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August 2, 2013
Training camp D8: Justin Smith nicked; WR reinforcements arrive just in time

The reinforcements arrived in time for Friday's late-afternoon practice. Receivers Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins each signed one-year contracts around 3 p.m. and then quickly were fitted for helmets and uniforms so that they could bolster the 49ers' ever-thinning receiving corps.

Wearing No. 6, Collie caught a short, third-down reception from quarterback Colt McCoy late in the session. Hawkins - he was wearing No. 4 -- hauled in a sideline throw from B.J. Daniels, but the toss carried him out of bounds. The practice was conducted without Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood, who have missed the last several practices. Ricardo Lockette also was absent. He appeared to injure his hip on Sunday but had been toughing it out and, until today, did not miss any practices.

When the 49ers first-team offense trotted onto the field, Anquan Boldin and Marlon Moore were the starting wideouts. Chad Hall also played extensively, especially from the slot position.

There were plenty of other players missing, too. Justin Smith had a wrap on his middle finger and sat out the session. Cornerback Tarell Brown began practice but watched most of it from the sideline. With Chris Culliver out for the season with a torn ACL, Nnamdi Asomugha and Carlos Rogers were the de facto starters with Tramaine Brock entering in the nickel defense.

Asomugha nearly had an interception when Colin Kaepernick attempted a quick sideline throw to Moore and Asomugha broke on the ball. It would have resulted in a defensive touchdown but Asomugha could not get a handle on the ball. Brock, meanwhile, intercepted a McCoy pass intended for Anquan Boldin.

The other injured players were Patrick Willis (hand), NaVorro Bowman (groin), Aldon Smith and Jonathan Goodwin. Here's who their replacements (mainly) were:

Willis: rookie Nick Moody
Bowman: Michael Wilhoite
Aldon Smith: Parys Haralson
Justin Smith: Demarcus Dobbs
Goodwin: Daniel Kilgore
Brown: Nnamdi Asomugha

Jim Harbaugh often speaks about trying to "dodge bullets" when it comes to injuries. He and the 49ers appeared to doge a very big one when left guard Mike Iupati fell to the ground in pain and had to be helped off the field. Joe Looney filled in for a few plays while trainers tended to Iupati's knee. But he was soon back on his feet and eventually rejoined practice.

The team spent a lot of time practicing its end-of-half offense and defense. The first-team offense's best series included passes from Kaepernick to Vernon Davis and Kaepernick to Chad Hall, which set up a field-goal opportunity for Phil Dawson, which the kicker put cleanly between the uprights.

Davis had more big gains, but they came against some of the 49ers' defensive backups. He beat new inside linebacker Travis Johnson - in his defense, Johnson was a college defensive end and is learning a new position - down the center of the field for a big gain. He also got past safety Michael Thomas for a big catch in 7-on-7 drills.

Perrish Cox had another strong practice. He broke up a sideline pass from Kaepernick to Davis during 7-on-7 drills. Cox is a restricted free agent in March, and he appears to be one of the few cornerbacks currently on the roster who are likely to be here next year as well.

I thought that backup inside linebacker Nate Stupar has been having a good training camp, and he shined on a couple of plays at the goal line. He quickly got to the outside to stop an outside quarterback-keeper run by Scott Tolzien. He also stuffed a running back short of the goal line to end the drill.

Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier have been serving as the second-team outside linebackers. Skuta, playing right OLB, had a sack (meaning he touched the quarterback) on Tolzien during the two-minute session. Lemonier, at left OLB, had a big hit on running back Jewel Hampton at the line of scrimmage.

Frank Gore was present but appeared to get the session off. LaMichael James was the first-string tailback.

Ray "Bubba" Ventrone no longer is wearing a black jersey that designates him as a two-way player. Ventrone ostensibly was both a safety and a receiver when camp began. However, he has had no catches (and no reps?) at receiver and today was wearing a red jersey, which designates him a member of the defense. In reality, Ventrone mostly is a special teams player. (I can't recall him ever taking a rep at safety, either).

- 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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