SANTA CLARA, Calif. - "It will be awesome."
Those were the words from the San Francisco 49ers' understated right tackle Anthony Davis Thursday, who could be back in the lineup Sunday against the Eagles for the first time since breaking his 72 consecutive start streak to begin his career, including the playoffs.
Davis suffered a labrum and biceps injury early last year, but played through it before requiring shoulder surgery in April. He missed the entire offseason program and most of training camp before returning prior to Week 3 of the preseason. But he sustained a hamstring strain that has since kept him out of the lineup and off the practice field before this week, forcing former Dolphin Jonathan Martin into the lineup. Davis has been officially listed as "limited" in both practices this week.
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During his recovery, Davis said, "I was active. I just couldn’t use my shoulder for a while," indicating his injury didn't result from being rushed back to the field.
The 49ers offense has undergone a change in identity this season, moving on from the run-heavy team it was in the previous three years to becoming more versatile. The team in the offseason acquired receivers Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and Bruce Ellington, hoping to offset defenses' loading the box. San Francisco has passed the ball on 31 times on average through three weeks after averaging 26 attempts in 2013.
In Sunday's 23-14 loss to the Cardinals, the 49ers threw the ball 37 times and called just nine running plays for backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde combined. Davis' strong suit is the running game, and perhaps his absence, along with tight ends Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald, contributed to the team's pass-heavy game plan in last week's loss in the Cardinals.
Although Martin allowed two sacks in the team's final drive against Chicago, he's more effective in pass protection than run blocking. Martin is Pro Football Focus' No. 42 rated tackle in the running game and 29th in pass blocking.
Davis' injury came in Week 3 of last season, when the 49ers lost to the Colts to become 1-2, falling under .500 for the first time with Jim Harbaugh as head coach. His team is in the same position this year, leaving Davis confident the team can turn it around after finishing 12-4 in 2013.
"Everybody can focus," Davis said of his teammates. "Everybody comes into work and focuses on the thing they need to be doing. You work like that, focus, and just keep chopping at it, good things will happen."
Michael Crabtree showed up on the report Thursday with a quad issue, but was a full participant. Frank Gore was listed with a back injury and also practiced in full. Vernon Davis (knee, ankle) was limited for the second straight day. Vance McDonald returned to the field after missing Wednesday's practice. He was listed also listed as limited. Cornerback Tramaine Brock and center Marcus Martin were the only 49ers to sit out practice.
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