SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers returned to their practice facility for Day 3 of training camp Monday, giving the oft-discussed field inside Levi's Stadium a much needed break.
Once again, the sod inside the team's $1.3 billion home became a hot topic over the weekend after the field performed poorly in the team's camp-opening practice immediately following a high school All-Star game Saturday.
Rotating fields isn't something new. The 49ers have two fields at their practice facility, and regularly switch fields to minimize wear and tear. It was head coach Jim Tomsula's decision to have his team's first eight practices inside Levi's Stadium, which was an over-ambitious proposition.
There will be three concerts and two preseason games played in Levi's Stadium before the start of the regular season Sept. 14. The team said a brand new field is expected to be installed before the start of the regular season, and should have 10 days to settle.
The 49ers will have their first padded practice of training camp Tuesday, but they have yet to decide if it will be held in their stadium or back in the practice facility. The team said it will return to the stadium for Wednesday's practice, which will be open for an event for personal seat license holders.
On the field Monday was another pad-less session won by the defense. Pro-Bowl left tackle Joe Staley was given the day off, forcing seventh-round pick Trent Brown into the starting lineup in his place. Brown rotated with Alex Boone, who continues to get the majority of his reps at left guard with the first team.
Running backs Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter, defensive back Jimmie Ward and outside linebacker Aaron Lynch all sat out of full-team drills for the third-straight day. Meanwhile, newly-acquired defensive end Darnell Dockett saw his first full-team action with San Francisco, working in nickel formations.
Kaepernick tried to hit Anquan Boldin to his short left with a fastball, but the pass was deflected into Brock's hands, who had an open lane down the sideline. Brock, who is back in the starting lineup after appearing in three games last season because of a toe injury, is having a solid camp.
Four plays earlier, Kaepernick had Vance McDonald streaking down the middle of the field uncovered for an easy touchdown, but the ball went through McDonald's hands as he tried an over-the-shoulder catch.
For most of the day, Kaepernick was forced to make throws out of rhythm because plays had either broken down or his targets were covered. Through the first three days, it's clear the defense is far more cohesive than the offense.
--Through the first two and a half practices, tempo has been a major theme. But the tempo slowed down considerably Monday in the second half of practice. It looked as though Staley being out altered substitution patterns and created a bit of confusion along the offensive line.
--Ahmad Brooks continued to be one of the bright spots of camp Monday. The outside linebacker was running down plays with the speed of an inside linebacker, and could not be blocked during individual pass rushing drills - where he bulldozed reserve tackle Sean Hooey and beat Erik Pears with a speed rush around the outside.
Coming off a season where he underperformed and entered camp out of shape, it's clear Brooks, 31, had a renewed focus this offseason despite speculation that he may get cut because of the remaining three years and $25.4 million on his contract.
Lynch, on the other hand, hasn't participated in 11-on-11s yet after a hamstring injury derailed his offseason. The talented second-year linebacker participated in individual drills Monday, but spent the rest of the session doing conditioning on the side field. His absence has allowed more reps for rookie Eli Harold and third-year player Corey Lemonier.
--First-round pick Arik Armstead's workload will increase as camp goes on. He was a regular participant with the second and third team at left defensive end Monday. Considering the depth along the defensive line, it doesn't look like Armstead will be moving up the depth chart soon. It's a crowded group, with more reps going to Quinton Dial, Tank Carradine, Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Tony Jerod-Eddie, and now, Dockett.
In the individual drills, Armstead's length and explosiveness are apparent. He covers a lot of ground when he explodes out of his stance, forcing offensive linemen to react quickly before they get out-leveraged. In team drills, Armstead struggled with double teams, which he will have to get used to.
--Undrafted free-agent pass rusher Marcus Rush intercepted fellow undrafted rookie Dylan Thompson when he tried to hit a receiver with a short pass to the right flat. Rush leaped in the air and snagged the floater, giving the defense its second forced turnover of the day.