- John Clayton, NFL senior writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Here are five observations on the San Francisco 49ers, based on their Aug. 11 practice:
1. It will be tough for Alex Smith to complete 60 percent of his passes in his rookie season because the team is so understaffed at wide receiver. The franchise that once boasted the skills of Jerry Rice and John Taylor has Arnaz Battle and Brandon Lloyd as its starting receivers. Battle, a former sixth-round choice from Notre Dame who has just eight career catches, is considered the team's best wide receiver. In his first two seasons, Battle was one of the team's best special teams players.
His quickness and elusiveness in routes moved him ahead of Rashaun Woods and others on the depth chart. Lloyd is still a good sideline threat as the split end with the ability to make the acrobatic catch. Woods, last year's first-round choice, can't seem to win over the coaches. His rookie season was ruined by a chronic hamstring problem. Some folks in the press are speculating Woods might be cut. He'll probably be on the roster but in an inactive role. He's not among the team's top four receivers. Johnnie Morton is a nice insurance policy as a veteran backup.
The 49ers plan to let linebacker Julian Peterson rush the quarterback more than he ever has in the past.