SANTA CLARA — One day after general manager Scot McCloughan gave Alex Smith glowing reviews for his performance at the 49ers' organized team activities, Shaun Hill worked the team's two-minute drill Tuesday with midseason precision.
He completed passes to six different receivers during one long drive in the organized team activity, culminating with a 6-yard pass to Dominique Zeigler in the back of the end zone.
"Today was just like every day — some good, some that needs to be corrected," Hill said. "But for the most part, I feel like the whole offense is starting to get it, starting to click."
Like McCloughan, Hill is impressed with Smith's progress but insists it doesn't bother him.
"I like to see my teammates do well, and he's a friend," Hill said. "We're all competing against each other, but we're also rooting for each other. I don't go out there wishing ill will by any means."
Hill's production Tuesday in some ways went against the grain because he isn't known as a strong practice player.
Is that a fair tag?
"I don't buy into it too much," Hill said, noting he would have never of made it in the NFL if he hadn't proven himself on the practice field.
Hill said he brings the same mentality to practice that as he does to a game. The difference, he said, is two bad plays in practice can ruin a period, but two bad plays in a game can be erased with a third-down conversion.
"Third down, you get a completion, now you're rolling," he said. "That's sometimes how maybe I get the allusion that I am a bad practice player — there might be a couple of ugly things here and there. But in a game, one good play makes up for those."
Hill does see these late spring "voluntary" practices as important because, he said, "There's no game for a few months, so this is the only place we can show what we have."
Though his play might not always be pretty, Hill is 7-3 as an NFL starter.
"I feel like I've proven that I can win," he said, "and that I can win with this team. Obviously, winning is the most important thing."
But, like always, Hill has to prove himself again.
"Every single level I've been on, that's the way it's been," he said. "I'm kind of used to that, I guess."
Jones is nice fit
When the 49ers signed receiver Brandon Jones in February to a five-year, $16.5 million deal with $5.4 million guaranteed, they weren't sure if Isaac Bruce would retire and hadn't drafted Michael Crabtree.
With Bruce and Crabtree in the mix, where does Jones fit in?
"The best way I can," said Jones, who had 41 catches for 449 yards and a touchdown last season for the Tennessee Titans. "I want to get on the field. I want to make plays. That's my job to do. That's what I'm going to do. I see myself fitting in wherever they want me to fit in. I want to help the team win."
Jones, 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, has made himself known at practice.
"He's got some wheels, and he's got much stronger hands than I thought," Hill said. "He's really surprised me with how strong his hands are in traffic, going up and making plays. He's got some range to him, and he's shown that in the last few days."
Cornerback Nate Clements, suffering from what the team has called a mild case of pneumonia, is said to be progressing nicely after being evaluated by a doctor Monday. He has been cleared to resume a normal daily routine but will not return to practice until the start of training camp.
— Darren Sabedra, MediaNews staff