SANTA CLARA -– Before coach Jim Tomsula excused the 49ers on the eve of their second day off of training camp, the players went through their first live goal-line action of the summer.
Running back Jarryd Hayne, who is trying to make the transition from being an Australian rugby league star to the NFL, was a central figure in the two most memorable plays of the 12-snap sequence.
Hayne appeared as if he would be dropped for a 5-yard loss on his first running attempt. But he cut inside of outside linebacker Eli Harold to avoid the tackle. Hayne looked as if he would score on the play, but 295-pound defensive end Tank Carradine leveled him with a loud pop at the goal line.
“With a nickname like Tank, you think all of his hits would be loud,” 49ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini said. “He’s a big boy.”
For Harold, it was the one that got away.
“I came free, one on one with Jarryd Hayne, and he put a move on me,” said Harold, a third-round draft pick from Virginia. “It could’ve been a big hit, but I didn’t drop my hips and stay low. But Tank nailed him, so he made up for my mistake.”
Hayne’s second and final rushing attempt ended significantly better for him, as he did not seem the least bit shaken Carradine's welcome to the full-contact football.
This time, Hayne shed the tackle attempts of two linebackers, including Shayne Skov, and safety L.J. McCray in the backfield. Then, he turned up field and powered through three more defenders -- Kaleb Ramsey and Steve Beauharnais among them -- to negotiate his way into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run.
“I thought that one was pretty rugby-esque, kind of lateral, kind of bumping off people,” said left tackle Joe Staley, who was on the sideline for the live drill. “I’ve seen very few clips of rugby but I think that’s what it looks like. He kind of bounced off some guys and got to the edge.”
Running backs coach Tom Rathman celebrated the touchdown with a jumping body bump as Hayne returned to the sideline.
In all, the offensive unit scored three touchdowns in the 12 snaps, which included one aborted play when quarterback Dylan Thompson and Hayne had a miscommunication in the backfield. Another play ended with a fumbled exchange between center Ian Silberman and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
The other touchdowns came on Colin Kaepernick’s 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vance McDonald against the coverage of Nick Moody and Skov, and Kendall Gaskins’ 2-yard touchdown run around the right side.
Many of the team’s starters on both sides of the ball opened the live session on the field. And the players were advised to go all out, just as they would in a real game.
“On the goal line, Jim’s philosophy is, ‘We’re either going to walk through it or we’re going to do it live,’” Mangini said. “Sometimes if you’re going to go ‘Thud,’ or you try to go half speed, it could be counter-productive because guys are in difficult positions but they’re not going at the tempo they normally go to. So their bodies get twisted or somebody runs into somebody’s back.”
Offensive plays of the day: The most relevant offensive plays of the day were three short passes on which Kaepernick showed deft touch to hook up with running back Reggie Bush, who took his first significant snaps on the practice field this summer. During a four-play sequence in the red zone, Kaepernick and Bush hooked up for touchdown passes that covered 17 and 4 yards.
Defensive play of the day (not involving Hayne and Carradine): Inside linebacker Nick Moody tipped Gabbert’s pass over the middle and safety Antoine Bethea came flying into the picture to record the interception just off the surface of the 49ers’ practice field before he broke into an acrobatic roll.
Rookie report: Defensive end Arik Armstead demonstrated his strength as he pushed right guard Marcus Martin into the backfield, dangerously close to Kaepernick’s legs on a pass rush. He later delivered a head slap to offensive tackle Sean Hooey in an 11-on-11 drill. . . Receiver DeAndrew White, who had a quiet couple of practices, made two nice catches of Dylan Thompson passes at the sideline. White also did good work as a gunner in punt coverage and handled the ball cleanly as a punt returner. . . Outside linebackers Marcus Rush and Harold got pressure on Thompson. Later, Rush got so close to Kaepernick on a pass rush that the two players ended up on the ground. . . Punter Bradley Pinion showed off his leg when he drilled a kickoff, with the wind, over the fence, several yards behind the back of the end zone. . . It was another rough day snapping the ball for guard Ian Silberman, who the 49ers are trying to cross-train at center. . . Tight end Busta Anderson, a seventh-round draft pick, has experienced a quiet training camp. He showed up Sunday with a reception from Thompson on a shallow crossing route.
This ‘n’ that: Neither Carlos Hyde, Bush or Kendall Hunter took part in the live goal-line plays. . . Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman broke up a pass intended for rookie tight end Blake Bell. . . Outside linebacker Corey Lemonier, who lined up with the first-team defense in Aldon Smith’s old spot, had a good pass rush against Trent Brown, forcing the rookie to hold him. . . Cornerback Dontae Johnson made a nice play to break up Gabbert’s pass intended for Jerome Simpson. . . Hayne was called for holding while trying to pick up a blitz. . . Kaleb Ramsey batted down Thompson’s pass attempt almost exactly as it left Thompson’s hand. . . Kaepernick had difficult negotiating the wind at the team’s practice facility. He had three consecutive passes sail far out of bounds. . . Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks picked up a fumble on a poor center-QB exchange involving Martin and Kaepernick. He also recorded a would-be sack coming off the right side . . . Kaepernick and Simpson hooked up on a nifty back-shoulder completion for a 7-yard touchdown against the coverage of Marcus Cromartie. . . Fullback Trey Millard scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Thompson. . . Skov broke up a couple of Kaepernick passes and he also had a sack. . . Darnell Dockett and Ian Williams teamed up for a would-be sack of Gabbert.
Daily transactions: None
Returned to practice: DL Tank Carradine
Did not practice: DL Quinton Dial (sore knee), WR Chuck Jacobs (ankle) WR Bruce Ellington (leg strain), CB Leon McFadde (toe bruise), 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 have a day off on Monday before returning to work for a 4:15 p.m. practice on Tuesday.