SANTA CLARA — The 49ers wrapped up the first of their three minicamp practices inside Levi’s Stadium Tuesday evening with a number of interesting developments.
Alex Boone worked primarily at left guard and Aldon Smith left the workout on a cart.
As head coach Jim Tomsula indicated before practice, it was veteran lineman Erik Pears manning the right tackle position. To his left, second-year lineman Marcus Martin lined up at right guard. With Daniel Kilgore still sidelined by his ankle injury, it was Joe Looney at center. Third-year lineman Andrew Tiller assumed the left guard responsibilities, with All-Pro Joe Staley anchoring the line at left tackle.
Boone, who did not participate in the voluntary portion of the team’s offseason program, came off the sidelines to replace Tiller at left guard and took most of his reps there -- which seems to indicate the team's plan for the season.
It’s never a good sign to see a key player carted off the field, especially after the 49ers defense has taken such a hit this offseason, but the injury to Smith’s right foot does not seem serious.
He had ice strapped to the inside of his right foot, up near the ball, and watched the majority of practice from the sidelines. He was visited by GM Trent Baalke, who offered an encouraging pat on the shoulder. Smith later removed the ice and was seen walking around slowly, but without discomfort.
The team is yet to provide an update on Smith's condition.
Here are some notes and observations from Tuesday’s practice:
— Michael Wilhoite had a strong showing. He pulled down the only interception of the day when Colin Kaepernick’s fastball over the middle deflected off Anquan Boldin. Wilhoite was also involved in a collision with Quinton Patton on a pass over the middle. It was unintentional, but it was solid. Patton held onto the ball for a first down, and both players took a moment to gather themselves afterward.
— It didn’t come to blows, but nose tackle Mike Purcell and center Joe Looney got into it. Purcell finished his bull rush with emphasis, landing Looney on his back as the two tumbled right in front of Tomsula. Choice words were shared, particularly from Looney.
— Colin Kaepernick, who is growing into his leadership role, was vocal on the sidelines. One play in particular did not sit well with him and he was heard yelling to finish plays: “Run! What are you stopping for? Run! Let’s go! That’s your job!”
— Rookie tight end Blake Bell made a couple nice catches for significant gains. He created space for a touchdown from rookie quarterback Dylan Thompson in 11 vs. 11 drills and pulled down a quick pass in traffic from Blaine Gabbert in the 7 vs. 7 session.
— It was an up-and-down day for Carlos Hyde, who dropped a number of passes and was corralled in the backfield during an 11 vs. 11 drill.
— Reggie Bush and Jarryd Hayne handled all of the return duties, and handled them well. The only Brad Pinion punt that hit the ground was the one he shanked.
— Speaking of Pinion, he was impressive. His lone shanked punt still went 40 yards after a negative bounce. And, kicking with the wind, he was booming high spirals downfield. He got a hold of one in particular, which traveled close to 75 yards in the air. Pinion also handled the holding responsibilities for Phil Dawson during the field goal session. He appeared practiced and calm and teed up Dawson with aplomb.
— NaVorro Bowman is still practicing with his clunky knee brace, though he was quick to ditch it as soon as the 11 vs. 11 drills were over.
— The 49ers have a deep group of receivers led by Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Jerome Simpson and Quinton Patton. The deep ball drill was a fun one to watch.
— Rookie receivers DeAndrew White and DiAndre Campbell each showed promise. Campbell made a nice catch going up to grab a wobbly back-shoulder pass on the sidelines. White went up high for an impressive first down completion in 11 vs. 11 drills and later showed quick feet to turn up the sideline against Nick Bellore.