SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers had a half-day today.
After conducting their last three practices in full pads, the team was in shorts Saturday and had their shortest session to date: About 70 minutes.
The light-on-contact practice seemed to benefit the passing offense, which has had trouble in recent days finding a rhythm against the team's aggressive -- perhaps too aggressive -- defensive backs.
There wasn't much hand-checking at the line of scrimmage, and as a result Colin Kaepernick went 4-5 in team drills while Blaine Gabbert was 4-6. Kaepernick's best throw was a deep crossing pattern to Bruce Ellington, who had gotten a step on safety Eric Reid. During seven-on-seven drills, Gabbert hit Quinton Patton on a deep throw against cornerback Keith Reaser.
Gabbert was 3-4 in seven on sevens; His lone incompletion was an obvious drop by receiver DeAndre Smelter. Kaepernick also went 3-4 in seven on sevens; His incompletion was a deep, end-zone attempt to rookie Aaron Burbridge that was broken up by cornerback Kenneth Acker.
So far in spring and summer practices, the biggest plays by wide receivers usually have been made by Torrey Smith. Smith was back at practice Saturday after sitting out Friday's session. But it must have been nice for offensive coaches to see Ellington and Patton, the likeliest Week 1 starters along with Smith, making a few nice catches.
Also back in practice: safety Jaquiski Tartt, who was activated off the non-football injury list. Tartt was worked in as a third safety with the first-string defense during one of the team drills. Newcomer Cleveland Wallace (San Jose State) also went through his first practice. He is listed as a defensive back but ended up playing right cornerback with the third team on Saturday.
Even defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil admits the defensive backs have been too grabby in practice. He noted that rookie cornerbacks like Will Redmond and Rashard Robinson never dealt with the no-contact-after-five-yards rule in college. Which is why he sometimes has them wear boxing gloves which prevent them from clasping on their opponents.
“We still are probably grabbing a little bit too much downfield,” he said. “But I think our guys have gotten a lot better through the first week of camp.”
The first-team offensive line continues to be, from left to right, Joe Staley, Zane Beadles, Daniel Kilgore, Andrew Tiller and Trent Brown. First-round draft pick Joshua Garnett and Anthony Davis continue to work with the second-team unit at guard and tackle respectively.
On defense, the first-team linemen were DeForest Buckner, Quinton Dial and Arik Armstead. (Average height: 6-6 1/2). Is was Ray-Ray Armstrong's turn to work next to NaVorro Bowman at inside linebacker. At outside linebacker, Eli Harold worked with the first-team unit. If Week 1 were tomorrow, Ahmad Brooks (left) and Harold (right) would be the starters at the position due to Aaron Lynch's suspension.
Good-looking rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson was limping throughout practice and received a lot of attention from trainers. However, he worked out in the weight area with his teammates after practice, suggesting that whatever is bothering him is not serious.
Country music singer Kenny Chesney is taking the stage at Levi's Stadium this evening. Not only were Chesney songs -- something about a sexy tractor? -- playing on the speakers during practice, Chesney himself was on the field chatting up Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke among others. It would be no surprise if Kelly attends tonight’s concert; no word on whether Henry the Golden Retriever also has a ticket.