Practice 15: James returns to field

Practice 15: James returns to field
August 13, 2014, 6:00 pm
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LaMichael James averaged 10.9 yards per punt return in 2013. (USATSI)

Programming note: For comprehensive 49ers coverage from Santa Clara, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6, 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

SANTA CLARA –- Running back LaMichael James, wearing a brace on his right elbow, practiced Wednesday for the first time since sustaining a dislocation more than two weeks ago.

James took part in individual and team drills while wearing blue non-contact jersey. He caught passes out of the backfield and took handoffs in team drills.

It is not known if the 49ers plan for James to play in the exhibition season, but he is expected to be available for game action well ahead of the 49ers’ season opener on Sept. 7 at the Dallas Cowboys. James figures to be the 49ers' No. 3 running back and return specialist.

[RELATED: Practice 14: 49ers rave about joint practices with Ravens]

James sustained a dislocated right elbow during a routine blitz pickup drill on July 27. He took part in limited individual drills during the 49ers' three days of practices with the Baltimore Ravens.

In other notes, observations and highlights from Wednesday’s practice . . .

--Linebacker Patrick Willis did not take part in practice for unknown reasons. Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin was excused due to the death of his grandmother. He traveled back to Pittsburgh.

--The 49ers finally have their starting defensive line together. Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Ian Williams each saw extensive practice time in team drills. Smith showed his power when he inadvertently knocked down running back Carlos Hyde on an inside running play.

--Wide receiver Michael Crabtree and cornerback Tramaine Brock suited up in pads but did not take part in individual drills. They took part in half-speed work against each other while most of the team was taking part in special-teams drills. Brandon Lloyd returned to practice and caught a couple of passes in 11-on-11 work.

--Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs left practice early with a trainer for undisclosed reasons.

[RELATED: 49ers get six players back at Wednesday's practice]

--Rookie cornerback Kenneth Acker, a sixth-round draft pick from SMU, had his best day on the practice field with two interceptions. Acker jumped in front of a Blaine Gabbert pass intended for Bruce Ellington for his first interception. Then, he ended a two-minute drill with an interception of McLeod Bethel-Thompson on a pass intended for David Reed.

--Cornerback Perrish Cox made an exceptional play to intercept a 40-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick intended for Quinton Patton in the back right corner of the end zone. A staff member made a controversial call on the sideline to ruled Cox caught the ball out of bounds.

--That two-minute sequence ended two plays later when Kaepernick and Carlos Hyde mishandled a read-option snap. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks scooped up the fumble.

--Brooks had a strong day working against right tackle Ryan Seymour, who was filling in for Martin.

--Reed sustained a left hand injury but returned to action. Guard Mike Iupati sustained an apparent right foot injury, but he did not miss much action, either. Tight end Vance McDonald, like James, wore a blue jersey after missing the three days of practices with the Baltimore Ravens.

--The 49ers had a goal-line session with the backups that included live tackling. On a fourth-and-goal from the 1, new running back Glenn Winston went over the top for the touchdown.

--The 49ers have a day off from practice on Thursday. They return to work Friday evening for an open practice at Levi's Stadium.

Participation report
Daily transactions: The 49ers activated NT Ian Williams from the physically-unable-to-perform list on Tuesday; placed LB Blake Costanzo on injured reserve on Wednesday; signed free-agent LB Kion Wilson.
Returned to practice: RB LaMichael James (elbow), TE Vance McDonald (NA), DL Justin Smith (shoulder), DL Ray McDonald (biceps), NT Ian Williams (leg), CB Chris Culliver (NA), WR Brandon Lloyd (hamstring).
Limited practice: WR Michael Crabtree (hamstring), CB Tramaine Brock (ankle), OL Lawrence Okoye (ankle).
Did not practice: LB Patrick Willis (NA), OT Jonathan Martin (bereavement), OL Adam Snyder (knee), CB Chris Cook (NA), RT Anthony Davis (shoulder).
Physically unable to perform: LB NaVorro Bowman (knee), TE Garrett Celek (back), DL Kaleb Ramsey (NA).
Non-football injury: RB Marcus Lattimore (knee/hamstring), FB Trey Millard (knee), CB Keith Reaser (knee) and G Brandon Thomas (knee).
Reserve/did not report: RG Alex Boone (contract holdout).