The beast was back. And so were many of his friends.
Justin Smith made his 2014 training camp debut on Wednesday and the veteran defensive tackle looked like his bull-rushing self.
Case in point: Smith beat offensive tackle Carter Bykowski with an inside move and gave a gentle thud to rookie running back Carlos Hyde in the backfield.
The rookie went to the ground and bounced back up.
Smith displayed his well-known physicality without even really going his hardest. It was a classic camp moment for Smith, something he's done every year since joining the 49ers in 2008.
Smith wasn't the only notable camp sighting. He headlined several returns to the practice fields.
-Defensive tackle Ray McDonald returned to action and lined up with Smith on the first-team defensive line.
-Recently activated nose tackle Ian Williams also made his training camp debut. Williams saw a lot of practice reps in the later stages of practice.
-Third-year running back LaMichael James practiced in a blue, non-contact jersey. James suffered an elbow injury early in camp, but he was able to field kicks, plus catch passes and carry the ball in 11-on-11 work.
-Second-year tight end Vance McDonald also donned a blue practice jersey and was heavily involved in 7-on-7 and team periods.
-Michael Crabtree did ndividual work with his fellow wide receivers. Crabtree has been out of action due to a minor injury that hasn't been revealed by the 49ers coaching staff. Crabtree also took turns with Anquan Boldin and Stevie Johnson catching red-zone passes from Colin Kaepernick during a special teams period. Crabtree worked with a strength and conditioning coach later on and went into the locker room shortly after his rehab work.
-Tramaine Brock also did individual drills and joined Crabtree for side workouts with the strength staff.
-Brandon Lloyd did some 11-on-11 work, but the veteran receiver didn't take a heavy workload in his first full practice in more than a week. Lloyd caught an impressive post pattern from Kaepernick, too.
Offensive Plays of the Day
This honor will be shared between reserve running backs Jewel Hampton and Glenn Winston. Both runners found the end zone in a full-contact red zone period.
Hampton scored on a 5-yard rush behind right guard. Winston, leaped over the line of scrimmage on a 4th-and-goal snap from the 1-yard line.
Defensive Plays of the Day
Rookie Kenneth Acker recorded two interceptions on the day.
Both plays fired up his defensive teammates.
First, Acker broke on a Blaine Gabbert sideline pass intended for rookie receiver Bruce Ellington.
Not to be outdone, Acker intercpeted McLeod Bethel-Thompson's deep crossing route intended for David Reed. The second takeaway was even more impressive than the first. Acker flashed some nifty running skills and blazing speed as he ran down the right sideline with ball in hand.
-Vernon Davis worked on catching tennis balls from a tennis ball machine during special teams period. Davis stood 5 to 7 yards away and worked on catching the yellow balls with his right and left hands, one at a time. The hand-eye coordination drill paid off when Davis grabbed a 30-yard pass from Kaepernick in a 7-on-7 drill against the starting defense.
-Jonathan Martin missed practice due to a family matter, according to CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. Martin was replaced at right tackle by Ryan Seymour. The second-year pro had the difficult challenge of blocking Ahmad Brooks, who recorded two sacks on Kaepernick in 11-on-11 work.
-New 49ers linebacker Kion Wilson wore number 58 and received tips from Patrick Willis during practice. Willis sat the practice out, allowing Chris Borland and Michael Wilhoite to take the reps with the first-team defense. Borland broke up a Bethel-Thompson intended for wide receiver Kassim Osgood.
-Kaepernick completed a 40-yard touchdown to Johnson on a deep go route against rookie defensive back Jimmie Ward in 1-on-1 work. The 49ers starting quarterback later completed a 20-yard touchdown to Boldin in red zone 7-on-7 work.
-Kaepernick's only blemish on the day was a fumbled hand-off exchange with Hyde. The ball was recovered by Brooks to end an 11-on-11 period. In fairness, Brooks was already in the backfield at the time of the exchange and his presence likely distracted the quarterback and runner.
-Frank Gore showed excellent burst on a couple of interior runs. Gore scored two rushing touchdowns in the red zone, too.
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