SANTA CLARA – After the defense clearly dominated the first week of 49ers training camp, the offense is making some significant gains.
The good day for the offense started early with a 7-on-7 period that produced four touchdown passes in five snaps during a practice in which the 49ers wore shells – not full pads.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit Anquan Boldin with a back-shoulder throw against Kenneth Acker in the red-zone drill. Kaepernick also hit Torrey Smith against Tramaine Brock. Rookie quarterback Dylan Thompson found Derek Carrier and DiAndre Campbell in the end zone against the coverage of Antoine Bethea and Dontae Johnson, respectively.
The one play that did not result in a touchdown came when Keith Reaser made a leaping interception of a pass intended for Quinton Patton.
Blaine Gabbert also got into the act with a touchdown pass to Mario Hull, who beat Reaser’s coverage.
The pass protection from the offensive line appears to be rounding into form to give Kaepernick and the other quarterbacks time to throw.
Torrey Smith continues to have a solid camp despite dropping a Kaepernick pass later in practice. Smith said he and Kaepernick are getting to know each other.
“We’re definitely still getting stuff together,” Smith said. “When there’s a play that happens I always go over to him and say, ‘Hey, what were you thinking on this?’ so we can get on the same page about certain things.
“It’s not that I feel like I’m a speed demon or the fastest man in the world or anything, but sometimes I feel like, ‘I can run, bro – you can throw it out there. I’m going to go get it for you.” It’s just little things that you have to be comfortable with. Learning each other’s body language is another big thing, him learning how I move because it’s our first year working together. But he’s doing a great job. It’s on us to make it all happen.”
Offensive play of the day: Generally, we only recognize plays that occur on 11-on-11 drills. But we’ll make an exception today. During a 7-on-7 period, second-year tight end Asante Cleveland showed remarkable concentration and hands when he latched onto a dart Kaepernick threw into a tight window between two defenders. Cleveland took an inadvertent hit, and went to the ground. But he held onto the ball throughout the process to compete the catch.
Defensive play of the day: The team’s decision to release Aldon Smith places Ahmad Brooks under a microscope. He reported in great shape to training camp and put on a lightning-quick move to get around left tackle Trent Brown for a would-be sack of Kaepernick.
Tight ends excel: The 49ers believe they’ve assembled a group that could include seven tights ends who will find their way onto NFL active rosters this season. After the first week of camp, that does not seem to be far-fetched. Vernon Davis is putting together a solid camp, and those behind him are making their marks, too.
Third-year player Vance McDonald, a second-round pick in 2013, is having the best camp of his career. His practice on Saturday was highlighted by a nice catch between Bethea and Eric Reid on a Kaepernick laser on a deep post pattern.
Blake Bell again showed good route-running and nice hands on a couple of receptions. Carrier and Cleveland also had good practices. Garrett Celek had a rough day with a couple of dropped passes.
This ‘n’ that: Rookie defensive lineman Arik Armstead looked strong and explosive off the ball. He sustained a hand injury to provide a minor scare during practice, but he was back on the field without missing any time. . . Torrey Smith showed his deep speed when he made a double-move to get several steps on cornerback Marcus Cromartie. Gabbert’s pass was held up in the wind, but Smith would have still made the catch if not for a good play from Craig Dahl to break up the pass 40 yards down the field. . . Defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie batted down a Gabbert pass at the line of scrimmage. . . Rookie outside linebacker Eli Harold broke up a Thompson pass and nearly had an interception when he dropped into coverage. . . Jerome Simpson and White dropped passes . . . Blakeney caught a deep post patter from Gabbert during 7-on-7 drills. But a Gabbert pass also deflected off his hands and was intercepted by Reid. . . . Rookie Ian Silberman continued to see work at center. . . The first-team offensive line remained unchanged with left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Alex Boone, center Joe Looney, right guard Marcus Martin and right tackle Erik Pears. . . The 49ers have some options to replace Aldon Smith, and with Aaron Lynch still being held out of 11-on-11 work, it was Corey Lemonier who worked with the first team at Smith’s outside linebacker position.
Daily transactions: The 49ers signed outside linebacker Shawn Lemon. The 49ers’ roster stands at the maximum 90 players.
Returned to practice: WR Issac Blakeney
Did not practice: DL Tank Carradine (illness), WR Bruce Ellington (leg strain), LB Philip Wheeler (leg strain)
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 return to practice Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. The practice was originally scheduled for Levi’s Stadium, but due to poor field conditions it has been moved to their practice facility. The practice is closed to the general public.