SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick had perhaps his best practice of training camp, one that included a big, seam-route throw to tight end Vernon Davis.
That was once a staple of the 49ers offense, both when Alex Smith was under center and when Kaepernick took over as starter. But it disappeared for virtually all of last season. Davis' longest play of the year? A 29-yard touchdown in Week 1. He didn't have any touchdowns from that point on.
On Wednesday, however, the 49ers were working just outside of the red zone when Davis took off. Tramaine Brock, working as the nickel cornerback, picked him up and Kaepernick lofted a pass that hit the tight end five yards before the end line. Davis spiked the ball at Brock's feet afterward for emphasis. Craig Dahl also was back in coverage on the play.
Overall, Kaepernick went 11-14 in 11-on-11 or team drills. Another end-zone throw -- this one to running back Carlos Hyde -- was more precarious, but had similar results.
Kaepernick bought extra time to throw on a broken play and saw Hyde come free in the end zone. He threw a dart to the tailback that initially deflected straight into the air but was brought down by Hyde for a touchdown.
Why is Anquan Boldin Kaepernick's favorite target. An early-practice throw underscored the answer. Kaepernick was throwing a short-range pass to Boldin when Brock, adept at jumping routes, tried to get in front of the pass. Boldin, who is one of the strongest receivers in the league, essentially screened off the cornerback and instead of an interception, Brock only deflected the ball in the air. Boldin then outmuscled Brock for the reception.
Kaepernick also hit tight end Vance McDonald deep on the first play of 11-on-11 drills, although there is some question as to whether the ball hit the ground. ... Kaepernick's numbers would have been better had Reggie Bush been able to gather in a short screen. The 49ers offense caught NaVorro Bowman blitzing on the play -- a notable down-side of a blitz-happy defense -- and Bush was uncovered. If he had caught it, it would have gone for a big gain, but the ball went off his hand instead. Bowman affected the trajectory of the pass.
The 49ers have not had a full fight in training camp. But they had what is best termed a 'scrap' on Wednesday. It came during a short-yardage play and involved right tackle Erik Pears and left defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie. There was some facemask pulling before they were separated but not much beyond that. Quinton Dial returned to practice but was eased into team drills.
The 49ers' goal-line defense features Jerod-Eddie, Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey and Tank Carradine along the defensive line and has three inside linebackers.
Ian Silberman had another bad shotgun snap during the two-minute drill with the second-team offense. But it's clear that the coaches are high on the sixth-round pick and are giving him plenty of opportunities. If Silberman were to be in uniform this season, they'd like for him to be able to play two spots -- guard and center. They’re curious if he can handle the responsibility.
Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst today said that Jarryd Hayne would be worked into "all facets" of Saturday's game in Houston. That implies that he'll play running back and also be used on special teams units, including punt returns.
Hayne looked good in pass-blocking drills today, drawing 'attaboys' from running backs coach Tom Rathman for the way he stonewalled Nick Moody on a blitz pickup. Hayne later allowed linebacker Shayne Skov to get around him but fared much better in his second match-up with Skov. After the drill, the two discussed technique.
Antoine Bethea was given a day off of practice, which is why Dahl was in with the first-team defense. Jaquiski Tartt and L.J. McCray were the second-team safeties.
Chuck Jacobs returned to practice after missing Tuesday's session. Bruce Ellington (leg strain) and Dres Anderson (soreness) did not practice. Inside linebacker Philip Wheeler did not practice.