Amid the smell of barbecued chicken (courtesy of celebrity chef Guy Fieri's visit), the 49ers held their first morning practice of training camp Wednesday, and an obvious emphasis was third-down situations.
The 49ers needed the work. Last season, they converted only 29.4 percent of third-down plays into first downs, the second-worst efficiency in the league, behind only the St. Louis Rams (28.07 percent).
Even worse was the 49ers' third-down showing in the playoffs, at least from a statistical sense.
They converted only 4-of-15 third downs in their Jan. 14 win over the New Orleans Saints; however, both of the 49ers' touchdown in the final 2:11 came on third-down plays, Alex Smith's 28-yard run and Smith's 14-yard pass to Vernon Davis.
Against the Giants in the NFC Championship game, they were 1-of-13 on third downs, and their only conversion came courtesy of a Giants' illegal-contact penalty on the 49ers' first drive after halftime of that 20-17 defeat.
On Wednesday, Smith completed his first four passes on the third-down drill, to four different receivers: Delanie Walker, Kyle Williams, Brian Tyms and Randy Moss.
Scott Tolzien wasn't as sharp, and would have had a pass to A.J. Jenkins intercepted if C.J. Spillman corralled it better.
In a light moment afterward, cornerback Carlos Rogers
Wide receiver Joe Hastings and cornerback Curtis Holcomb did not practice with what are believed to be leg injuries. Rookie guard Joe Looney, activated off the non-football-injury list Tuesday, attended practice but was not seen lining up during team drills.