Alex Smith is starting to get his weapons back. WR Michael Crabtree, who injured his neck on Aug. 11 and had been limited to individual work for about a week, was back on the field for team and 7-on-7 work today. And yes, the hands looked as reliable as ever.
TE Vernon Davis, who injured his knee against the Colts on Aug. 15, did not work with teammates. But Davis caught passes from a Jugs machine after practice, coach Mike Singletary made it sound as though he could resume work any day.
Neither Crabtree nor Davis played against the Vikings on Sunday. Neither did RBs Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook, though that had more to do with caution (Gore) and not yet grasping the offense (Westbrook) than with injuries. Singletary said “it’s possible” Gore will get carries against the Raiders this Saturday.
“I think it comes down to timing,” Singletary said. “I think it’s like everything else You have a runner, a very good runner. You want to be careful, but at the same time you don’t want to limit him too much. I just think you want to be wise; you want to make good decisions. We know what Frank can do, but with this line, our offensive line have not really had the opportunity to feel the timing of Frank, to really feel his quickness and the way he makes cuts and things like that in a live situation.”
The 49ers opened the game with a patchwork on offense at Candlestick on Sunday, at least at the skill positions. It’s possible they will begin the Raiders game with their full complement.
Other notes and observations from this afternoon’s (hot-hot-hot) practice in Santa Clara…
• It was probably 100 degrees on the field at the start of practice. Football players in Florida and Tennessee will probably mock our consternation, but remember, the 49ers have routinely been starting morning practice in 58-degree weather this summer, and it has rarely climbed above 75 here.
• Beyond the longer-term injuries, the only player out of commission today was OLB Brandon Long. CB Shawntae Spencer bowed out of the second half of practice – he was replaced by Karl Paymah or Tarell Brown – but there was no word of an injury and he looked unhindered.
• Alex Smith’s first throw against the defense was intercepted by Spencer in 7-on-7. Smith was slightly off-target for much of practice, throwing a little high and behind receivers. However, he led the first offense in a successful 2-minute drill, taking the ball 67 yards for a score against the third-team defense. Smith hit WR Josh Morgan for a 20-yard gain vs. Patrick Stoudamire on third-and-9, and finished the march with a 7-yard touchdown throw to Crabtree on a swing pass. Smith also connected with WR Josh Morgan for a long touchdown over Brown in a separate team period.
• Backup QB David Carr didn’t have a flawless day either. He dropped two snaps, and on one play threw to a receiver, FB Moran Norris, who wasn’t looking for the ball. Very few snaps for Nate Davis today.
• Paymah threw his hands up at the line of scrimmage to bat down one of Smith’s passes in team period.
• Phillip Adams and Kevin Jurovich joined Ted Ginn and Bobby Guillory for punt returns today.
• Singletary said he doesn’t believe OLB Ahmad Brooks’ lacerated kidney will keep him out of the lineup when the regular season starts: “I talked to our trainers and they feel very positive about it, but we’re just being smart about it.”
• And here’s Sing on WR/KR Kyle Williams’ sprained big toe: “At this point, we’re just continuing to evaluate him. We’ll just see week-in, week-out how that goes. But it was a pretty good sprain there.”