I guess there’s a first time for everything, and today I saw my first training camp practice fight. According to the other beat writers, they’re pretty rare. Today’s came after a short pass to D.J. Harper, and then it was a blur. I looked down to jot down the pass in my notes, and then I heard some yelling. When I looked up, there were two 49ers defensive backs going after each other.
The pair hit the ground quickly, and Jim Harbaugh lunged toward them as the rest of the players gathered around. Soon we saw the combatants: safety Michael Thomas was pulled away from the area by a couple teammates, and C.J. Spillman was sent off the practice field altogether.
What caused the fight? None of the people covering practice could tell, and generally fights between two guys on the same side of the ball are quite uncommon. Nobody appeared any worse for wear afterward, including Harbaugh, although there was a pretty good-sized rip in one of the legs of Spillman’s black workout pants that we could see as he trudged off to the locker room.
Actual practice notes
– After a five-interception day for the quarterbacks yesterday (four for B.J. Daniels), the 49ers were INT-free on Tuesday evening. The (unofficial) completion numbers for QBs 1-through-4 looked like this:
- Colin Kaepernick: 15-for-23
- Colt McCoy: 13-for-16
- Scott Tolzien: 10-for-19
- B.J. Daniels: 10-for-14
– The 49ers practiced in shorts today with no pads, so the defense wasn’t as aggressive as they were yesterday. As a result, the pass rush that forced the 49ers’ quarterbacks to scramble and throw the ball away on several occasions yesterday was a non-factor today.
– Thomas had a pass breakup on a Daniels pass intended for Austin Collie, and Collie was rubbing his neck in apparent pain after the play. It turned out to be nothing, but Collie’s history makes you nervous on plays like those.
– A lot was made yesterday of A.J. Jenkins not catching a single pass during practice, and hey … he didn’t get shut out on Tuesday! Jenkins caught three passes from Kaepernick, all in the range of about 15-to-20 yards. The best reception Jenkins made — when he caught a Kaepernick pass on the left sideline at the 1-yard-line — was actually not a legitimate reception. Even though a 49ers employee nearby enthusiastically gave the “catch” signal with both arms, Jenkins’ second foot landed out of bounds. Still, it looked like Kaepernick made a concerted effort to target Jenkins, and overall the results were pretty good.
– Yet the wide receiver who made the biggest impact was Kyle Williams. Williams caught three passes from Daniels, the last a 40-yarder to Williams’ back shoulder against Marcus Cooper. It was pretty much the same play we saw yesterday, when Marlon Moore caught a pass in the same spot thrown by Kaepernick against Cooper.
– Harper had more receptions than anyone with six, but they were all of the dump-off variety. Garrett Celek caught five passes, and Williams, Vernon Davis and Collie all had four catches.
– MarQueis Gray made a nice grab on a 25-yard pass across the middle from Tolzien, grabbing the ball inches above Donte Whitner’s helmet.
– While Spillman is listed as the starter on this week’s preseason depth chart at free safety, Eric Reid was playing next to Whitner throughout practice. Maybe that’s why Spillman was in a bad mood.
– Ray McDonald and Will Tukuafu (who’s looked pretty good throughout camp) both registered pass deflections.
– Tolzien probably should’ve had an interception on a 25-yard pass Trenton Robinson dropped in front of the end zone.
– At this point it’s clear the 49ers are keeping Anquan Boldin from getting too involved on offense to protect him. Good call.
– Earlier today I asked Reid about how the coaches teach him and the rest of the defensive players how to make big hits since they aren’t allowed during practice. The story also includes some interesting comments from NaVorro Bowman about the NFL’s new rules and fines.
– Frank Gore wears both the shortest uniform pants (they’re actually more like bike shorts) and then he’ll throw the baggiest black warmup pants you’ve ever seen over them. Gore tried his hand at kickoff coverage at one point, but was the last guy down the field as his pants kept falling and he needed to pull them up a few times before getting to the 20-yard-line.
– And as visual proof that when Jenkins looks like a viable NFL receiver with strong hands when he snatches a ball out of the air, here’s a photo of him catching a ball in one-on-one drills against Darryl Morris at the beginning of practice (when cameras are allowed — we’re told to put the cameras away once the 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 stuff starts):