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August 15, 2012
Day 15 recap: Big hits, nice catches on ladies' night


Day 15 of 49ers training camp saw some hard hitting by the second- and third-team units as well as a couple of nicely thrown passes. The best may have been from Josh Johnson, who saw that Chris Owusu had a step on first-string cornerback Tarell Brown, then feathered the ball in over Owusu's shoulder before safety Dashon Goldson could arrive for help. Owusu made several nice catches during the team portion of practice, including two from Scott Tolzien.

Alex Smith seems to hook up with Vernon Davis on a daily basis, and Wednesday was no exception. Davis beat safeties Trenton Robinson and Darcel McBath on another deep sideline route. Smith had another solid throw to Mario Manningham in seven-on-seven drills in which Manningham made a nice double move near the goal line. Manninghham, who is perhaps fully healthy now after being slowed at the start of camp, has looked very good this week and has been a popular target.

Some other nice plays: Ben Hannula juked cornerback Deante Purvis after catching a pass from Tolzien, then broke several tackles for a big gain during live-tackling drills. Hannula was a jack of all trades for Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego - he was even the backup quarterback - and he has that ability for the 49ers. He's very much a Harbaugh-type guy in that regard, and while dark horse, he is a possibility for a practice-squad spot because of his versatility. ... It was another rough day for Purvis. He crashed into Ginn on a deep pass, drawing a pass-interference penalty.

Tight end Demarcus Dobbs made a nice catch at his hip on a pass from Tolzien. ... Fellow tight end Konrad Reuland caught an ugly pass in traffic while draped by two defenders and while falling onto his back. That's sooo Garbage Man. ... LaMichael James showed his speed and play-making ability on an outside run in which OLB Kourtnei Brown was pinched inside.

The defense made some plays, too. Colin Kaepernick hit A.J. Jenkins on a crossing route. Jenkins, however, bobbled the pass and in the process of trying to retain the ball was thumped by safety C.J. Spillman, who jarred it loose. ... Cornerback Chris Culliver could have been Wednesday's top defender. He broke up several passes during the session. ... Tarell Brown knocked a ball from Brian Tyms during seven-on-seven drills. ... A deep pass from Johnson to Jenkins was intercepted by cornerback Anthony Mosely ... Johnson was trying to hit Tyms near the goal line in 11-on-11 drills and his pass was dropped by safety Colin Jones. "That was the girl you never asked out," said one coach about the blown opportunity.

Patrick Willis had a trainer work on his left shoe/foot for about 10 minutes before rejoining practice. ... Fellow inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite was nicked during the live tackling session. ... Jenkins had a slight hobble after leaping for a high pass from Kaepernick. He continued to practice.

Isaac Sopoaga was back on the field after missing the last two practices. A quartet of outside linebackers, however, were still missing: Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Cam Johnson and, of course, Darius Fleming who's return this season from an ACL tear is unlikely. Newcomer Ikaika Alama-Francis is not permitted to practice until next week. ... Perrish Cox didn't practice for the first time this summer and is "working through something," according to a team spokesman. Rookie Michael Thomas filled in for Cox at nickel cornerback with the second-string defense. Thomas seems like someone the 49ers could keep on their practice squad.

Practice was observed by the 49ers Faithfulistas, a first-of-its-kind fan club composed entirely of women,. There are currently 300 members. the first 50 who signed up got to watch Wednesday's twilight practice, which was ... lucky for them ... a rare practice on the closer of the two fields.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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