Should fans be worried about the health of linebacker Patrick Willis? While the San Francisco 49ers downplayed Willis’ broken hand last week, he reportedly had surgery to insert a pin into his hand a couple of days ago. Willis is still expected to be ready to play in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Predictably, Willis did not practice at this tenth day of training camp. Also missing was defensive end Justin Smith. Center Jonathan Goodwin returned to practice for the first time in several days in a blue non-contact jersey. Tackle Joe Staley came back to practice along with Vernon Davis as well, although Davis had a lighter day than usual.
Receiver A.J. Jenkins had the best day of all of the receivers, catching seven of nine passes. It was Jenkins’ second solid day in a row. Tight end Vance McDonald caught five of five passes. Receiver Austin Collie caught three of four. Rookie tight end MarQueis Gray suffered a head injury at the end of practice and was helped off the field.
On the defense, Tramaine Brock remained the #3 cornerback. Rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper had a good day, intercepting Scott Tolzien on a pass to Chuck Jacobs. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman also picked off Colin Kaepernick. Safety Eric Reid had another good practice with the first-team defense.
Prior to practice, offensive coordinator Greg Roman, tackle Anthony Davis, and safety Donte Whitner spoke to the media. Roman spoke highly of Daniel Kilgore, wide receiver Charly Martin, and A. Davis. Martin has mostly flown under the radar since the 49ers claimed him off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks on July 12, but he has not escaped Roman’s notice. This 6’1”, 212-pound receiver who played college football at West Texas A&M entered the league in 2009 as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers.
Whitner discussed adjusting to the loss of Dashon Goldson, having to make calls on half the field that used to be Goldson’s job. Whitner also talked about Reid’s progress working with the first team. While Reid is not making many mistakes, Whitner looks forward to seeing how the rookie performs in game time situations. Tackle A. Davis reflected on what it was like to struggle as a rookie and have bad days. He thanked teammates like Ahmad Brooks for making him stronger at his position. Davis also said this offensive line group is the best group of players he has been a part of, including his high school and college teams.
That offensive line may look different for this Thursday’s preseason game against the Denver Broncos if Goodwin has not fully recovered from his undisclosed injury. Backup Daniel Kilgore, who has been taking the snaps in Goodwin’s absence, could start, depending on how things go in the next couple of days of practice.