Another day, another new city. We spent the last two nights in San Jose, which is right by Santa Clara, which is actually where the 49ers play despite being still called the San Francisco 49ers. Got all that? Me too.
Anyway, now we’re in San Diego, preparing for tomorrow’s live practice that’ll be shown on NFL Network. I can’t lie, I’m excited for that. The Chargers are one of those teams that I’d imagine are fun to watch work out, mainly because of the talent and athleticism they’ve always shown. So, should be fun. But before we do that…. Here is one of my hits from 49ers camp yesterday on NFL Network.
Some highlights of the trip to 49ers practice?
– The way the 49ers facility is now, it’s not ideal. In an office park in Santa Clara, the practice fields are nice enough. But there is construction all around, dirt flying, and everything is makeshift. The media workroom, for instance, is in a trailer. Normally, I’d be complaining. Not this time. Just the opposite. It’s really cool to see the Niners new stadium being built next store. Shovels in the dirt, etc. Candlestick Park, as they still call it, has a ton of history. But man, it’s time for a new stadium. And from what I hear about this one, it’s really going to be state-of-the-art and technologically clever.
– I wrote and talked a bunch about Randy Moss yesterday, and it probably won’t be the last time. The guy is in a good place in his career, giving it one final year to earn a ring. He harped on the teaching aspect of being a teammate, and that was clear in practice. But Moss is also in the honeymoon stage with San Francisco. One incident that fueled Moss’ departure from New England came when he noticeably sulked at a Patriots charity event. It was just the opposite on Thursday night at a Niners event. “Just being at the Pasta Bowl (Thursday), just everything that they stand for as far as giving back to the community and helping kids out,” Moss said. “I think that’s been my motto my whole career. Giving back and just showing kids a better way of living and (Thursday) night just raised me up, really as a person, just seeing how this organization functions their charity work.”
– Zipping in and out of town isn’t ideal for those of us who love to find cool places to eat, and because my flight arrived so late on Thursday, I got just one dinner out of San Jose. No worries. Sam Farmer of the LA Times recommended a great spot called Aqui, which was California-Mexican. Great choice. I had the taquitos (pictured) and also some tomatillo soup, which I’ve never had. I think LA rivals Dallas for Mexican food. It was odd, however, to watch the Olympics opening ceremonies with no sound. I feel like I missed the good portion of it.
– Speaking of the ceremonies… There are certain things you just don’t have to think about living on the East Coast or being on Central Time your whole life. When TV shows are on, they are just on. Now, being on the West Coast this week, it’s so weird. I noticed on Twitter last night everyone talking about the opening ceremonies. I saw all the highlights. Then, hours later on West Coast time, the show was on. I feel like it was kinda ruined. Do West Coasters stay off Twitter when a big event is coming up that is tape delayed?
– Alex Smith, the starting quarterback, doesn’t sound as giddy as he probably is about having such a stocked group of receivers. I mean, the names are pretty solid – Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins, Michael Crabtree… that’s good. But he is taking a wait-and-see approach to learning the ones who are unfamiliar. This was classic when he was asked about if he’s gone out to dinner with Moss. “You mean like a date?” Smith asked. “No one-on-one date. We’re not there just yet. We’re still more on the courting stage (laughter). No, we’ve hung out a lot at OTA’s and team functions and stuff. During the offseason we spent some time together, but we’re not exclusive (laughter).”
– As for Manningham, the former Super Bowl hero is in a good spot. He got a nice new contract and his star may be on the rise. He looked good, I thought, in practice, though we know he can reach up and grab it. The big thing will be consistency. “Things are going great,” Manningham said. “It’s just, getting on the same page as the quarterback, getting a new feeling from my team. I’m glad I came here to play with this team, to play with this staff, the ultimate goal is just to keep winning every week.”
— I wonder if the 49ers can be the best defense in football. I don’t know who it’ll be this year (the Ravens or Steelers, maybe?) but the Niners have to be in the conversation. I mean, the overall talent in the front seven is just absurd. Just having Patrick Willis playing alongside NaV0rro Bowman is not fantastic for any opposing running back. Really, I think Jim Harbaugh did a good job picking the team to go to last year. He found a group of hard-nosed players and a defense he could build around. It starts up front on that D. Just nasty.
– Finally, it was odd seeing Brandon Jacobs, the long-time Giants star, wearing an ugly No. 45 (sorry, all 40 numbers are ugly) and rocking the 49ers uni. But he seems to be thrilled. Jacobs told me the adjustment has been great and that he’s happy with the move. I figured it would be easy, considering the team are constructed similarly. Well… Jacobs couldn’t have disagreed with that more.
“There’s no similarities with this football team,” Jacobs told me. “They are different brands. There’s a different brand of football there than it is here. Got different style coaches, everything is different, if you ask me. I don’t compare the two at all. They play a different brand of football than we play here, that’s basically it. … I think (the 49ers have) a very downhill football team, running the ball equally – 50-50. Very balanced. The Giants used to be… When I first came into the league, we went that way. Now I guess the game there has evolved to something very different than the kind of football they used to play. And they’ve been very good at it. And they are good at what they do.”