Notes and observations from this afternoon’s practice in Santa Clara…
• Small miracles: WR Brandon Jones (hamstring) and LB Travis LaBoy (concussion) both returned to the field today. LaBoy had been out since Aug. 5, Jones since Aug. 7. Jones actually stretched it out and beat CB Patrick Stoudamire on a deep route, but couldn’t quite pull in a pass from Nate Davis in the end zone.
• Missing work were TE Vernon Davis (knee), WR/KR Kyle Williams (toe), G Chris Patrick (shoulder), LB Brandon Long (knee), CB Will James (ankle), C Eric Heitmann (leg) and LB Ahmad Brooks (lacerated kidney). WR Michael Crabtree (neck) caught balls against air, but retired to the sidelines after that.
• We just can’t seem to get ahead of the Joe Nedney mini-saga. No one really noticed he was hurt until he didn’t play at Indianapolis. Singletary said today that Nedney has been “a little sore.” But there he was during practice, kicking a few field goals on the opposite field. He looked fine.
• Singletary seemed in no rush to make a decision on Williams, who sprained the big toe on his right foot against the Colts. He mentioned Ted Ginn and Dominique Zeigler as his other punt returners, and said, “There are a couple of guys that I think have done it and may get a shot between now and the end of training camp.”
• Singletary added that ideally, he’d like to use Ginn as a kickoff returner more than a punt returner.
• Alex Smith’s best throw of the day may have been a strike to Ginn down the left sideline, right on target vs. CB Shawntae Spencer’s coverage. Ginn made an even better catch later when he reached back to get Smith’s throw with one hand. The starting QB was off-target on some passes, but finished with a flourish in simulated 2-minute drill. He completed it with a touchdown throw to WR Jason Hill.
• Alex Boone replaced Anthony Davis briefly at right tackle. Davis consulted with trainer Jeff Ferguson, but whatever the problem was, it sorted itself out quickly.