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Vance McDonald Enjoys Productive Day 7

Posted Jul 31, 2014

McDonald made the most of his practice reps. Vernon Davis had a limited role in practice on Thursday.


Second-year pro, Vance McDonald, had a notable practice on Thursday.

Despite the seventh training camp session being a pad-less afternoon, the tight end made plenty of head-turning plays. Literally.

McDonald made the most of his practice reps. Starting tight end Vernon Davis had a limited role in practice. Veteran receivers Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd, who are both “working through something," did not practice at all.

That meant more opportunities for other targets in the passing game. McDonald answered the call. He made his best reception of camp, reaching out to make a fingertip catch on a 20-yard seam route thrown by Colin Kaepernick. After the practice, it turns out the young tight end didn’t quite execute the play to perfection.

McDonald was late to turn his head around and look back at his quarterback, offensive coordinator Greg Roman revealed.

"We’d like to get him around a little bit quicker there," Roman said. "I think entirely, us as an offense going through training camp, everything is not going to be perfect and I don’t know that we’d want it to be."

McDonald’s catch showed he's improving as a pass-catcher entering year two of his NFL career. McDonald caught three other passes from Kaepernick and another deep ball from Blaine Gabbert.

"Vance has done a very good job," Roman said. "He’s certainly, a year under his belt, he’s a lot better player than he was when he got here a year ago. He’s certainly better off for being exposed to everything that he’s been exposed to last year in terms of offseason, training camp, preseason, regular season, playoffs. He’s got a lot of experience under his belt. Played a lot of snaps as a first-year player.

"I think a lot of his game is coming along. It’s just like anybody else, like the sign says outside, ‘You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse’. I really think he’s making strides and getting better."

Offensive Play of the Day

McDonald turned in the best catch, but the best play was Quinton Patton’s touchdown grab to end a two-minute drive.

Kaepernick completed four consecutive passes and capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown throw to Patton, the second-year wideout. Patton beat Perrish Cox with a double move off the line and was wide open downfield.

Defensive Play of the Day

Patrick Willis recorded his first interception of camp on Wednesday and recorded another takeaway on Thursday.

Fullback Will Tukuafu was the victim this time.

The former defensive lineman caught a short pass from Gabbert and was stripped immediately by Willis. Aldon Smith promptly scooped up the ball to secure possession for the defense.

Roster Update

Chris Culliver returned to practice. Tramaine Brock did not. Culliver and Cox were the starting cornerbacks. Wide receiver Jon Baldwin also returned to practice after missing two sessions.

Defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs was not at practice for a second consecutive day. The Sacramento Bee reported it was due to personal reasons and Dobbs is expected to return on Friday.

Rookie linebacker Aaron Lynch and rookie center Marcus Martin dressed for practice but did not take part. They warmed up and then worked with strength coaches for the rest of the day.

Defensive tackle Justin Smith (shoulder) and offensive tackle Anthony Davis (shoulder) did not practice. Ray McDonald (leg) did not practice as well.

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 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

-Stevie Johnson hauled in a 30-yard deep ball from Gabbert. The best part of the pass connection between first-year 49ers was Johnson quickly toe-tapping both feet before crashing to the ground.

-Undrafted tight ends Asante Cleveland and Kevin Greene both caught their first touchdown passes of training camp. Greene caught a short pass from McLeod Bethel-Thompson in a team red zone period. Cleveland caught a 20-yard high ball from Bethel-Thompson in a red zone 7-on-7 period.

-Chuck Jacobs caught several sideline passes in team work. Cox, however, broke up a Josh Johnson deep ball intended for Jacobs down the right sideline later in practice. 

-Jimmie Ward was flagged for pass interference on a deep Kaepernick pass to Anquan Boldin. The veteran receiver still caught the 20-yard go route with the rookie draped on his back. Ward broke up a Gabbert pass intended for David Reed on the very next play.

-The final special teams period saw rookie receiver Bruce Ellington and veteran wideout Devon Wylie handling the punt duties.

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