The catch of the day in Tuesday’s OTA session was turned in not by a wide receiver or a tight end but by a quarterback. Lined up as a wideout during seven-on-seven drills, Josh Johnson had a dazzling reception along the end line of the end zone on a ball he wrestled from rookie corner Dontae Johnson.
Josh Johnson, who threw a couple of touchdowns during the same drill, said he would play wideout from time to time when he was with the Buccaneers and the team was low on pass catchers. That was the case today. Starters Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin were not on hand. Stevie Johnson still is dealing with a minor hamstring injury that kept him out of last week's session while Quinton Patton (foot) was hurt in Monday's session.
Furthermore, trainers were looking at Devon Wylie midway through practice and he didn't return to the drills. So Johnson stepped in. “Just doing it to protect my teammates,” he said. He also credited McLeod Bethel-Thompson, with whom he is competing for a roster spot, for the pass on which he scored a touchdown.
With so many receivers absent, veteran Brandon Lloyd was by far the most popular target. He's looked good – very good – in both sessions that have been open to the media. Chuck Jacobs, who spent last season on the 49ers' practice squad, also caught a lot of passes as did Kassim Osgood.
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* When practice began, Chris Culliver was one of the starting cornerbacks. He went through the first team drill, then left to work individually with trainers. He's still rehabilitating from his ACL tear, but all signs look positive and he may be full go for training camp.
When Culliver stepped away, it seemed like Chris Cook got the bulk of the action opposite Tramaine Brock with the first-team defense. Cook, a free-agent pickup, is tall and long limbed and is the most physically impressive cornerback out there. The second-team cornerbacks were Eric Wright and Dontae Johnson. As was the case last week, Perrish Cox and Darryl Morris played nickel cornerback.
* Marcus Lattimore had a light practice. He caught several passes, including one in the flat he caught and then took up the sideline. He again did not look as if he was going at full speed, but he was perhaps more fluid than last week as he continues to return from a hamstring strain. Frank Gore was on hand early in practice but left midway and did not take any carries. Rookie runner Carlos Hyde was back from the rookie premiere but did not see a lot of action.
* Vernon Davis and Alex Boone continued to be no shows. Both are seeking new contracts. Rookie Asante Cleveland returned from his hamstring strain, which alleviated the shortage at tight end. Another great catch was turned in by Derek Carrier, who leaped high in the back of the end zone to catch a fireball from Josh Johnson. As for Boone, Joe Looney continued to line up at his right guard spot. Adam Snyder played right tackle in place of Anthony Davis, who is rehabilitating from a shoulder injury.
Another tight end, Garrett Celek, had a couple of drops. The 49ers at some point might have to decide between Celek's strength/blocking ability and Carrier's athleticism. Carrier, of course, is a former wide receiver the 49ers are trying to convert to tight end.
* Patrick Willis spoke after practice and said that he may play NaVorro Bowman's usual inside linebacker spot this season. That's where Willis mostly lined up today. Michael Wilhoite continued to get the lion's share of repetitions beside Willis.
* Nose tackle Ian Williams said he has had four surgeries since suffering a broken ankle in September. The last of those occurred in late February. He said the biggest issue wasn't the broken bone – low on his fibula – but the torn ligaments that left his foot “dangling” off his lower leg when the injury occurred. He said he hoped to be back for training camp.
Seattle guard J.R. Sweezy, whose low block injured Williams in Week 2, was not penalized on the play. This offseason, however, the league adopted a rule that prevents blockers from hitting a target low and then rolling up the side of the leg of the opponent.
* Sightings: Team owner John York was on hand for today's session. He spent a good portion of it chatting with Rick Kaepernick, the father of the 49ers quarterback. Colin Kaepernick's agent also was in town today to discuss a contract extension for the quarterback.