Summary: Receiver Michael Crabtree returned to the practice field for his most extensive work since being sidelined with a right calf strain early in practice. Crabtree caught a handful of passes during the 7-on-7 and team portions of practice. He did not participate in the two-minute drill.Meanwhile, rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins had his best day of camp. Jenkins had three receptions from Josh Johnson and a more impressive one from Scott Tolzien. Late in practice, Jenkins made one of the better catches of camp when he elevated in traffic to pull down a 25-yard dart from Tolzien, showing great body control in the air. Jenkins made the grab against the first-team defense. "Every day he's getting better," Crabtree said of Jenkins.Midway through practice, coach Jim Harbaugh raised the stakes for a two-minute drill. With post-practice sprints on the line, Alex Smith and the first-team offense marched down the field to get into the end zone.On fourth-and-goal from the six, Smith went through all his options before pulling it down, rushing right, and diving into the end zone to condemn the defense to extra conditioning.Tolzien made a number of nice deep passes. His touchdown to undrafted rookie receiver Brian Tyms was the offensive play of the day, and he dropped a pretty 30-yard pass over Ted Ginn's left shoulder down the right sideline later.Injury report: LaMichael James did not participate in practice, and his status is unknown. It was the first practice James has missed during training camp. Offensive lineman Jason Slowey sat out his third practice with an undisclosed injury. Receiver Joe Hastings (right leg), cornerback Curtis Holcomb also did not participate. Running back Jewel Hampton (foot) is on the non-football injury list, while outside linebacker Darius Fleming (knee) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list.Offensive play of the day: Tolzien showed an adept feel for the long ball. In the first 11-on-11 drill of the day, with the blitz coming, he hung in to hit Brian Tyms with a deep ball to the left side. Tyms elevated over starting cornerback Tarell Brown to haul in the touchdown. Anthony Dixon helped provide protection for Tolzien with a blitz pickup that drew raves from the coaching staff.Smith-Moss connection: It wasn't the play of the day, but in an 11-on-11 red-zone period, Smith felt pressure and stepped up in the pocket nicely before throwing to Randy Moss cutting across the back of the endzone for the touchdown. Smith and Moss haven't exactly torched the 49ers defense this training camp, so it was positive to see them connecting -- and looking in sync -- in the red zone.Defensive play of the day: Donte Whitner and Carlos Rogers each pulled down interceptions. Whitner's was more impressive, as he jumped an inside rout and collapsed on Johnson's low pass. Rogers' pick was deflected into the air before he corralled it in the middle of the field.Eye on reps: The bulk of the quarterback snaps went to third- and fourth-string QBs Johnson and Tolzien. Johnson had an up-and-down day of work with several of his passes sailing high of the mark. Tolzien was sharper, especially looking downfield.Getting physical: In a 1-on-1 individual blitz pick-up drill, Dixon locked up Ahmad Brooks and threw him backwards. A play later, Aldon Smith looked to get around starting fullback Bruce Miller. When Dixon and Brooks squared off again, there was a little something extra behind the initial contact. It was a good drill for Dixon, who turned away a NaVorro Bowman spin move as well.Notable: In the special teams period of practice, the ball ended up in Brooks' arms on the kick return. It won't be a plan of attack for the 49ers, who have Ted Ginn, Kendall Hunter and James listed on the depth chart for kickoff returns, but you never know where a squib kick will end up.Next practice: The 49ers return to practice on Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. None of the 49ers' practices in Santa Clara this summer are open to the general public due to the ongoing stadium construction.
After five consecutive close losses and some reason for optimism, it all came crashing down for the 49ers on Sunday.
Rookie Trent Taylor fumbled a punt just one minute into the game. Ninety seconds later, the Dallas Cowboys scored.
And it was over.
The Cowboys steamrolled the 49ers, 40-10, providing a slap across the face to anyone who believed this rebuild of the franchise was trending consistently upward without any complications.
The team appeared to be moving along harmoniously. But on Sunday, there was an incident in which Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon and Ray-Ray Armstrong were seen jawing at each other. Things got heated. The optics in a home blowout loss were not good.
There are plenty of questions, and here are some of the questions from The Day After that were submitted on our Facebook page:
What is the philosophy? Are we trying to win or develop players? Cause it seems you can't do both? (Frank Vega)
The 49ers are definitely trying to develop players. They are also trying to evaluate players. They are looking to the future, and they are not deploying a win-at-all-cost approach this season. They do not want to win an extra game or two this season at the expense of possibly making the team worse for the future.
That is why the 49ers, almost invariably, went with younger players at any position in which there was competition . . . Eli Harold over Ahmad Brooks; Trent Taylor over Jeremy Kerley; Raheem Mostert over Tim Hightower; etc.
It’s why the 49ers made the decision two weeks ago to part ways with NaVorro Bowman, who had expressed dissatisfaction over his reduced role. Bowman was still the 49ers’ best linebacker at the time. But he would not have been on the team next year, so the decision was made to release Bowman now and go with the other less-accomplished players. (The Raiders, by the way, say 'Thank you.')
Rookie C.J. Beathard is now the starting quarterback. Cole Hikutini has moved into the No. 2 role at tight end behind fellow rookie George Kittle. Ahkello Witherspoon is being weaved into the action at cornerback, splitting time with Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson.
The 49ers did not want to create a mirage. They did not want to win any games this season that would be the result of a veteran rent-a-player approach. In that respect, the 49ers have succeeded. The 49ers will be picking near the top of every round in the 2018 draft.
The risk, of course, is that the young players get beaten down so badly that they lose their confidence and their edge.
What do you make of Eric Reid’s move to LB? Is his time with Niners nearing the end? (Peter Chan)
The 49ers no longer use a “nickel” defense. They go straight from their base defense to six defensive backs whenever the opposition puts more than two wide receivers on the field. It’s not a true linebacker position Reid is playing. It’s considered more of a “big nickel," designed to give the 49ers more speed on third downs to cover and run to the ball.
Reid is no longer a starter. What it shows is that the 49ers are sold on Jaquiski Tartt being a long-term answer for the 49ers secondary. The 49ers view Tartt and Jimmie Ward as the starters for 2018. All things being equal, Reid will have a chance to go somewhere else next season and be a starter.
The 49ers are not committed to re-signing him on a deal that extends beyond this season.
Is it a coincidence that the two worst teams in the NFL have the most cap space? (Gary Staebler)
That is no coincidence at all. It is the very reason the Cleveland Browns and 49ers are the only two winless teams in the NFL.
The Browns have $61.6 million in cap space. The 49ers are currently $61 million under the cap. Next year, with carryovers of unused space, the 49ers and Browns are projected to both have more than $117 million in cap room, according to Overthecap.com.
Bad teams do not draft well.
Teams that do not draft well, do not sign their draft picks to lucrative second contracts.
Therefore, teams that do not draft well cannot spend a large portion of their cap space to retain their own players because they have no good players worth retaining.
Veteran safety Eric Reid returned from a knee injury that kept him out three games to discover he lost his starting job.
Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt has continued to serve as an every-down player for the 49ers’ defense. On Sunday, Reid played 48 snaps (64 percent) as the 49ers employed six defensive backs against the Dallas Cowboys three-receiver sets.
The 49ers had to adjust their sub package after nickel back K’Waun Williams sustained a hip injury. Rookie Adrian Colbert entered the game at safety with Jimmie Ward taking over Williams’ role. Colbert played 29 snaps.
Newly signed defensive linemen Leger Douzable and Tony McDaniel saw a lot of action in their 49ers debuts. Douzable played the third-most of any defensive lineman (behind Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner), seeing action on 47 of the team’s 75 snaps. McDaniel played 25 snaps.
On offense, the 49ers appear to be making a point to go with younger players. Rookie Cole Hikutini played 21 snaps, taking over as the No. 2 tight end over Garrett Celek and Logan Paulsen.
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, another undrafted rookie, played a season-high 23 snaps. On fourth-and-4 from the Dallas 28 early in the third quarter, coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. Bourne was the intended target. But he stumbled after a spin move from the slot, and C.J. Beathard’s pass was incomplete.
“As I was throwing the ball he tripped,” Beathard said. “If he hadn’t tripped on a DB’s feet or whatever happened there, it would’ve been a big play.”
Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 66
Running back – Carlos Hyde 51, Matt Breida 15
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 46, Trent Taylor 46, Marquise Goodwin 39, Aldrick Robinson 30, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 31, Cole Hikutini 21, Garrett Celek 18, Logan Paulsen 11
Offensive line – Joe Staley 66, Daniel Kilgore 66, Laken Tomlinson 66, Brandon Fusco 52, Trent Brown 45, Garry Gilliam 20, Zane Beadles 14
Defensive line – Solomon Thomas 61, DeForest Buckner 50, Leger Douzable 47, Earl Mitchell 38, Xavier Cooper 26, D.J. Jones 25, Tony McDaniel 25, Elvis Dumervil 15
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 53, Eli Harold 31, Ray-Ray Armstrong 27, Brock Coyle 22, Dekoda Watson 9
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 63, Rashard Robinson 51, Ahkello Witherspoon 35, K’Waun Williams 20
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 75, Jimmie Ward 75, Eric Reid 48, Adrian Colbert 29
Elijah Lee 21, Coyle 21, Raheem Mostert 16, Celek 15, Colbert 16, Witherspoon 15, Breida 14, Harold 12, Hikutini 12, Armstrong 10, Tartt 10, Bradley Pinion 9, Jones 8, R.Robinson 8, Ward 8, Johnson 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Buckner 6, Thomas 6, Paulsen 6, Reid 5, Mitchell 5, Douzable 4, A.Robinson 3, Taylor 3, Robbie Gould 2, Foster 2, Staley 2, Kilgore 2, Gilliam 2, Beadles 2, Tomlinson 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1, Dumervil 1, Watson 1, Williams 1
DID NOT PLAY
QB Brian Hoyer
WR Victor Bolden
DB Dexter McCoil
FB Kyle Juszczyk (back)
LB Mark Nzeocha
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OL Erik Magnuson