SANTA CLARA -- A week ago, it seemed as if outside linebacker Aaron Lynch was ahead of tight end Vance McDonald in the league's post-concussion protocol.
Both suffered head injuries Dec. 6 against Chicago. Lynch, however, practiced last week and traveled to Cleveland. McDonald stayed behind in Santa Clara. Before the game, however, Lynch was declared inactive.
"Just talking to the trainers, they just didn’t like where he was at," Jim Tomsula said Wednesday. "So they thought it would be best if we just shut him down that day and get ready to go this week. Purely medical there."
This week, however, it seems as if McDonald has progressed more quickly than Lynch. The tight end is out of his blue, no contact jersey and practiced in full Thursday for the first time since the injury. Lynch also practiced but remains in a blue jersey and was listed as limited.
The two cases underscore the murky nature of head injuries, which, anecdotally at least, seem like they are being treated with more caution and longer recoveries this year than they have in the last few years.
Elsewhere, receiver Torrey Smith (back, toe) missed his second straight practice, calling into question whether he will miss his first-ever NFL game due to injury. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman and running back Kendall Gaskins (concussion) returned to practice.
Did not practice: G Alex Boone (knee), WR Torrey Smith (back, toe), LB Michael Wilhoite (ankle)
Limited: DT Quinton Dial (shoulder), RB Kendall Gaskins (concussion), LB Eli Harold (shoulder, hamstring), LB Aaron Lynch (concussion), C Marcus Martin (ankle), T Erik Pears (knee), T Joe Staley (knee), S Jaquiski Tartt (ankle), G Andrew Tiller (knee)
Full: DT Arik Armstead (shoulder), WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring), LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder, finger), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), TE Vance McDonald (concussion), DT Mike Purcell (shoulder), S Eric Reid (shoulder), S Jimmie Ward (elbow)
Out: QB Andy Dalton (thumb)
Did not practice: LB Vontaze Burfict (knee), TE Tyler Eifert (concussion), T Jake Fisher (concussion), S George Iloka (groin
Limited: CB Leon Hall (back), CB Adam Jones (foot), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee
Full: C Russell Bodine (finger), DE Michael Johnson (back), T Andrew Whitworth (knee)