Summary: Receiver Michael Crabtree returned to the practice field for his most extensive work since being sidelined with a right calf strain early in practice. Crabtree caught a handful of passes during the 7-on-7 and team portions of practice. He did not participate in the two-minute drill.Meanwhile, rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins had his best day of camp. Jenkins had three receptions from Josh Johnson and a more impressive one from Scott Tolzien. Late in practice, Jenkins made one of the better catches of camp when he elevated in traffic to pull down a 25-yard dart from Tolzien, showing great body control in the air. Jenkins made the grab against the first-team defense. "Every day he's getting better," Crabtree said of Jenkins.Midway through practice, coach Jim Harbaugh raised the stakes for a two-minute drill. With post-practice sprints on the line, Alex Smith and the first-team offense marched down the field to get into the end zone.On fourth-and-goal from the six, Smith went through all his options before pulling it down, rushing right, and diving into the end zone to condemn the defense to extra conditioning.Tolzien made a number of nice deep passes. His touchdown to undrafted rookie receiver Brian Tyms was the offensive play of the day, and he dropped a pretty 30-yard pass over Ted Ginn's left shoulder down the right sideline later.Injury report: LaMichael James did not participate in practice, and his status is unknown. It was the first practice James has missed during training camp. Offensive lineman Jason Slowey sat out his third practice with an undisclosed injury. Receiver Joe Hastings (right leg), cornerback Curtis Holcomb also did not participate. Running back Jewel Hampton (foot) is on the non-football injury list, while outside linebacker Darius Fleming (knee) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list.Offensive play of the day: Tolzien showed an adept feel for the long ball. In the first 11-on-11 drill of the day, with the blitz coming, he hung in to hit Brian Tyms with a deep ball to the left side. Tyms elevated over starting cornerback Tarell Brown to haul in the touchdown. Anthony Dixon helped provide protection for Tolzien with a blitz pickup that drew raves from the coaching staff.Smith-Moss connection: It wasn't the play of the day, but in an 11-on-11 red-zone period, Smith felt pressure and stepped up in the pocket nicely before throwing to Randy Moss cutting across the back of the endzone for the touchdown. Smith and Moss haven't exactly torched the 49ers defense this training camp, so it was positive to see them connecting -- and looking in sync -- in the red zone.Defensive play of the day: Donte Whitner and Carlos Rogers each pulled down interceptions. Whitner's was more impressive, as he jumped an inside rout and collapsed on Johnson's low pass. Rogers' pick was deflected into the air before he corralled it in the middle of the field.Eye on reps: The bulk of the quarterback snaps went to third- and fourth-string QBs Johnson and Tolzien. Johnson had an up-and-down day of work with several of his passes sailing high of the mark. Tolzien was sharper, especially looking downfield.Getting physical: In a 1-on-1 individual blitz pick-up drill, Dixon locked up Ahmad Brooks and threw him backwards. A play later, Aldon Smith looked to get around starting fullback Bruce Miller. When Dixon and Brooks squared off again, there was a little something extra behind the initial contact. It was a good drill for Dixon, who turned away a NaVorro Bowman spin move as well.Notable: In the special teams period of practice, the ball ended up in Brooks' arms on the kick return. It won't be a plan of attack for the 49ers, who have Ted Ginn, Kendall Hunter and James listed on the depth chart for kickoff returns, but you never know where a squib kick will end up.Next practice: The 49ers return to practice on Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. None of the 49ers' practices in Santa Clara this summer are open to the general public due to the ongoing stadium construction.
SANTA CLARA – The general managers are good friends. And, this week, they are getting a unique, unfiltered chance to evaluate players who might be available on each other’s team.
John Lynch, the 49ers’ first-year general manager, and Denver Broncos GM John Elway have spoken this week about needs and which players might be available on the trade market.
The 49ers have good depth on their defensive line, where a player such as Quinton Dial might have a difficult time making the 53-man roster due to the change to a 4-3 scheme. They could use some help at offensive guard.
“It’s kind of that time of year, where people are calling and saying, ‘Hey, you’re strong here, we’re strong here. Let’s just kind of keep these things in mind.’ And, this is a great opportunity to do that,” Lynch said.
The 49ers and Broncos went through a two-hour, fully padded joint practice behind Levi’s Stadium on Wednesday. The teams will go through another practice together Thursday with helmets and shells. It is an opportunity for both general managers to see which bubble players on the other team could make a difference with his own team.
“We did have some of those discussions,” Lynch said. “The greatest thing is lots of times you’re throwing on (film of) a preseason game. We get a chance for three days to look at some people we might be interested in. So you’re always doing that. I think they’re doing that as well and it’s another productive thing out of this week.”
The 49ers engaged in trade talks involving tight end Vance McDonald during the draft. Any team that trades for McDonald would owe him a guaranteed $2.1 million for the upcoming season. He is signed through 2021.
McDonald, however, has worked his way into strong consideration for a spot on the 53-man roster with an impressive training camp.
“I think what I’ve been thoroughly impressed, as has Kyle [Shanahan] and everybody around here, how Vance has responded to that,” Lynch said. “I thought last week against Kansas City was a great example. Even though it didn’t show up on the stat sheet, it’s as good as I’ve seen him block, and he did it consistently and he competed extremely hard.”
McDonald, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell face stiff challenges to hold onto their roster spots with the additions of newcomers Logan Paulsen and rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini.
SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are expected to replenish their linebacker to help the team get through upcoming practices and their final three exhibition games.
The 49ers on Wednesday created two roster spots to sign replacements, as the team designated linebackers Donavin Newsom and Jayson DiManche as waived/injured.
General manager John Lynch said the designation was a formality for Newsom, who will revert back to the 49ers after clearing waivers. Newsom will remain under contract to the 49ers after going on injured reserve.
“He’s doing better each day,” Lynch said. “We’re going to put him on injured reserve. It will come across the wire procedurally as a waived-injured, but he’s going to be on injured reserve. And talking with our doctors, he got great care up here at Stanford. It’s the best thing for the kid. Give him time to really get right. So, (I) had a good talk with him this morning.”
Newsom, an undrafted rookie from Colorado, sustained a serious concussion on Aug. 8 and was taken by ambulance off the practice field to Stanford Hospital. He spent two nights in the hospital as a precaution.
DiManche was signed last week and participated in seven plays on defense and 15 on special teams before sustaining a hamstring injury in the 49ers’ exhibition opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Newly signed linebacker Sean Porter sustained a quadriceps injury in the game against the Chiefs and has also not been available to practice.