Davis establishing himself on 49ers’ offensive line
SANTA CLARA – One week of training camp with the San Francisco 49ers has been enough for Anthony Davis to establish himself as the team’s starting right tackle.
That was the plan all along when the 49ers traded up in the draft this spring to take Davis with the No. 11 overall selection. As the team took a break from the summer grind Sunday with one brief walkthrough in shorts, the rookie from Rutgers is already ahead of schedule.
“I never thought about not being able to do it,” Davis said. “You have to go in with that mindset because it’s rough in there. My goal is to get better and make progress every day.”
Davis has gradually been worked in with the first-team offense since San Francisco began practice Aug. 1. His work at right tackle increased as the week progressed to the point Davis spent both of Saturday’s practice sessions with the first team ahead of incumbent Adam Snyder.
Davis, who doesn’t turn 21 until October, already is convinced he can handle the job at one of the 49ers’ biggest problem areas during recent seasons. He’s quickly convincing others.
“He has all the physical talent in the world,” said Joe Staley, the 49ers’ first-round pick in 2007. “The guy’s a big dude and he likes to get after it. He has good feet and can really move well for a guy that big.”
Davis has been doing all the right things as far as learning the playbook and getting his body in condition for the rigors of a NFL season. He has trimmed down his 6-foot-5 frame to 323 pounds by changing his diet, and describes himself as in the “best shape I’ve ever been.”
Davis appears to be the leading candidate to be San Francisco’s starting right tackle for the season opener, just like Staley was three years ago. He went on to start all 16 games, and is now entrenched as the team’s starting left tackle.
Davis wasn’t the only rookie offensive lineman to make his mark during San Francisco’s first week of practice. Mike Iupati, drafted six picks after Davis with the No. 17 overall selection, moved into the starting lineup at left guard after incumbent David Baas was injured Monday.
Baas returned to practice after missing several days with a concussion, but Iupati remained in the starting lineup. The two rookie lineman will be difficult to budge if they progress.
“They’ve both been impressive early on from a physical standpoint,” offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said. “They’re athletic with big bodies, and I don’t see any reason why they won’t continue to ascend as they get more familiar with the language and system of football we’re playing.”
BAD WEEK FOR LINEBACKERS: The 49ers’ linebacker unit is one of the team’s strengths, but that position took a severe blow during the opening week of camp.
Second-year veteran Scott McKillop tore his ACL and patellar tendon in his left knee and is likely lost for the season. The 49ers also lost outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks for at least two weeks with a lacerated kidney, and newcomer Travis LaBoy missed time with a concussion.
McKillop was having a solid camp and was expected to be the top backup to starting inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes. Brooks, who had a career-high six sacks last season, was challenging for a regular role as an edge rusher on passing downs. LaBoy, signed to a one-year deal as a free agent in March, also is expected to battle for a pass-rushing role.
The injuries have accelerated the learning curve for third-round draft pick NaVorro Bowman, who has made a solid impression with a heavy workload.
Bowman has moved in as the top backup inside behind Willis and Spikes. The aggressive rookie was dominant against 49ers running backs during a blocking drill Saturday morning.
“Across the board, he’s doing pretty well,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “He’s picking up the calls and he understands it. He’s been pretty physical up front, he can strike, he can bend and he’s got good movement skills inside. I’m excited about the young gentleman.”
RECEIVER SIGNED: With veteran Brandon Jones and rookie Scott Long unavailable for practice with hamstring injuries, the 49ers added to their receiver corps Sunday by signing rookie Kevin Jurovich out of San Jose State.
Jurovich was one of more than 30 players who took part in the 49ers’ pro day for college prospects in April. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles but was recently waived after missing practice time with a quad contusion.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Jurovich is San Jose State’s career leader with 160 receptions. He set the school’s single-season record with 85 catches in 2007.
The 49ers have 79 players in camp. They continue to keep open one spot for nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who was designated as San Francisco’s franchise player in March and has yet to sign his one-year tender offer or participate in any team workouts in 2010.
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