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Crowded house: Injured 49ers return to practice, including starting defensive line

08/13/2014 9:09 AM

08/13/2014 6:09 PM

When Jim Harbaugh last week said reinforcements were set to arrive on his depleted roster, he wasn't kidding.

The 49ers had their most crowded training-camp practice yet today with notables like Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Ian Williams – the presumed starting defensive line for Week 1 – together for the first time this offseason. Williams went through one-on-one pass-rush drills, was on the field for a “live” tackling session at the goal line and played perhaps a dozen snaps in team drills. That's a lot for someone who hasn't practiced since September.

Cornerback Chris Culliver practiced while Tramaine Brock went through individual drills. He's been out since spraining his ankle on July 27. Another cornerback, Chris Cook, sat out with a knee injury while Patrick Willis took the day off. His issue does not appear serious. Defensive ends Lawrence Okoye (ankle) and Demarcus Dobbs (ankle) were on hand for warmups but did not take part in the full practice.

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The offense also received a boost. Brandon Lloyd was back at practice while Michael Crabtree went through individual drills and then did some one-on-one work with Brock away from the rest of practice. LaMichael James also was back while wearing a blue, no-conatct jersey and a brace on his left arm to protect his dislocated elbow.

James took part in kick-return drills and also took some handoffs in 11-on-11 situations. Also in a blue jersey was tight end Vance McDonald who sat out the three recent practices in Owings Mills, Md. He also took part in practice.

Adam Snyder (knee) and Jonathan Martin (personal matter) did not practice. With Anthony Davis (shoulder) and Alex Boone (holdout) also missing, that left a dearth of right tackles. So Ryan Seymour, who can play every position on the offensive line, stepped in.

He had trouble on the opening snap of team drills with Aldon Smith, which was entirely expected. But he had a good showing in Maryland last week and the 49ers are eying him as one of their backup offensive linemen this year.

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As is usually the case, the defense had the stronger practice. Rookie cornerback Kenneth Acker, who has come on as of late, had two interceptions, both occuring when he ducked under the intended receiver to make the play. Acker is a sixth-round pick out of SMU. He victimized Blaine Gabbert on the first interception, McLeod Bethel-Thompson on the second.

Perrish Cox had the most dramatic play when he and receiver Quinton Patton went up high for a deep pass from Colin Kaepernick in the end zone. Cox got a little higher and came down with the ball, although there was some dispute as to whether he came down in bounds.

How is Justin Smith feeling after recovering from shoulder surgery? During one-one-one pass-rush drills, he drove the 49ers' biggest offensive lineman, Mike Iupati, backward seven steps. Then during team drills he tackled rookie running back (and 235 pounder) Carlos Hyde with one arm.

Williams also took part in the one-on-one drill and had no problems with rookie center Marcus Martin. Martin is dealing with a foot/ankle injury. He also had a couple of bad exchanges with Gabbert. It has been an inauspicious start for the third-round pick.

Aaron Lynch continues to throw his weight around. He handily beat Michael Phillip twice in pass-rush drills. But during a live tackling drill at the goal line, Lynch had a wide-open shot on running back Jewel Hampton but couldn't finish him off. Hampton ran free of the tackle – as well as attempts from safety D.J. Campbell and cornerback Dontae Johnson – and made it into the end zone. The defensive coaches were not happy about the effort.

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The 49ers avoided a potential catastrophe when left tackle Joe Staley banged knees with Aldon Smith and both were down for a moment in pain. The two players -- perhaps the offseason MVPs of their respective units -- got up gingerly and continued to practice.

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With Willis sitting out, Chris Borland and Michael Wilhoite were the “starting” inside linebackers just as they were in Thursday's game. … Running back Marcus Lattimore continues to look strong while rehabbing on his own. There is still no word when he will be taken off the NFI list, however. ....New linebacker Kion Wilson is wearing No. 58. … Agent Tom Condon took in today's practice. His client list includes Anquan Boldin, Ray McDonald, Willis and Gabbert.

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers .

About This Blog

Matt 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 mbarrows@sacbee.com.
Twitter: @mattbarrows

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