SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The San Francisco 49ers had their first padded practice of training camp Tuesday. And, in an ongoing theme, the defense won the day.
San Francisco's offensive line, missing two former first-round picks that started a season ago, is far behind the team's talented defensive front. Throughout camp, the trenches have been a battle of the best position group the 49ers have, against their weakest.
Losing former left guard Mike Iupati to free agency and right tackle Anthony Davis to retirement, through four training camp practices, appears incredibly detrimental. It's very early still, but the dominance of the defensive line has prevented Colin Kaepernick from getting into any sort of rhythm during practice.
The highlight of the day for the defense came when cornerback Shareece Wright picked off Kaepernick along the right sideline, after Kaepernick was forced to make an off-balanced throw to avoid an all-out blitz. The throw was intended for Quinton Patton, and Wright easily returned it 30 yards for a score.
The number of chances Kaepernick had to throw with his feet underneath him in full-team drills could be counted on one hand. Unofficially, he finished the day having completed 5 of 11 passes.
The offensive highlight of the day came when backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert lofted a nicely thrown ball roughly 30 yards down field to undrafted free-agent receiver Dres Anderson, who beat Leon McFadden for the tough grab along the left sideline during a two-minute drill. However, the drill completed with a turnover on downs after sacks put the offense in a 4th-and-long situation.
At one point, Gabbert was sacked four straight times behind the team's second unit offensive line. It's difficult to tell exactly what constitutes a sack during practice, particularly from different angles on the field, but the discussion among media members is there were 9 to 12 sacks during full-team drills Tuesday.
Here are some other notes from the day:
--Running back Jarryd Hayne, the former Australian Rugby League star, saw his first action in football pads Tuesday.
It didn't take long for him to get hit. In a blitz pick up drill immediately following warmups, linebacker Nick Moody wasted no time and gave Hayne a direct hit to his chest. To Hayne's credit, he kept his pads down and held his ground.
Overall, it wasn't a bad day for Hayne, who didn't look overwhelmed in team drills and managed to keep his pad level down, both with the ball and when blocking.
Hayne, along with reserve running backs Mike Davis and Kendall Gaskins, received most of the reps Tuesday with Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter on the sideline, who have yet to participate in full-team drills since camp began.
--Receiver Jerome Simpson, who was signed as a free-agent this spring, missed the last two days of practice for personal reasons, the 49ers announced. Rookie safety Jacquiski Tartt warmed up, but did not practice. His absence allowed L.J. McCray to work in with the second team.
--NaVorro Bowman was given a veteran's day off after participating in the first three training camp practices. It's clear head coach Jim Tomsula does not have a problem with resting his veterans early in camp.
To this point, Bowman has looked spry coming off his knee injury. Moody and Shayne Skov saw the first reps at inside linebacker with the first team, while Philip Wheeler and Desmond Bishop also rotated in.
--Just about all the players along the 49ers defensive front have looked good during the first four days of camp. But one player standing out, in particular, is nose tackle Ian Williams.
Williams was disruptive again Tuesday, registering at least one sack of Kaepernick and constantly providing pressure straight up the middle.
Perhaps Williams' most impressive move of camp came Monday in 1-on-1 drills, when he locked up with left guard Alex Boone, looking like Boone had him stifled. Then, with one quick step, Williams spun back to his left leaving Boone in his dust. It was a 305-pound pirouette that looked easy after Boone appeared to have Williams leveraged.
Williams, of course, is coming off two straight seasons with a fracture in his lower leg, but has said the recovery from last year's injury was far easier than his first in 2013 that required four surgeries to fix.
--The 49ers will be in pads again Wednesday back inside Levi's Stadium. The team said it's expecting 40,000 personal seat license holders to attend. The last two practices have been held on the team's practice fields. Sod issues over the weekend prevented the 49ers from sticking to the schedule, which had the first eight practices of camp to be held inside the stadium.