center Cody Wallace; defensive end Pannel Egboh eventually prevailed against tackle Kyle Howard with a spin move; guard Matt Spanos fared better in an immediate rematch after defensive lineman Babatunde Oshinowo beat him in the first matchup.

  • Cornerback Dre Bly showed his frustration after receiver Josh Morgan beat him for a short reception. Morgan gained separation with a quick shove near the line of scrimmage before catching the pass from Shaun Hill.

  • Receiver Brandon Jones leapt high to make a catch over cornerback Marcus Hudson on a pass from Alex Smith (update: I think Hill threw that one).

  • Singletary kept urging players to stay off the ground. That is a standard message from coaches, but it's tougher to abide by such rules when the practices are so physical.

  • Smith's shoulder appears to be doing fine. The quarterback threw one pass roughly 60 yards in the air without any trouble.

  • Singletary likes what he's seeing from linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who continues to get work while Parys Haralson rests an injury.

  • Balmer "did OK" when working with the first team at right defensive end while Justin Smith received time off.

I spoke with Staley and Gore after the morning practice. Both seemed genuinely excited about playing for Singletary. More on that as camp progresses.