49ers camp summary (730): Crabtree still sidelined

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49ers camp summary (730): Crabtree still sidelined

Summary: The 49ers were missing three wide receivers for team drills Monday with Michael Crabtree sitting out his third full day of work with lower right leg injury. Also, Mario Manningham did not participate during most of practice after taking part in individual work. Manningham remained on the field to watch practice. His condition was unknown. And Joe Hastings, who appeared to sustain a right leg injury Sunday, did not practice, either. Randy Moss made two nice catches during team drills. He made a lunging catch near the sideline against cornerback Carlos Rogers, managing to get both feet inbounds before tumbling to the ground. He also went up to catch a pass from Alex Smith late in the workout. Linebacker Patrick Willis had the top defensive play of the day when he stripped tight end Vernon Davis after a catch during teamwork. Safety Dashon Goldson scooped up the loose ball and took it the other way. Earlier, Willis had an interception of a Scott Tolzien pass on a ball that deflected off rookie tight end Garrett Celek.
Notable: Quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst gathered the four quarterbacks for an accuracy contest while the rest of the team was working on special teams. Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien took turns trying to hit small square holes in a net from about 15 yards away. Kaepernick had the best round of the group.
Quotable: "I'm the best, dog" -- 49ers running back Frank Gore to a couple of reporters on his return to the huddle after busting through the line and taking the ball about 60 yards into the end zone.
Eye on reps: Coach Jim Harbaugh said running back Anthony Dixon has asked to play fullback. But Dixon has not been seen taking any reps at fullback during camp. Dixon struggled during a blitz pickup drill against linebacker Larry Grant.
Extra work: Rookie running back LaMichael James spent time before practice with special-teams coordinator Brad Seely working on catching punts. James had his back turned to the Jugs machine about 40 yards down the field. When the ball was in the air, James had to locate it and make the catch.
Getting physical: Linebacker NaVorro Bowman couldn't help himself. The All-Pro linebacker leveled James during a blitz pickup drill. Later, he flattened Kendall Hunter after Hunter caught a short pass from Tolzien. While there is contact during the padded practices, the coaches do not want to see players hitting the ground.
Two-way wonders: Demarcus Dobbs and Ben Hannula, both of whom came to the 49ers as defensive players, had good days as pass-catchers on offense. Dobbs, who rotates between practices at defensive end and tight end, made a nice catch of a high pass from Alex Smith against Bowman's coverage during team drills. Hannula, who has played exclusive at wide receiver after signing as a defensive back, held onto a pass that was partially deflected by cornerback Tarell Brown.
Injury report: Crabtree missed his third day of practice with a right lower leg injury. . . . Hastings and cornerback Curtis Holcomb did not practice for undisclosed reasons. . . Linebacker Tavares Gooden returned to practice for the first time since exiting practice Saturday with an apparent illness. . . Manningham was on the practice field but he did not participate in team drills. . . . Guard Joe Looney (foot) and running back Jewel Hampton (lower leg) are on the non-football injury list, while outside linebacker Darius Fleming (knee) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Next practice: The 49ers have their first day off of training camp on Tuesday. The team returns to work Wednesday in full pads. None of the 49ers' practices in Santa Clara this summer are open to the general public due to the ongoing stadium construction.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”