SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The start of training camp is accompanied by players in cheery moods, happy to be back out on the practice field after a long offseason. But after more than two weeks of the practice grind, those feelings have started to fade for the San Francisco 49ers.
It started Tuesday, when defensive lineman Tank Carradine got into a scuffle with a defensive teammate on the sideline. Wednesday, Carradine found himself in the longest fight of an otherwise mild training camp. But he wasn't squabbling with someone expected.
It appeared Patton took exception to something Carradine did during the play, sized him up, and went after him after Carradine pushed back. Patton threw a punch while Carradine was wearing a helmet. The skirmish didn't last long.
Head coach Jim Tomsula was not happy. He stopped practice and offered his team some verbal reinforcements, letting them know that the fight would have resulted in at least one penalty, and fighting is not a good way to win games (censored version).
Tomsula was asked about training camp fights earlier in the day after tensions ran high in Tuesday's practice. Last week, Tomsula said, "I'm playing traffic cop" on the practice field when fights break out.
After Tuesday, he elevated that thought up a notch or two.
"I thought I was going to be a tow truck," he said before Wednesday's practice. "We handed out a couple citations yesterday...It's the dog days of camp and it gets heated here and there."
Next week, the 49ers travel to Denver to have two camp practices at the Broncos' facility leading up to their preseason game Saturday Aug. 29. In lieu of recent dust ups in joint practices - including between the Cowboys and Rams this week, and Washington and Houston previously - Tomsula said he's not worried about fights with the Broncos.
"I've been around coach (Gary) Kubiak enough to know the kind of person he is and I'm really excited about it. That whole thing that I think you're referring to, I'm not concerned about that."
--On the practice field, a few players began to work with different teams. Most notably, Aaron Lynch received first-team reps at his customary right outside linebacker spot, both in base and nickel formations. As a rookie last year, the vast majority of Lynch's snaps came in pass rushing situations, where he replaced Ahmad Brooks, who played mostly base.
But since Aldon Smith's release, Brooks has spent more time playing the right side, allowing Corey Lemonier and Marcus Rush to play on the left. Lynch is back in playing shape after dealing with offseason hamstring and back injuries that led to his weight getting up to 280 pounds, he said, after playing last season in the 260s.
--Keither Reaser saw snaps with the first team at left cornerback, replacing Shareece Wright, who worked with the second team on the right side for most of the day. After missing all of last season while dealing with ACL tear sustained at Florida Atlantic, Reaser is having a good camp, and might be the 49ers' fastest corner. Aside from Tramaine Brock, who's been earmarked as the team's top corner, the position group remains fluid. Where Reaser plays in Sunday's preseason game will be telling when it comes to handicapping the position battle.
--After being held out of Saturday's preseason loss to Houston, NaVorro Bowman practiced Wednesday without the brace on his surgically repaired left knee that he famously said he wanted to "light it on fire" in the offseason. That's a good sign as he continues to gain confidence in the knee.
In a running play during the second period of team drills, Bowman took on pulling guard Ian Silberman, and showed no ill effects. We'll know more about Bowman's potential playing status against the Cowboys in the coming days. But, to be sure, the 49ers won't be eager to get him in a preseason game until they know he's ready.
--The offensive highlight of the day came when Colin Kaepernick completed a deep corner throw to tight end Vernon Davis, who had a very good practice Wednesday. Davis was being trailed tightly by rookie free safety Jaquiski Tartt, and Kaepernick dropped the throw in Davis' lap in stride 25 yards down the field.
During the special teams period, Kaepernick worked with receiver Torrey Smith on deep throws, after the two were unable to connect in their one attempt on their opening drive Saturday against the Texans. Even though the pass fell incomplete, Kaepernick said he's able to build off it.
"It's a good opportunity for us to be able to talk about it, really work out the fine details of where we want to be hitting that throw, how we want to go about doing those plays, and that gave us a good foundation to start," Kaepernick said.
--LB Philip Wheeler (muscle strain), WR Bruce Ellington (muscle strain) and DT Glenn Dorsey (muscle strain) did not practice. LB Nick Bellore was elevated off the non-football injury list after dealing with an illness and returned to practice. TE Derek Carrier did not practice while dealing with a stomach bug. Newly acquired offensive lineman Jordan Devey practiced with the 49ers for the first time after being traded by the Patriots for TE Asante Cleveland.
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