Training camp practice No. 6 was a good one for 49ers defensive backs with Darryl Morris, rookies Dontae Johnson and Jimmie Ward and especially Perrish Cox making plays throughout the session.
Cox has been filling in at one of the starting cornerback spots while Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver sit out with minor ailments. He appeared to get caught out of position during an early 11-on-11 drills, but Colin Kaepernick's deep pass to Anquan Boldin hung in the air. Cox raced backward and made a nice over-the-shoulder snag for an interception.
He had another later in practice during a hurry-up offense scenario. Kaepernick tried a quick out pass to Quinton Patton, and Cox broke quickly on the ball for a diving interception. However, he fumbled it when he tried to get up and run downfield.
Johnson, meanwhile, is one of several cornerbacks on the team that are as big as safeties. In fact, the 49ers' safeties – especially Ward and Antoine Bethea – look like cornerbacks while the cornerbacks – especially Johnson and Chris Cook – look like traditional safeties.
Johnson made a nice play when he swatted a ball away from Boldin (not an easy task; just ask Carlos Rogers) after what looked like an apparent reception.
Ward, meanwhile, knocked a ball from Brandon Lloyd during one-on-one drills. Then he knocked away -- and nearly intercepted -- a quick pass to Devon Wylie from McLeod Bethel-Thompson. He also outraced Blaine Gabbert to the corner on a quarterback keeper. The early reviews on Ward, obviously, continue to be very promising.
The offense also has had its moments.
I've resisted writing about receiver Davis Reed (6-0, 190) because there are so many other bigger-name receivers on the squad. But he has been consistently productive over the last few practices, including today's.
Reed doesn't have great size. But he's quick and has been reliable over the middle, including on a sliding pass from Gabbert with a safety closing in on him late in today's practice. Kaepernick also hit Reed for a touchdown on a nice fade pattern against Chris Cook. Cook has been strong in training camp but did not have his best practice today.
I'm not sure if it's possible to pancake guard Mike Iupati. But Tank Carradine came awfully close during one-on-one pass-rush drills when he forced the big left guard backward several steps. Everyone who is asked about Carradine invariably talks about his strength, and that's been evident in this drill.
Carradine was the starting right defensive end in place of Justin Smith (shoulder). Tony Jerod-Eddie was the starting left defensive end in place of Ray McDonald (leg). Dan Skuta took nearly all of the first-team snaps at right outside linebacker with Aldon Smith in Los Angeles. Corey Lemonier played mostly on the second-team defense.
The other lineman who continually stands out is Quinton Dial. Today's was the fourth straight padded practice, and you could tell that tempers were starting to fray a bit. It seems that Dial is involved whenever there's some harsh words exchanged. That is, he might have a bit of jerkishness in him (just ask Aaron Murray).
Dial also was involved in a play that sent Adam Snyder out for a few snaps. Snyder seemed to be working through an ankle/foot issue when Dial fell on top of him on a play. Joe Looney, who has been playing right guard with the first-team offense, filled in for Snyder at guard with the second-team offense for a few snaps. Snyder later returned to gut out the rest of practice.
Newcomer Michael Philipp also filled in some at guard but was obviously behind the curve, including on a blatant false start. Harbaugh said that he recruited Philipp at Stanford, that Philipp was admitted to Stanford, but that he ultimately chose to play at Oregon State. (You can bet Harbaugh's first question to Philipp upon his arrival in Santa Clara was: So why'd you choose the Beavers?)
Observed: Anthony Davis doing a boxing drill – delivering punches, complete with sparring gloves – with strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama. That is, Davis' surgically repaired shoulder was getting a good workout. There's been no stated timetable on his return.
The quarterbacks took another shot at the “butterfly net” drill from 40 yards away, but still no one hit the target. Bethel-Thompson nicked the rim and Kaepernick hit the underside of the net.
With LaMichael James (elbow) out, Carlos Hyde took some kick returns. Hyde also looked solid as a runner, at one point eliciting praise from the coaches on run to the left side. ... Michael Crabtree had an abbreviated practice. If he is dealing with an injury, it did not appear to be serious. ... Another receiver, Jon Baldwin, was not on the field. Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs didn’t practice, either.