A.J. Jenkins - yes, A.J. Jenkins! - had one of his best practices to date today, hauling in seven of the nine passes that went in his direction during 11-on-11 and team drills. Jenkins had a rough start to camp, and he spent last week nursing a hamstring injury. But he has had two solid outings in as many days and says he is intent on having a good game Thursday, too. When he is at his best, Jenkins is fluid, snatches the ball cleanly and then gets back up to top speed quickly. He did that on Monday.
"He needs reps," Jim Harbaugh said of Jenkins this week. "We're looking forward to him getting those this week, and in the ball game as well. He needs time. He needs play time."
While Sunday's practice included a lot of running plays, this one was decidedly pass centric as the 49ers worked on their two-minute offense and the reserves got an extra 20 or so plays at the end of practice. While Jenkins took a lot of snaps, the 49ers appear to be taking things more slowly with Kyle Williams and Kassim Osgood, who also are coming back from minor injuries. Both have been practicing but not seeing many opportunities in 11-on-11 and team drills, as shown by the numbers below.
Also, tight end Vernon Davis was dressed for practice but had a light day. He seemed to be shaken up on a running play late in Sunday's session.
A.J. Jenkins: nine targets, seven receptions
Frank Gore: six targets, three receptions
Vance McDonald: five targets, five receptions
Garrett Celek: five targets, four receptions
Austin Collie: four targets, three receptions
Jason Schepler: four targets, three receptions
Ricardo Lockette: four targets, two receptions
LaMichael James: three targets, three receptions
Chad Hall: three targets, two receptions
MarQueis Gray: three targets, two receptions
Chuck Jacobs: three targets, two receptions
Charly Martin: three targets, two receptions
Quinton Patton: three targets, zero receptions (Patton (finger) is instructed not to catch the ball)
Anthony Dixon: two targets, two receptions
Marlon Moore: two targets, two receptions
Lavelle Hawkins: two targets, two receptions
B.J. Daniels: one target, one reception
D.J. Harper: one target, one reception
Kassim Osgood: one target, one reception
Kyle Williams: one target, one reception
Donte Whitner on Monday said the best thing for rookie safety Eric Reid's development is to face a few top-rated quarterbacks and, frankly, to get beat a couple of times. "It's going to take a little experience, he's going to have to take some lumps, he's going to have to give up some passes and understand where he's supposed to be," said Whitner, a seven-year veteran who is serving as Reid's mentor this summer. "But hopefully he comes along really, really fast."
As it happens, Reid has an excellent opportunity to be beaten on Thursday when Peyton Manning and Broncos are in town. Manning is expected to start the game and play 10-12 snaps.
The question is whether Reid will start as well. He's one of four players battling for the role of first-string free safety -- C.J. Spillman, Trenton Robinson and Craig Dahl are the others -- and each has had a short stint with the first group so far in training camp.
Reid has practiced with the first stringers alongside Whitner for the last three days. He has looked good, and Whitner praised his lack of mistakes and aggressive play.
Tramaine Brock continues to get snaps as the No. 3 cornerback who enters the game - as nose tackle Ian Williams exits it - on third-down passing plays. ... Rookie Marcus Cooper had an interception on Scott Tolzien on a deep sideline pass to Chuck Jacobs. Cooper has been playing left cornerback with the No. 3 defense. ... During 7-on-7 drills, linebacker NaVorro Bowman picked off Colin Kaepernick when the quarterback's pass deflected off of Hall and into the air.
Rookie tight end/H-back MarQueis Gray seemed to suffer a head injury during a running play at the end of practice. He was down for a few seconds before being helped up and off the field. He's the No. 4 tight end. The No. 5 tight end ostensibly is Demarcus Dobbs, whose main role is playing right defensive end behind Justin Smith. Smith has missed the last three practices with a finger injury, which could make Dobbs the starter on Thursday.
Jonathan Goodwin and Joe Staley were back at practice after missing Sunday's session. Goodwin was in a blue, no-contact jersey, and Daniel Kilgore handled most of the snaps at center.
-- Matt Barrows