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49ERS
Defensive feast in Napa
49ERS: Defense comes up with seven interceptions in two practices against Raiders

  • Nate Clements picks off a pass intended for Randy Moss during a game last season against New England. (John Burgess / PD)

NAPA Cornerback Nate Clements was across the field when he saw 49ers teammate Shawntae Spencer jawing with Raiders rookie receiver Louis Murphy during the early portion of Wednesdays joint practice.

That got my blood flowing, Clements said. It rubbed off on everybody and became contagious.

The high-intensity practice that ensued was one of the ages. For about 30 minutes when the 49ers defense was matched against the Raiders offense, the 49ers feasted on a smorgasbord of interceptions.

I was talking to Shaun (Hill) and Alex (Smith) and I said, You dont feed us like that in practice, veteran cornerback Dre Bly said. They (the Raiders quarterbacks) fed us today. That buffet was good.

The 49ers recorded just 12 interceptions last season, and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has made it an offseason emphasis to promote a more active, aggressive approach. He has stressed turnovers, sacks and hustling to the football, he said.

While the 49ers pass rush has yet to make much of an impression, the defense does appear to have more of a knack for coming up with interceptions. The 49ers intercepted Denver Broncos starting quarterback Kyle Orton three times in the first half of the teams exhibition opener Friday night.

And they turned gluttonous on the practice field with seven interceptions during two practices Wednesday.

This defense is getting a lot of turnovers, and thats something we lacked last year, 49ers safety Dashon Goldson said.

Goldson was elevated to the starting lineup in the offseason for that very purpose. He replaces Mark Roman at free safety. Roman had gone two full seasons without an interception. The 49ers also signed Bly, an 11-year pro with 40 career interceptions.

With a combined 20 years of NFL experience, Bly and cornerback Nate Clements agreed they have never witnessed a more one-sided practice than the teams morning session against the Raiders.

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