On Saturday, the San Francisco 49ers held their sixth practice since opening training camp on July 30. This practice, like others, started at 10:25 AM and was the shortest of training camp lasting just an hour and 11 minutes according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Prior to practice, defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil met with the media to answer questions.
Players wore shells and shorts during Saturday's practice, not full pads. "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," said Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.
Country singer Kenny Chesney was on hand to observe. He will hold a concert tonight at Levi's Stadium.
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Here are some notes from today's practice based on observations by the media.
Tartt and Smith return to practice
As noted by Jim O'Neil, SS Jaquiski Tartt (leg) did indeed join practice today after starting training camp on the Active/Non-Football Injury list. The team limited him, but he was out there. "Obviously we're excited about getting him back," said O'Neil prior to practice. "He brings a lot of versatility to our defense and he's going to be part of our plans."
#49ers announce S Jaquiski Tartt has been activated from the Active/Non-Football Injury List.— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 6, 2016
WR Torrey Smith (knee) also returned to practice after missing Friday. He got a bit banged up during Thursday's practice. Smith did not catch any passes during team drills.
"During seven-on-seven drills, Gabbert hit Quinton Patton on a deep throw against cornerback Keith Reaser," said Matt Barrows.
"(Chip Kelly) began installing plays which feature the quarterback under center," reports Grant Cohn of the Press Democrat. "Worked on these plays during individual drills, team drills and teach periods. Primarily ran inside zone plays, draws and play-action rollout passes from these formations. Colin Kaepernick completed a deep pass to Bruce Ellington on a play-action rollout to the right."
"Unofficially, Kaepernick completed four of five throws in 11-on-11s," reports Chris Biderman of Niners Wire. "Gabbert connected on four of six. Each quarterback only had eight plays in full-team reps for the day."
Matt Barrows reports that Gabbert's lone incompletion during 7-on-7 drills was intended for WR DeAndre Smelter, which is discussed below. Kaepernick's lone incompletion during 7-on-7 drills was a deep end zone attempt to rookie WR Aaron Burbridge that was broken up by CB Kenneth Acker.
"The defensive backs looked like they were instructed to play hands-off, in stark contrast to the first five practices, allowing receivers clean breaks from the line of scrimmage," reports Biderman. "It allowed some easy receptions for the team's inexperienced receivers and tight ends, which have been hard to come by in the early going."
How is rookie Jeff Driskel doing? "Completed 4 of 5 passes," reports Cohn. "Has completed 28 of 41 (68.3 percent) the past four practices."
As mentioned, Torrey Smith returned to the practice field after a day off with a minor knee injury. Grant Cohn feels that Quinton Patton has been the team's best wide receiver on the field over the past two days and that he seemed like a lock to start opposite Smith against the Los Angeles Rams during Week 1. "Beat Keith Reaser with a post route for a long catch on the first play of 7 on 7s," reports Cohn. Matt Barrows agreed with that assessment.
Cohn feels that WR DiAndre Campbell and Colin Kaepernick have good chemistry as the two connected three times today. Campbell had a team-high four catches during practice.
Cohn was not impressed with DeAndre Smelter calling him "slow." He couldn't get close enough to a long pass from Gabbert against CB Rashard Robinson, who looked as though he wasn't giving 100 percent on the play. "Seems unable to get open deep or make contested catches downfield," Cohn said of Smelter regarding today's practice.
"Quinton Patton provided the best highlight on a pad-less day of work," said Taylor Price of 49ers Media. "The fourth-year receiver caught a 40-yard deep ball from Blaine Gabbert down the left hashmarks."
While Campbell and Kaepernick reportedly have chemistry with each other, Grant Cohn believes that TE Vance McDonald and QB Blaine Gabbert are syncing up well. "Made two catches, including a deep catch while running a post route against Brock," reports Cohn. "Both passes McDonald caught were thrown by Blaine Gabbert."
Blake Bell hauled in a deep pass from Kaepernick after beating CB Will Redmond. "Second-year tight end Blake Bell made his most impressive catch of camp on a 25-yard seam pass from Kaepernick during 7-on-7 work," said Taylor Price.
First-team (left to right): Joe Staley, Zane Beadles, Daniel Kilgore, Andrew Tiller, Trent Brown
OG Joshua Garnett and OT Anthony Davis continue to work with the second-team offense.
First-team: DeForest Buckner, Quinton Dial, Arik Armstead
"First-round draft pick DeForest Buckner put his 6-foot-7 body to good use by knocking down Kaepernick's first throw of the final 11-on-11 period," said Taylor Price.
Ray-Ray Armstrong worked inside next to NaVorro Bowman as the team's competition at inside linebacker continues. "If all three of them deserve to play, then they all will," said Jim O'Neil prior to practice. "If somebody clearly separates themselves, then that'll be the guy that we go with. But, I think you're looking for a guy you can trust out there to execute the scheme. A guy with playmaking ability. Can he cover? Can he blitz? How stout is he in the run game? How is he as a communicator next to NaVorro and with the safeties behind him? So, there's a lot of factors that go into it. We probably overthink it a little bit too much. I think at some point, it's going to pop off the tape or it won't and if one guy just doesn't pop off the tape, then we'll play with all three of them."
Eli Harold started at outside linebacker today. "If Week 1 were tomorrow, Ahmad Brooks (left) and Harold (right) would be the starters at the position due to Aaron Lynch's suspension," said Matt Barrows.
"Newcomer Cleveland Wallace also went through his first practice," reports Matt Barrows. "He is listed as a defensive back but ended up playing right cornerback with the third team on Saturday."
Jimmie Ward got some work at the slot position.
Rashard Robinson had the attention of the trainers. He was limping throughout practice. It is not believed to be serious.
Head coach Chip Kelly is scheduled to meet with the media at 10:10 AM. The team's practice, which is open to reporters, is scheduled to follow at 10:25 AM. Players will be made available following practice.