Training camp report: Culliver injures left knee, Vernon Davis catches a TD playing WR

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what stood out to me at Thursday’s padded practice.


1. Vernon Davis – He lined up everywhere – tight end, in the backfield and out wide. In a red-zone drill, Davis lined up at split end across from Tarell Brown. Davis beat Brown on an inside move and caught a touchdown pass from Colt McCoy.

2. Nnamdi Asomugha – He was the second-team right cornerback and he didn’t give up any catches. He knocked away one pass from McCoy intended for Chad Hall.

3. Tramaine Brock – He was the first-team left cornerback during Nickel, and he held his own. On one play he lined up against Vernon Davis. McCoy threw a short pass to Davis, but Brock was all over him and knocked it away.

4. Michael Wilhoite – He replaced Patrick Willis at strongside inside linebacker. He batted away one pass from Kaepernick to Anquan Boldin, and later Wilhoite intercepted a Kaepernick pass that was tipped by Nick Moody, who was playing weakside inside linebacker in place of NaVorro Bowman.

5. Garrett Celek – He caught four passes and a touchdown. The 49ers have been using him as a deep seam threat much more than Vance McDonald, who’s been lining up in the backfield and slot and running mostly short and intermediate routes.

6. Joe Looney – He faced Glenn Dorsey twice in one-on-one blocking drills and blocked the former top-10 pick twice. Looney has been the second-team center behind Daniel Kilgore.

7. Quinton Patton – Despite his broken finger, Patton participated in practice and made a one-handed catch with his healthy hand.


1. Chris Culliver – He injured his left knee in a special teams punt coverage drill. Culliver, a gunner, was lined up against Marcus Cooper. Culliver blew past him at the line, but Cooper caught up with him downfield. Culliver tried to juke Cooper with a swim move and a cut, but his left knee buckled. The trainers had to cart him off of the field. He currently is getting an MRI on the knee at Stanford Hospital.

2. Aldon Smith – Today he joined the sideline crew, the group of 49ers “working through” injuries. Other members of the sideline crew are Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Jonathan Goodwin, Kendall Hunter, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Marcus Lattimore, Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Kassim Osgood and Mario Manningham. The 49ers have had 15 injuries this offseason when you count Michael Crabtree, Darius Flemming and Brandon Carswell.

3. Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown – The 49ers’ starting cornerbacks gave up three catches each today. The reserves – Asomugha and Brock – played much better.

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  1. So if Cully’s out, TBrown and Awesomeguy on the outsides and Rogers in the slot with Cox or Brock as the dime?

    1. Now that I reread what I just wrote… what about Brock in the slot? I know Lord Fangio still supports CR there, but have they at least tried the kid at that position?

  2. Adversity… Hopefully Coach gave some encouraging words to help get the teams confidence and morale up. We are gonna need NA to step up if what CC has is serious, and it looks good that Wilhoite is doing good at inside LB and eases the pressure of Willis to get ready for week 1. Grant I noticed no WR stood out or did bad- What was it like for them today?

  3. Great to hear Brock is looking good. The Niners may need him to play a more prominent role this season.

    Also liking what I’m reading about the backup ILB’s. If there is a silver lining to the injuries to Willis and Bowman, it’s that they are getting a chance to see the young guys play and they are doing pretty well so far.

    Thanks for the quick updates Grant. Love the breakdowns you post.

  4. Grant

    Big picture question here.

    How much, really, can training camp show, in terms of The Good and The Bad. In other words, how do you extrapolate what you see in practice to game situations, and what weight do you give to the things you see.

  5. Grant what about Ian Williams? Taylor on Twitter said he was a beast knocking O-Line on their back and knocking off helmets

  6. Hey grant I have read nothing but good reports thus far on Nnamdi. Is it because he’s been that good or just not being tested much?

  7. There goes cully for the season.what in the world are they doing out there how about tone down tranning camp when you see everyone is getting hurt.

    1. Most of the injuries have been non contact so it’s not about how physical the practices have been. It’s just a lot of bad luck. Thankfully most of the injuries are fairly minor in nature and most of these guys will return over the coming weeks. So far the only long term injuries sustained were Crabs in May and now possibly Culliver.

  8. Thanks Grant,

    Nice to see Patton on the Good side finally. Very encouraging.

    I’m really hoping Patton works out this season and fills the void for Crabs.

  9. Everybody needs to calm down. The injury frenzy attacks early in training camp every year. Takes time for bodies to get into football shape. The good news is the 49ers are deeply talented behind starters. Hope the walking wounded heal fast, but this is a battle of attrition and only the strong survive. Part of training camp. Come to think of it, kind of like boot camp. The first month is the worst.

    1. Agreed.

      The way I see it, its a chance for the younger guys to get some good reps, and it lets vets rest up for the regular season.

      What a buncha whiners

      1. Leo, that’s true for most positions, but those “young guys” in the WR group have already been missing time. Gotta remember that the 1st preseason game is only a week away and it would be great if they could play against another team’s DB’s.

    2. Thanks. Fans always overreact when every year its the same thing. Players get hurt on the football field at all levels.

      1. Crab got hurt in a non-contact drill and that was 3 months ago. Cully doesn’t start and Willis would play this weekend if it was the regular season. Stop overreacting. Injuries are all about luck. One year you have few they next you can have a lot.

      2. Since you asked: In 2012 training Camp Aldon Smith badly bruised his hip and was shelved until the GB game, Crabtree got hurt again and spend the first week on the sidelines, Delanie Walker had a knee injury at the Fan Fest and also sat out +1 weeks of TC and missed the final few preseaosn games. Want more? Its all out there for you to find. Welcome to the NFL Jack.

      3. That didn’t answer the question. Who did they lose last offseason that would have been a starter/major contributor? Haralson is one. Any others?

      4. I agree with Jack. The team has been remarkably healthy over the last two years. Culliver is a good player. If he is out for the year, it will hurt the defense.

      5. Thanks Mike. I couldn’t remember and was too lazy to look it up myself. My apologies if asking a question sounded like an overreaction.

      6. No worries. I’m just as bummed about Crabtree and Cully as anyone. I thought both were poised to have great seasons. But every year every football team loses at least one starter to IR at some point. You just hope its not to one of your super stars.

  10. Injuries are like football players they come and go. Really glad to see NA playing well in the secondary, that could turn in to a huge coup for the Niners. Sounding like VD is going to be Mr. Universal this year. He has the talent and mindset to play any of the receiver positions.

  11. Grant, haven’t heard much about Hall the last couple of reports other than NA has an INT and a batted-down pass against him. Is he being targeted less? Not getting open? Dropping balls?

  12. I’m worried about some of the rooks not getting any work. We knew about Caradine, but Dial’s lack of work now makes it less likely he’ll contribute this season. I doubt they want to risk him on the PS.

    1. Jack,

      Thanks. Nice piece on Colts.

      Here’s the nagging question (wait for it):
      In PMs last healthy season, the team was a playoff team. In his last season, the team missed the playoffs. Luck was touted as the second coming of PM, and in his first season, the team was a playoff team.

      Why is everyone so gobsmacked that Andrew Luck was able to fulfill his presumed potential and so impressed that the Colts made the playoffs? Is the return to the playoffs (and the immediate exit therefrom) just a return to the status quo, or is it the dawning of an evolution of the Colts in the playoffs?

      1. Maybe you need to read it again E. Under Grigson, and Pagano they are transforming that team into a punch you in the mouth group. Pagano comes from the new Harbaugh coaching tree.

        This team is going to be the Midwest version of the Ravens and 49ers.

  13. Sorry to hear about Cullivers injury but what a great opportunity for my man Tramaine Brock to step up and take this opportunity.
    It’s unfortunate the 49ers didn’t address the CB position in the draft or free agency outside of Nnamdi. Overall I think there is enough depth but Carlos Rodgers from all reports has not played well. He started to slow down late last year and now him and Brown might get picked on.
    Lets hope the pass rush is dialed in to give these guys time to cover.

      1. Bum? He will start in the nickel and if he doesn’t I will leave the blog forever, sound familiar 23 clown?
        I love it when the peanut gallery comes back and shows the idiocy! Welcome back Bays boy toy!

  14. Any reason why Vernon could not be successful playing WR a bunch? He’s big, he’s fast, he can catch the football.

  15. Primetime, the way the league is now, the pass rush BETTER be dialed in huge time or Kap will have to be Dan Marino, circa 1984 for the team to have a chance.

    1. A good pass rush can make a weak secondary look good. If the 49ers start Reid as a rookie they will need everyone back there to be 100% on the same page.
      If the boys upfront can get pressure from a host of guys rotating in, it should be a very good defense. I’m hoping Aldon returns to form, Brooks and Parys rounding out 8-10 sacks each and then something from the rookies and Cam Johnson.
      Most underated 49er on the dline the past 3 years: Ray MacDonald.

    1. T. Brock, next man up! Nnamdi looks like a great signing right now. Pretty sure the Niners will be looking at other teams potential practice squads in a frenzy. Tough luck Cully, get well!

  16. Wr DB is weakness of team can you focus more on the daily one on one match UPS please. Keep the Jenkins watch going I want to no what he is doing every minute he is on thefield

  17. Looks like top 3 corners will be Brown Asomugha and Rogers. This is a big blow. These three need to stay healthy

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