San Francisco 49ers

49ers TC12: Players scuffle as team welcomes back three

Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (59) had his most prolific practice of the offseason on Tuesday.
Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (59) had his most prolific practice of the offseason on Tuesday. The Bee

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers were missing one starter, Glenn Dorsey, due to a minor injury Tuesday, but they welcomed back three likely contributors this season: running back Kendall Hunter, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch and safety Jimmie Ward.

All three had been held out of recent team drills while they returned from various injuries. Of that group, Lynch could have the biggest role in 2015. He tied for the team lead last year with six sacks despite starting only three games. With Aldon Smith off the roster, the 49ers need someone to line up opposite Ahmad Brooks at outside linebacker.

Brooks started Saturday's game on the right side of the line, which makes room for Lynch to move in to left outside linebacker, his primary role last season. Lynch dealt with a back injury during the offseason and has been slowly working his way back into shape during training camp.

Hunter is jockeying for position at running back behind starter Carlos Hyde. Ward, meanwhile, hasn't gone through a full practice since re-injuring his foot in November. He was worked in at safety at times with both the second- and third-team groups. Though he played nickel cornerback last year, the 49ers seem committed toward Tramaine Brock in that role this year.

Dorsey is dealing with a muscle strain. Tony Jerod-Eddie filled in at left defensive end with the first-team defense. Dorsey's absence also allowed Arik Armstead to practice with the second-team defense.

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There were no obvious changes in the composition of the offensive line despite Brandon Thomas' solid performance Saturday in Houston. As usual, Marcus Martin mainly played right guard with the first-team offense and Joe Looney mainly played center. Thomas saw a few snaps at right guard with the top offensive line. But so did rookie Ian Silberman. That's no different from last week.

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Today's practice was the spiciest to date. There were no all-out brawls as was the case in Oxnard between the Cowboys (the 49ers' Sunday opponent) and Rams. Right tackle Erik Pears was involved in a face-mask pulling session early. Then linebacker Shayne Skov and left tackle Patrick Miller got into a tussle.

I'm not permitted to report what was said, but it's safe to say that Jim Tomsula was not happy that the "Tempo! Tempo! Tempo!" he's been emphasizing all offseason was compromised by hot heads. The 49ers were attempting a last-second field goal at the time and the operation was disrupted.

Later defensive end Tank Carradine had to be restrained by teammates after getting into a fight on the sideline. Oddly, there was no fight after the cheapest hit of the day, which Lynch delivered on tight end Vance McDonald at the sideline. The 49ers are not supposed to knock each other to the ground and Lynch put a good lick on McDonald as he was going out of bounds. The tight end, however, popped to his feet and ran back to the huddle and his offensive teammates did not make so much a peep of protest.

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Coming off his solid performance in Houston, Skov picked off Dylan Thompson on a downfield throw to tight end Busta Anderson (No. 48 on No. 48 crime). Later, a Thompson pass to DiAndre Campbell was tipped by the receiver and intercepted by Dontae Johnson.

Safety Craig Dahl should have had an interception on a deep throw from Colin Kaepernick to Vernon Davis. Dahl had a read on the ball. But when he leaped, he ended up tipping the pass to Davis for a 45-yard completion.

Receiver Dres Anderson returned to practice but Bruce Ellington (muscle strain) continues to sit out the sessions. Another receiver, DeAndre Smelter, spent the early part of practice running sprints with a long, heavy chain tied to his waist. Smelter is returning from a Nov. 29 ACL tear. The 49ers are holding out hope he can return at some point during the season.

Linebacker Desmond Bishop was practicing. Bishop left Saturday’s game with a calf injury.

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Music watch: 49ers practice began with "Pony" by Ginuwine blaring over the loudspeakers. Tomsula, however, didn't like the selection and asked to skip to the next track, which was Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name." It could have been the best call of his tenure thus far.

Grass watch: The 49ers rolled down new sod after back-to-back Taylor Swift concerts last week. The field will be used for the 49ers-Cowboys game in five days.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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