SANTA CLARA – The best catch of the day at 49ers organized team activities came from a player who has no desire to win a roster spot as a wide receiver.
Quarterback Josh Johnson is not quitting his day job, he declared after he filled in for a few snaps Tuesday while wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Quinton Patton were out of action.
Johnson had just thrown touchdown passes to Kassim Osgood and tight end Derek Carrier. Then, he lined up wide to the right during a seven-on-seven session in the red zone.
Johnson ran a slant pattern in which he won his battle with rookie cornerback Dontae Johnson for the football.
“I'm just doing it to protect my teammates, and it’s extra conditioning for me,” Johnson said. “It’s fun to be a football player, but I always prefer to be a quarterback.”
When told he made the catch of the day, Josh Johnson gave the credit to quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who threw the pass.
“It was a better ball,” Johnson said. “He threw a great ball, so that made it easier on me. I read the coverage, so I knew I had a chance to get it. But he threw a perfect ball.”
Here are some of the other notes and observations from 49ers practice, which was open to the media:
--Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone remain absent from the voluntary workouts as they seek new contracts.
--Patton (foot) and Stevie Johnson (hamstring) were held out of action with what are believed to be minor injuries. Crabtree and Boldin get regular breaks from practices and did not step onto the practice field. That left the 49ers with only seven wide receivers: Brandon Lloyd, Bruce Ellington, David Reed, Osgood, Chuck Jacobs, Devon Wylie and Jon Baldwin.
--Running back Frank Gore was on the field for stretching. He did not take part in practice, but he spent time watching the second unit during 11-on-11 drills. Likewise, veteran defensive lineman Justin Smith was on hand but did not take part in the practice.
--Others who did not practice were: defensive linemen Ian Williams (lower leg) and Justin Smith, linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee), cornerbacks Chris Culliver (knee) and Keith Reaser (knee), safeties Jimmie Ward (foot), C.J. Spillman (hand), fullback Trey Millard (knee), tackles Anthony Davis (shoulder) and Jonathan Martin (recovering from mononucleosis), and guard Brandon Thomas (knee).
--Patrick Willis continues to work at the “mike” linebacker position in place of Bowman, who is expected to open the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would make him ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season. Michael Wilhoite got the first-team reps at the “jack” position. Last season, Wilhoite started two games at “jack” in place of Willis when he was out with a groin strain.
--Joe Looney filled in at right guard and Adam Snyder took most of the first-team reps at right tackle with Boone and Anthony Davis not available to practice. Davis watched practice from the sideline. Ryan Seymour saw action on the second team at right tackle and left guard.
--The 49ers opened practice with 10 minutes of work on both fields with the emphasis on each of their quarterbacks running the read option.
--During an open-field angle drill, running back Carlos Hyde put a good move on Dontae Johnson, and Ellington faked out linebacker Nick Moody. Outside linebacker showed good agility by hanging with running back Marcus Lattimore, and safety Eric Reid stayed with LaMichael James.
--Lattimore, who caught 74 passes in his three-year college career, showed reliable hands with at least four catches out of the backfield.
--Ellington had a scary moment when he slipped coming out of break and was slow to get up. He ended up making three catches later in the practice. Earlier when he ran an end-around, he was advised to carry the ball in his outside arm.
--Only LaMichael James and Devon Wylie were back fielding punts. On a windy day, James looked comfortable catching the ball.
--Wide receiver Chuck Jacobs, who spent last season on the practice squad, had a good day. He caught passes from Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, Josh Johnson and Bethel-Thompson against the 49ers’ defense. Jacobs caught a nice touchdown pass from Bethel-Thompson on a slant against the coverage of rookie cornerback Kenneth Acker.
--Cornerback Darryl Morris had good deep coverage against Jacobs during one-on-ones on a double-move. Gabbert’s pass fell incomplete.
--Carrier made a nice leaping catch for a touchdown from Johnson over cornerback Eric Wright.
--Tight end Vance McDonald caught a 5-yard scoring pass on a pass Kaepernick drilled between two defenders. Garrett Celek dropped a couple of passes.
--Kaepernick was generally accurate on his short passes, which appeared to be a focus in Tuesday’s session. But he badly overthrew one deep in-route intended for Osgood.
--Brandon Lloyd appears to be taking advantage of the absences of the 49ers’ top three wide receivers with another strong day. He made one particularly impressive catch along the left sideline on a pass that Gabbert threw behind him.
--Dontae Johnson broke up a Bethel-Thompson pass intended for Osgood in the end zone at the end of the hour-long offense vs. defense portion of practice.