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49ers Defense Produces Four Takeaways in Sunday's Practice

Posted Jul 27, 2014

A day after San Francisco’s passing attack threaded the defense with a number of deep balls, the defense responded in a big way.


The San Francisco 49ers defense got even with its offensive counterpart on Sunday.

A day after San Francisco’s passing attack threaded the defense with a number of deep balls, the defense responded in a big way.

With four forced turnovers.

Safeties D.J. Campbell and Antoine Bethea recorded their first interceptions of camp. Bethea’s was even sweeter considering it came on his 30th birthday.

Campbell’s turnover was on the final play of the opening 7-on-7 red zone period. Safety Bubba Ventrone deserves credit for deflecting the Blaine Gabbert pass into the arms of Campbell.

As for Bethea’s takeaway, McLeod Bethel-Thompson was the victimized quarterback. The signal-caller known as “Mac” launched a deep ball to wide receiver Devon Wylie, but he missed his intended target by a few yards. Bethea tracked the ball and made the catch as he fell to his right.

Members of the front seven also got in on the turnover act. Outside linebacker Dan Skuta forced a fumble after a short catch was made by second-year receiver Quinton Patton. Defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddie also recorded an interception after a short pass from Josh Johnson to running back Jewel Hampton was bobbled initially and ended up in the lineman’s hands.

Offensive Play of the Day

Gabbert finished his day completing a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vance McDonald. The second-year tight end ran a quick comeback route over the middle and once he turned back for the football, Gabbert’s short throw was already headed his way.

Gabbert finished the day completing 6-of-8 passes in team periods. He also fired a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd on a perfectly executed post pattern.

Defensive Play of the Day

The four takeaways were all worthy of this honor, but the real “wow” moment belonged to rookie cornerback Dontae Johnson.

Whenever the fourth-round draft pick matched up against veteran receiver Anquan Boldin, it’s truly a sight to behold. The veteran known for his physicality against a physical 6-foot-2, 200-pound cornerback playing in his first training camp is fun to watch. Such was the case when Johnson and Boldin competed for a red-zone fade pass from Colin Kaepernick.

Boldin appeared to have the ball in his possession, but at the last possible second, Johnson reached in and knocked the ball out for an impressive pass breakup.

Johnson later had a chance to intercept a Kaepernick pass, but the rookie was unable to finish the play as the ball popped out of his arms on his way to the ground.

Roster Update

Third-year running back LaMichael James suffered a left arm injury during the blitz pickup portion of practice. James was injured while blocking linebacker Michael Wilhoite. James was carted off the field immediately after the injury. The team has not made an official announcement on the severity of the injury. Punt and kick return responsibilities are now a definite storyline to track in camp.

The 49ers are also down another running back. Fourth-year pro Kendall Hunter suffered a torn right ACL two days earlier.

Rookie linebacker Aaron Lynch and rookie center Marcus Martin were activated off the Physically Unable to Perform List and Non-Football Injury lists, but both players did not dress for practice. Rookie receiver Bruce Ellington dressed again for practice, but he has not practiced in the three days since he was activated off the NFI list. Ellington, however, worked on catching punts on a side field during practice.

Defensive tackle Justin Smith (shoulder) and offensive tackle Anthony Davis (shoulder) did not practice.

Members of the PUP (physically unable to perform) list did not practice. The group includes linebacker NaVorro Bowman (knee), tight end Garrett Celek (back), nose tackle Ian Williams (leg) and defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey.

NFI (non-football injury) list members also were not practicing. The group included Lattimore (hamstring, knee), fullback Trey Millard (knee), cornerback Keith Reaser (knee) and guard Brandon Thomas (knee).

Observations

-The highlights of the wide receiver one-on-one drills against the cornerbacks featured the team’s starting quarterback. Kaepernick completed a 35-yard go route to new target Stevie Johnson at the expense of rookie cornerback Kenneth Acker. Kaepernick also completed a 40-yard touchdown to wide receiver Chuck Jacobs, who made a one-handed, over-the-shoulder reception.

-Patrick Willis took a scout-team rep at kick-off return and made a nifty move to beat rookie running back Carlos Hyde around the left side of the field.

-Marcus Lattimore is not 100 percent, according to Jim Harbaugh, but the second-year runner was observed sprinting and cutting on the adjacent turf field.

-Second-year linebacker Nick Moody has a solid showing on Sunday. He broke up a Gabbert pass and also stuffed a Hampton run play.

-Continuing on the second-year defensive player notes, Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine impressed again as pass-rushers and run-stuffers. Dial was a handful for offensive linemen in one-on-one blocking drills. Carradine, too, received praise from Harbaugh after stopping Hampton behind the line of scrimmage on a rush attempt.


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