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August 12, 2013
Training camp D14: A.J. Jenkins goes deep and ... and ...

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It looked like it had the potential to change the script for A.J. Jenkins, who is badly in need of some positive momentum and confidence. The speedy wide receiver was lined up far to the left of Colin Kaepernick in today's afternoon practice and took off down field on a post pattern. He had a step on undrafted rookie cornerback Darryl Morris, and Kaepernick let fly a pass that traveled 45 yards down field. At the last moment, however, Morris accelerated and batted away the ball for an incompletion.

It certainly wasn't an indictment of Jenkins. Morris made a nice play. But the besieged 49ers receiver went through the practice session without catching a pass in 11-on-11 or team drills. Another deep pass from Kaepernick - with Morris in coverage - was too deep and incomplete.

In the week leading up to Thursday's game, Jenkins got more practice snaps than any other wide receiver and he was in on more plays - 39 - than any of the other receivers against Denver. What's notable is that those opportunities have been curtailed over the last two practices as previously injured players like Kyle Williams and Kassim Osgood get worked into the mix and newcomers like Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins get more snaps.

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There's a nice competition going on between rookie cornerbacks Morris and Marcus Cooper, one of whom promises to make the practice squad if not one of the last spots on the 53-man squad. Both were part of the look team, which went up against Kaepernick and the other offensive starters this afternoon.

Morris, who is small but has excellent speed, has looked good for the last two practices. Cooper, who is 6-2 and much more of a press coverage-style cornerback, had a one-handed interception on a pass down the seam from Kaepernick to Williams. Cooper, however, was beaten on the longest pass of the day from Kaepernick to Marlon Moore. That 45-yarder down the sideline came on the play following the deep incompletion from Kaepernick to Jenkins. He also was involved in the catch of the day - a downfield pass to Ricardo Lockette in which Lockette skied over Cooper and both came crashing to the ground. Lockette had a solid day.

One starting cornerback, Tarell Brown, was back at practice today but another, Carlos Rogers, was out with an apparent hamstring strain. As forecast by Vic Fangio, Brown spent a lot of the early portion of practice playing out of the slot position, which is Rogers' usual spot. He looked good there in knocking a slant pattern pass away from Anquan Boldin. Meanwhile, Nnamdi Asomugha, who mostly has been playing right cornerback, filled in on the left side at times today.

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Eric Reid and Donte Whitner were the starting safeties. The starters for Friday's game in Kansas City? If Fangio's pattern holds firm, it will be Whitner and C.J. Spillman in the second game, Whitner and Trenton Robinson in the third game and Whitner and Reid in the finale.

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Speaking of Robinson, he was at the wrong end of a big hit by tailback Anthony Dixon late in practice. Dixon lowered his shoulder and drilled Robinson into the ground. Then the exuberant Dixon started woofing - literally - which prompted an admonishment from Jim Harbaugh. Officiating crews will look closely at running backs who lower their helmets outside the tackle box this year. It didn't appear that that's what Dixon did, but it was close. Harbaugh, however, was unhappy about a hard hit in a no-tackle practice as well as the celebrating that came after.

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Aldon Smith briefly left the field with a trainer but came back at the end of the session and rejoined practice. He and the first-team defensive line were a handful today with Justin Smith, Demarcus Dobbs, Ray McDonald and Parys Haralson all collapsing the offensive line and recording practice sacks.

With Patrick Willis (hand) out of action, Michael Wilhoite has been filling in at inside linebacker. Wilhoite still is the main backup there, but rookie Nick Moody and Nate Stupar also received plenty of snaps with the first-team defense today.

Adam Snyder continues to fill in for Joe Staley at left tackle. Staley's injury doesn't appear to serious, however. How do I know this? I caught him rocking out on the sideline while The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" was piped in to simulate Arrowhead Stadium crowd noise.

Perrish Cox and Tarell Brown (twice) had late interceptions against B.J. Daniels and the scout-team offense. ... Backup guard Wayne Tribue went down with what appeared to be a serious injury. But he shook it off and was back in the lineup by the end of practice. ... Jewel Hampton continues to sit out practice with a minor injury.

Rookie tight end Vance McDonald did not practice and Harbaugh said he will miss Friday's game.

-- 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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