Training camp Day 2: Hunter goes down; Gabbert, Carrier shine
07/25/2014 6:05 PM
07/25/2014 6:13 PM
The second full practice of training camp was marked by an injury to running back Kendall Hunter. After catching a quick swing pass from Blaine Gabbert, Hunter tried to juke incoming Perrish Cox, but his right knee locked up and Hunter went to the ground.
A few seconds later, Cox pulled the running back to his feet, but he was on the ground again for several minutes while being tended to by trainers. He later walked off the field with head trainer Jeff Ferguson slowly but under his own power.
Hunter suffered an Achilles' tear in November of 2012, his second season with the 49ers, but made a complete recovery last season. He rushed for 358 yards and averaged 4.6 yards a carry. Hunter has been Frank Gore's main backup since being taken in the fourth round in 2011. LaMichael James filled in when Hunter was hurt in 2012.
On Friday, the running back repetitions were spread evenly among Gore, James, rookie Carlos Hyde and Jewel Hampton. Marcus Lattimore (knee/hamstring) continues to work out on a side field.
Hyde had a couple of drops in Thursday's practice, but his hands were back to normal in the Friday session and he caught a couple of passes. In fact, the offense overall was sharper. Colin Kaepernick hit five straight passes early in practice, including a down-the-middle dart to tight end Derek Carrier.
Gabbert, the presumed second-string quarterback, has looked sharp over the first two days. The 49ers, of course, have five – count 'em, FIVE! – quarterbacks in camp, so repetitions are treasured. Gabbert made the most of his, at one point hitting Vernon Davis, Devon Wylie and rookie tight end Kevin Greene on three consecutive throws.
Carrier also had a big day. The one-time college wide receiver had at least three catches in 11-on-11 situations, at one point going to the grass to pluck a low ball off the ground. Carrier is battling Garrett Celek for the role of No. 3 tight end and is getting a bit of a head start in the competition due to the back injury that has kept Celek out of action early.
Perhaps the best sign for Carrier today: He did a nice job fending off backup nose tackle Quinton Dial, who outweighs him by a significant margin, on an outside running play. Of course, the true test for Carrier and others trying to prove themselves as blockers will come Saturday when full pads go on for the first time.
On defense, Jimmie Ward again was active. He was in the nickel cornerback position he played Thursday. He also got a lot of snaps at free safety playing opposite both Craig Dahl and C.J. Spillman at various times. Both opportunities were with the second-string defense.
There were no interceptions, although linebacker Chase Thomas should have had one when Kaepernick, eying Vance McDonald over the middle, threw a pass into Thomas' chest that fell harmlessly to the ground. On the next play, however, Thomas teamed with Dial to blow up a Gore running play.
Justin Smith (shoulder) is not practicing and Ray McDonald does not take a lot of reps. That has given backups like Tank Carradine and Tony Jerod-Eddie plenty of action. Carradine, who mainly lined up on the right side in the spring, was on the left side today.
The 49ers offensive line has remained amazingly intact over the last three seasons. Early in camp, however, they have three new starters. Daniel Kilgore is at center for Jonathan Goodwin, who is back with the Saints. Joe Looney is at right guard for contract holdout Alex Boone. And Jonathan Martin is playing right tackle for Anthony Davis, who is coming off of offseason shoulder surgery.
The second-team offensive line is composed like this:
center: Dillon Farrell
left guard: Al Netter
right guard: Fou Fonoti
left tackle: Ryan Seymour
right tackle: Carter Bykowski
Fourth-round draft pick Bruce Ellington (ankle) was taken off the PUP list today but did not practice. … The team filled the 90th roster spot with Kyle Nelson, who competed at longsnapper in previous years. That job is now Kevin McDermott's, and Nelson (6-2, 240) is listed as a tight end/wide receiver. He warmed up with the tight ends.
One of the downsides to having tours of the new stadium? Nosy fans peeking over the side from the top row onto Jim Harbaugh's sacrosanct practice. That caught the coach's eye today, and he wasn't happy. I mean, how does he know they aren't Pete Carroll's relatives? Security was summoned, and it's a good bet the top row will be off limits from here on out.
About This BlogMatt Barrows was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Sacramento Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the San Francisco 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green. Reach Barrows at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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