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July 31, 2013
Training camp D6: Practice ends without Willis, Bowman; strong day for Asomugha

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What would happen if both of the 49ers' Pro-Bowl inside linebackers went out with injuries? The team got a glimpse of that scenario during Wednesday's practice after Patrick Willis hurt his right hand, apparently during a pass-blocking drill, and NaVorro Bowman didn't finish the practice with an apparent groin injury. Bowman had missed Tuesday's session.

Backups Michael Wilhoite and Nate Stupar filled in, and Stupar turned in one of several interceptions on the afternoon when he jumped a pass from Colin Kaepernick to Vernon Davis in the red zone. Kaepernick and the offense had been winning the daily battles against the defense, but that was not the case today.

The 49ers' defense is special, of course, because it has two top-caliber inside linebackers that stay on the field for all three downs. Neither injury, however, appears that serious. If Willis suffered a fracture, he'll know what to expect. He's played with broken bones in his hand three times since his junior year in college, including during his rookie season in 2007 and again in 2010.

With Willis and Bowman out, rookie Nick Moody also saw extra action as did newly signed Travis Johnson. The San Jose State product played defensive end in college but is being used at inside linebacker by the 49ers

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The Kaepernick-to-Davis and Kaepernick-to-Anquan Boldin connections had been hot this spring and summer but cooled off today. Boldin caught just two of the six passes that went his way in 11-on-11 and team drills while Davis caught three of eight passes.

Two throws from Kaepernick to Boldin in the end zone were incomplete. One was knocked away by Nnamdi Asomugha in a jump-ball situation at the goal-line. Boldin doesn't lose too many of those battles (See: Super Bowl; third and 1; Rogers, Carlos), but Asomugha got good leverage on the ball and swatted it away.

Asomugha had a strong practice. He had an interception in 7-on-7 drills when he jumped a pass from Kaepernick to Chad Hall, tipped the ball into the air and then came up with an interception. The 49ers have been looking at tall, physical cornerbacks in recent seasons, and Asomugha on Wednesday showed why.

Chris Culliver also had an interception in 7-on-7 drills when he stepped in front of wideout Marlon Moore on a pass from Scott Tolzien. Culliver, however, did not finish practice. He took off his shoulder pads toward the end, and a member of the medical staff was looking at his shoulder.

Outside linebacker Aldon Smith did not practice. Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson were the starters at OLB with Dan Skuta and Cam Johnson playing behind them.

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While many of the receivers struggled, it was another good day for Moore, who caught four of six passes in 11-on-11 and team drills. His best catch came on a sideline throw from Kaepernick that seemed like it would sail harmlessly out of bounds. Instead, Moore leaped high over k cornerbacTarell Brown and came down with the ball.

Said offensive coordinator Greg Roman of Moore earlier in the day: "Marlon's showing up, making plays, knows his job inside and out, and really doing a good job at a lot of different things - short, intermediate stuff, deep. He's a pretty diverse guy with a diverse skill-set. He can do a lot of things well. He's definitely a guy that's jumped off the screen at us so far."

Quarterback B.J. Daniels ended a red-zone session with two touchdown passes - to LaMichael James and wideout Chuck Jacobs.

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One of the most spirited sessions of training camp has been the one-on-one pass-blocking drills between the running backs/tight ends and the linebackers.

After struggling in the drill two days ago, running back Jewel Hampton had strong showings against inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite and later Nick Moody. Hampton got boisterous kudos from running backs coach Tom Rathman after both. (Wilhoite beat Hampton in their rematch, which ended the session)

LaMichael James also looked good in knocking Bowman - briefly - to the ground during their matchup. ... Willis may have hurt his hand going against Bruce Miller ... Rookie Corey Lemonier knocked Vernon Davis backward a few steps in their first matchup; Davis easily rode him out of the play in the rematch ... Vance McDonald had a mixed outing. He won two battles with Cam Johnson but couldn't handle Ahmad Brooks).

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Seventh-round pick Carter Bykowski, a tackle, slowly walked off the field midway through practice with a trainer.

- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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