SANTA CLARA, Calif. - At times, training camp can hit a lull. But that wasn't the case Sunday, as 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula had his team go full contact in an exciting goal line session.
Players were not holding back during the "live" session, in what turned out to be the most competitive few minutes of training camp to date.
The two highlights of the period both came on plays where former Australian Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne took hand offs. On the first, Hayne made outside linebacker Eli Harold miss with a move to the inside. But waiting for him at the goal line was Tank Carradine, who gave Hayne the best hit of training camp so far.
"Tank nailed him," Harold said afterwards. It was Carradine's first action since suffering an illness earlier in the week.
To his credit, Hayne scored a touchdown on his very next rep, breaking tackles from Arik Armstead and Shayne Skov on a stretch run to the right. When Hayne reached the sideline, running backs coach Tom Rathman greated him the jump-bump to celebrate.
To be sure, Hayne's first two hits in a live football session won't soon be forgotten.
Otherwise, a majority of the starters were held out of the drill to the prevent injuries. Second-year running back Kendall Gaskins and rookie Mike Davis received the bulk of the carries with Hayne. Gaskins also scored a touchdown. Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush did not receive carries.
On the drill's fourth play, Colin Kaepernick found Vance McDonald in the back of the end zone on a play-action roll-out to the right. McDonald leaked behind the defense after starting the play as a dummy blocker. Kaepernick's day was done after that.
Earlier in the day, Kaepernick hit Bush out of the back field for two touchdowns during a red zone period, a day after Bush got his first reps in full-team drills. But Kaepernick struggled toward the end of practice, completing 2 of his last 7 throws in 11-on-11s, unofficially finishing the day 10 of 21.
--The following 49ers did not practice Sunday: CB Leon McFadden (foot contusion), WR Bruce Ellington (strained muscle), LB Philip Wheeler (strained muscle), WR Chuck Jacobs (ankle) and DL Quinton Dial (sore knee).
--Kaepernick took a few chances throwing deep balls Sunday, but was unable to connect. He missed Quinton Patton deep down the right side with a throw that sailed out of bounds, and later missed Torrey Smith, although it looked like Smith slowed down before he recognized the ball was in the air. Though eight camp practices, Kaepernick has struggled with the deep ball.
--With the second-unit offense taking on the starting defense, Antoine Bethea made a nifty diving interception against Blaine Gabbert after a pass down the middle of the field deflected off tight end Asante Cleveland's hands.
Bethea dove for the ball and appeared to snare it just before it hit the ground. It was a close call.
--Linebacker Steve Beauharnais intercepted Dylan Thompson after his pass deflected off rookie tight end Blake Bell's hands in the left flat. Beauharnais attempted to hurdle Bell for the touchdown, but he was tripped up before he could score.
--Skov had his best practice of camp, which included a stop three yards deep in the back field during the goal line period. Skov, the former Stanford star, has improved significantly over the last year or so, and is creating the foundation for a run at a roster spot. There are three inside linebackers that appear to be locks for the 53-man roster (NaVorro Bowman, Nick Moody, Michael Wilhoite). If the 49ers elect to keep four, there will be a good battle for that last spot between Desmond Bishop, Wheeler, Nick Bellore, and Skov.