On the Field
Between plays midway through practice, safeties C.J. Spillman and Michael Thomas engaged in words that led to fists being thrown and the players hitting the turf as their teammates crowded around and tried to break up the fight.
Front and center was Jim Harbaugh, who rushed to the scene immediately, fell to the ground with Spillman and Thomas and did his best to break up his two players.
Spillman was ejected from practice with his sweat pants torn (the team was in shells in preparation for Friday's game in Kansas City).
Spillman, an incumbent safety that's seen his reps decline after working with the first team in the fourth, fifth and sixth day of training camp, remains a favorite to make the team over Thomas, who played for Harbaugh at Sanford.
Thomas was on the practice squad last year after joining the team as an undrafted free agent and is a long shot to make the roster with the return of Trenton Robinson - who also received three days' reps with the first team early in camp.
After Spillman was sent to the showers, Thomas continued practicing with the reserve defense. He has also seen action at nickel corner behind Perrish Cox and Carlos Rogers. Since coming back from injury Monday, Tarell Brown has also spent time covering the slot receiver with the first-team defense. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he was pleased with Brown's work there.
A.J. Jenkins had his first good practice in roughly a week. A good showing was much needed for last season's first-round pick after his one-catch, one-fumble performance in the team's first preseason game. He received most of his reps with the first team offense and was targeted four times by Colin Kaepernick and made three catches.
Jenkins might have landed out of bounds on his most explosive play of the day. With time winding down in the two-minute drill, Kaepernick hit him on a deep out to the left roughly 25-yards down field. Jenkins made the catch but appeared to be forced out of bounds before getting both feet in.
Later, Jenkins would make a strong catch over the middle from Kaepernick as he fought for position against Darryl Morris. He also made a play on a deep corner route to the right side.
Fourth tight end MarQueis Gray had his best day of training camp to date, making two tough catches over the middle against the first team defense. Gray was working with the scout team and beat Donte Whitner over the middle when he high-pointed a pass from Scott Tolzien.
Austin Collie also had a strong day as he continues to work his way back from last season's patella injury. Collie is still easing his way into the offense, but is working well with Colt McCoy. The two connected on back-to-back passes on a slant and a difficult back-shoulder throw 20 yards down the right sideline. Collie was targeted four times in team drills and made receptions on all four throws.
Eric Reid worked with the first-team defense again. Prior to practice, Fangio said he wasn't sure when Reid would play in Friday's preseason game, but the first-round pick has seen reps with the starters in the last two days of practice.
Joe Staley, Vance McDonald and Bubba Ventrone missed practice again. Jewel Hampton, who has been out since the loss to Denver, returned to action and received a high volume of reps. Hampton should get some playing time after not getting any snaps in the opener. B.J. Harper had two carries in the game and one resulted in the fumble allowing the Broncos to score the game's only touchdown.
In the Press Tent
Fangio opened Tuesday's media session and was asked about Reid's progression throughout camp.
"I thought he played well in the game, showed progress, showed promise and then he kind of had a slow week here with a little injury,” Fangio said.
Reid finished second on the team with six tackles, included tough hard hits on plays down the field. His first might of been his best as he drilled Virgil Green on his way out of bounds early in the second quarter.
"I felt comfortable. I do think there were some things I can improve on. But for the most part I feel like I had a good game," Reid said.
"We didn't give up any big plays on defense, so that's always good."
Rookie outside linebacker Corey Lemonier was also discussed. Although he didn't make any tackles in his NFL debut, he had a strong game in his first preseason test.
"Corey is making the hard transition that a lot of guys from college have to do. He was a defensive end in college trying to transition to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4, much like [LB] Aldon [Smith] had to when he was a rookie.," Fangio said.
"And, he’s progressed well...Aldon was in the lockout year and he didn’t have all the spring work that Corey’s gotten. So, from a knowhow and technique standpoint as an outside backer, he might be a little bit ahead of Aldon at the same stage. But, that’s because he had all the spring work and Aldon didn’t.”
Morris, the undrafted rookie corner, has put together a strong week of camp and is competing with seventh-round pick Marcus Cooper for a chance to remain on the team's practice squad. The two players are very different. Cooper has the tall, lengthy build while Morris possesses more speed than perhaps any corner on the roster.
"(Morris has) done a good job of covering. You may have seen the couple plays he’s made going against our offense on some deep balls. That’s always encouraging to see. The guy can really run. He’s fast, really fast. If you watch him this past game, and I’m sure if he’s on the kickoff team, he’s probably the first guy down," Fangio said.
"He’s got good size for a corner. Early in camp he wasn’t playing like a good-size corner because he was doing a lot of thinking. He’s still in that stage, but he’s doing less thinking. So, we’re pleased with his development so far.”
Fangio also reiterated that he doesn't have a prognosis on rookies Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, who both remain out of action while recovering from ACL and toe injuries, respectively.
"When we drafted those two guys, this was the picture that was painted. So, we’re not surprised that they haven’t hit the field yet. It doesn’t look like they’ll hit it real soon either. That was what was expected when we drafted them, much like [RB Marcus] Lattimore, the running back. Not to his extent, but, that was the picture that was painted,” he said.
The contributions from Carradine and Dial will likely be minimal this season, which puts the onus on Glenn Dorsey, Will Tukuafu and Demarcus Dobbs to provide depth to a defensive line that's seen nearly all of the team's snaps the last two seasons.