SANTA CLARA -– Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is ready to play a game, but that does not mean he will suit up in the 49ers’ exhibition opener Saturday against the Houston Texans.
In fact, Bowman’s uncertainty whether he's going to play could be interpreted as a clue that it’s likely his first game action will take place when the 49ers play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Aug. 23, at Levi’s Stadium.
Earlier in the day, 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said he’s going back and forth on whether it would be wise for Bowman to play. Bowman said he has spoken to Tomsula about the plan.
“I’m doing everything out there,” Bowman said after practice on Thursday. “We just want to be safe and smart. Just feeling it out. Haven’t really decided, yet. I feel good. I’m practicing with the guys. The main thing is to be ready for the Vikings on Monday night (the regular-season opener).”
Bowman said he sees progress with how he’s been able to change directions in pass coverage after missing all of last season with a knee injury he sustained in January 2014. On Thursday, he read backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert in an 11-on-11 red zone drill and nearly recorded an interception in the end zone.
Offensive plays of the day: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick saw the blitz coming and made a quick read to swing a pass to his left to running back Reggie Bush. Kaepernick laid the ball softly in front of Bush, who made the catch in stride and would have picked up huge yards down the sideline.
Defensive play of the day: Safety Craig Dahl capitalized on a Gabbert overthrow intended for DeAndrew White to make a diving interception during the first teamwork session of the non-padded practice.
One-two stretch: As preparations continued at nearby Levi’s Stadium for Taylor Swift’s two shows, perhaps it was no surprise that “Shake It Off” blared over the loud speakers on the 49ers practice field as they conducted their pre-practice stretch.
But what happened next was a bit of a surprise. The next song was Luciano Pavarotti’s "La Donna È Mobile (Rigoletto).” It was the first known playing on the practice field of an opera classic.
This ‘n’ that: One of the highlights of the individual work was running backs coach Tom Rathman giving the ball to one player and instructing the other running backs to try to strip him. (At least one of the running backs took that directive literally by tugging at his teammates’ shorts.) The final player to get a turn was Jarryd Hayne, who was lifted off the ground by his teammates but held onto the ball. . . Don’t be surprised to see a few bad snaps in Saturday’s game, as that’s an area in which the 49ers have struggled to find consistency. Centers Joe Looney and Ian Silberman both delivered bad snaps out of the shotgun formation. . . Linebacker Desmond Bishop broke up a Gabbert pass at the line of scrimmage. . . . Tony Jerod-Eddie, Lawrence Okoye and Shawn Lemon produced good pass rushes in 11-on-11 work. . . Tight end Asante Cleveland continues to have a solid camp. He caught four passes in teamwork, including a nifty 5-yard touchdown grab at the sideline from rookie undrafted quarterback Dylan Thompson. . . Bush also caught four passes, while Vernon Davis, Bruce Miller and Garrett Celek each caught three. . . . On one of Davis’ receptions, cornerback Shareece Wright poked the ball loose for a forced fumble. . . Vernon Davis did something with his option route that Kaepernick did not expect during a 7-on-7 period, and the pass went directly to rookie safety Jaquiski Tartt, who collected the easy interception.
Daily transactions: The 49ers waived OL Ben Gottschalk off injured reserve with an injury settlement. The 49ers' roster stands at the maximum 90 players.
Did not practice: WR Bruce Ellington (leg strain), LB Philip Wheeler (leg strain), WR Dres Anderson (soreness)
Physically unable to perform: C Daniel Kilgore (left leg)
Non-football injury/illness: LB Michael Wilhoite (leg), WR DeAndre Smelter (knee), LB Nick Bellore (illness)
Next practice: The 49ers travel to Houston on Friday for their exhibition opener Saturday night against the Texans.