SANTA CLARA -- Typically, the only news during an NFL team’s offseason program is bad news.
So that’s where we start with our recap of the first open practice during the 49ers’ offseason program. (The NFL mandates that one full practice per week during organized team activities must be open to the media.)
--The 49ers’ offensive line was a huge disappointment last season. That unit might be the key to the entire team this season. At the opening of practice, new offensive line coach Chris Foerster was observed working on different zone techniques during warmups.
With a new coach comes a new way of doing things. But two of the projected starters have been working out on their own this offseason. For a unit that must have continuity and be on the same page, the fact that right tackle Alex Boone and right tackle Anthony Davis have not made an appearance during the first six weeks of the offseason program, is not an encouraging sign.
When I asked 49ers coach Jim Tomsula about the importance of having the offensive line working together at this stage of the offseason program with some new schemes being implemented, he answered, “Yeah, I think it’s (important) for all of us. I don’t think you can say O-line. I think everybody’s getting a lot of great work.”
--Boone, Davis and veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin are the only players who have chosen to skip the offseason program. Boldin typically works out on his own in Florida during the offseason. Boldin has proven that whatever he does in the offseason is successful.
--Veteran Erik Pears worked at right guard in place of Boone. Rookie Trent Brown took over at right tackle for Davis. Marcus Martin lined up at center with Daniel Kilgore still rehabbing from the fractured leg that ended his season a year ago. Andrew Tiller and Brandon Thomas worked at left guard. Joe Staley, of course, lined up at left tackle.
--Fullback Bruce Miller is staying away from the offseason program, at the recommendation of the 49ers, as he faces a vandalism charge stemming from an incident with his then-fiancee. But outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks is taking part in the offseason while facing a civil suit alleging sexual assault. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office said the case, which also involves former 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, remains under review.
--On the field, Brooks looks to be in good shape and moving quickly. He picked up a would-be sack with a slick inside move against recently signed offensive lineman Justin Renfrow during an 11-on-11 segment.
--With Boldin's absence and Bruce Ellington sitting out with a hamstring strain, Quinton Patton is getting a lot of action. And he appears to be taking advantage of the opportunity. He got deep between safeties Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea to catch a slightly underthrown Kaepernick pass approximately 45 yards down the field early in practice. He also caught passes from both sides, as well as the slot.
--Tight end Vernon Davis, who skipped the offseason program a year ago, has been engaged and taking part in all the workouts. Colin Kaepernick teamed up with him on a 20-yard pass as he rolled left and found Davis at the sideline against the coverage of Eric Reid.
--Wide receiver Chuck Jacobs, whose season came to an end with an ACL tear during the first exhibition game, looked explosive. He made a nice leaping catch for a touchdown pass from Kaepernick in the back of the end zone during a 7-on-7 drill.
--Undrafted rookie DiAndre Campbell (Washington) made a couple of nice catches on Blaine Gabbert passes, including an outstretched catch at the sideline.
--Veteran defensive lineman Darnell Dockett continues to rehab from the ACL surgery that wiped out his final season with the Arizona Cardinals. Quinton Dial worked with the 49ers’ first team at right defensive tackle (Justin Smith’s old position). Tank Carradine worked with the second unit. Lawrence Okoye saw reps with the third team.
--Tomsula delivered the best line of the day when speaking about Justin Smith. Obviously, the success Tomsula experienced as defensive line coach went a big way toward his eventual promotion to head coach. And Tomsula does not have to be reminded which player played the biggest role during his tenure.
“Justin Smith’s gotten me a pay raise. Let’s not hide the facts,” Tomsula said.
--Tony Jerod-Eddie and Kaleb Ramsey worked at left defensive tackle. Rookie Arik Armstead, who will likely work at this spot, is prohibited from taking part in the offseason program as Oregon has yet to compete its finals. He’ll be able to attend the team’s mandatory June minicamp. Ian Williams, Mike Purcell and Garrison Smith lined up at nose tackle.
--NaVorro Bowman was given a day off as part of his schedule. Obviously, the 49ers do not want to take any chances during the offseason program by working him too hard. Shayne Skov, who has impressed the new coaching staff, filled in at the mike linebacker position as he lined up next to Michael Wilhoite with the first-team defense.
--Shareece Wright and Dontae Johnson, and Keith Reaser and Marcus Cromartie were the cornerbacks on the first and second units. Tramaine Brock went through warmups but was not spotted during 11-on-11 drills. Reaser saw action at nickel back, too.
--Former Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne looked ultra-smooth catching passes out of the backfield. Hayne also fielded punts, along with Reggie Bush.
--Specialists Andy Lee and Phil Dawson are not taking part in the offseason program. Running back Carlos Hyde was held out of practice with a minor undisclosed leg injury, Tomsula said. Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (hamstring), tight end Derek Carrier (foot sprain), defensive backs Jimmie Ward (foot) and Kenneth Acker (foot) were also held out of practice.