SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Wide receiver Dominique Zeigler has been a hot option at wide receiver over the past few practices and his play at training camp could elevate him to the roster spot. During Wednesday morning’s practice, Zeigler played more with the offense during reps and in team drills caught passes from both Alex Smith and David Carr.
Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said that Zeigler was in contention to make the roster last year before a high ankle sprain changed scenarios. His recent play suggests that he could be right back on that path to the roster.
“He’s had an outstanding camp,” Raye said after the morning practice. “He’s taken another step toward the familiarity and the confidence that Alex Smith has in him.”
Smith also spoke of his comfort with Zeigler as the wide receiver is in a crucial spot to fight to make the roster.
“Every time he goes in, he knows what he’s doing,” Smith said of Zeigler’s practices. Zeigler also saw some time as special teams returner in Sunday’s preseason game against the Colts.
Zeigler, along with Jason Hill both have had extra reps with Michael Crabtree (neck) and Kyle Williams (toe) out.
The offensive line went through some struggles today in blitz pickup. On two different occasions, Smith would have been sacked on a blitz that was not picked up.
The passing game didn’t get off to a great start either. On the first play of team drills, linebacker Patrick Willis jumped right in front of tight end Delanie Walker for an interception. But there were some good plays, most notably Ted Ginn’s speed outrunning cornerback Chris Maragos on a go route in the end zone for a catch.
During red zone drills, both the first and second team units had cracks at scoring the touchdown. Starting at the 11-yard line, the first team scored their touchdown, capped off by a catch by tight end Tony Curtis.
The second team also scored a touchdown with a slant to wide receiver Bakari Grant from David Carr. When told to run the same play again, linebacker Matt Wilhelm jumped in front of Jason Hill for the pick.
Kicker Joe Nedney has finally gotten a chance to kick the ball during training camp. Nedney has been away from kicking due to a groin condition. Nedney and Shane Andrus both alternated kicking field goals from different distances. Nedney had two go wide left and Andrus had one go left and one go right. Both kickers made most of their field goals and got them through with plenty of distance.
Other notes from practice:
– LB Travis LaBoy and DE Demetric Evans were given the morning practice off as part of veteran courtesy. WR Michael Crabtree was limited in practice today. TE Vernon Davis, OL Chris Patrick, LB Brandon Long were all held out due to various injuries. Long, whose nursing a hamstring injury, was in a little and might see more action soon.
– The offense worked on running drills and ended practice with pass drills for new RB Brian Westbrook, to help get him acclimated with the offense. Jimmy Raye said that if healthy and ready with the offense, he could see action this Sunday.
– Raye also spoke on Anthony Dixon, saying that his performance on Sunday could lead to more opportunities for the next game.
“He’s put himself in position to warrant more snaps and early snaps against better competition.”
– Raye also said that he has liked what he has seen from QB Nate Davis and he should get more playing time in the next preseason game.
– QB Alex Smith said that the missed pass to TE Vernon Davis on Sunday was in part to him throwing too early. Smith did say that he felt good from Sunday’s game, despite going 3-9 for 37 yards and an interception — a 7.9 QB rating.
Smith also said that both he and new center David Baas are both on the same page. Smith said that practicing against the team’s front seven defense has been good practice for both of them.
– During punt return drills, Reggie Smith, Brandon Jones, Ted Ginn and Bobby Guillory were the returnmen. Smith has also been subbing in with the first team in place of safeties Dashon Goldson and Michael Lewis.
– Next practice is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. this afternoon.