Kendall Hunter Leads Ground Attack vs. Stout Broncos Front Seven

DENVER -- In the Mile-High City, the San Francisco 49ers offense mostly kept the ball on the ground on Wednesday.

And while Pierre Garçon, Reggie Bush, Mike Davis and Jarryd Hayne all got their reps, the featured runner for the first day of the team's joint practices with the Denver Broncos was Kendall Hunter.

The fifth-year running back began team periods with the first unit and went on to receive a hefty amount of touches. He recorded several lengthy carries, looking comfortable with his cuts up the field. He also caught a couple passes out of the backfield and deployed some nifty moves to get past the first wave of defenders. Denver's front seven includes the likes of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan.

It appears as if Hunter, who missed 2014 with an ACL injury, has little-to-no lingering effects from the lost season. At least that's what Jim Tomsula is seeing.

The San Francisco 49ers took part in a practice with the Denver Broncos in the mile-high city as they prepare to face each other in Week 3 of the preseason.

"Wasn't he moving around really well?" Tomsula said. "You all could see him move and have that burst. I feel really good for Kendall. We wanted to get to this point where we could give him a little bit more reps and get him moving here."

Here are 8 other offensive notes from the UC Health Training Center

  • Wide receivers Bruce Ellington (muscle strain), Dres Anderson (soreness) and Chuck Jacobs (ankle sprain) all practiced on Wednesday. It was Ellington's second day back after returning on Tuesday in Santa Clara. Quinton Patton retained the No. 3 wideout reps.
  • Garrett Celek (ankle sprain) was sidelined, but Tomsula sounded optimistic that the tight end will be ready for Week 1. "We want him to be full speed for the season," he said
  • Rookie offensive lineman Ian Silberman got the first-team reps at right guard throughout practice. Joe Looney began the day starting at center before Marcus Martin rotated in with the first unit. Of Silberman's performance, Tomsula said there were "some good things and some things we have to get sured up."
  • The play of the day on offense came toward the tail end of practice. In the final team period, Colin Kaepernick hit Garrett Celek down the middle of the field in between the safety and linebacker for a 30-yard gain. Celek outreached the defenders to haul in the catch in stride. The highlight came moments after Celek committed the offense's only penalty of the day on a false start.

"I thought it was huge because the play before he had jumped offsides," Kaepernick said. "He came back and made a huge play for our offense. So I think mentally, just the focus he had to come back and make a big play like that was big for us."

  • In 7-on-7 work, Kaepernick threw four touchdown passes: one to Vernon Davis, one to Anquan Boldin, one to Patton and one to Hyde. In 11-on-11 drills, the 49ers quarterback rushed for a first down on 3rd-and-7 and converted on 4th-and-short with a shallow pass to Boldin.
  • In 1-on-1 periods between San Francisco's offensive line and Denver's defensive line, Pears turned in the best rep when he stopped future Hall-of-Famer DeMarcus Ware. Rookie offensive lineman Patrick Miller also had a strong performance versus fellow rookie Shane Ray, who was a first-round pick.
  • Blaine Gabbert threw a touchdown in the final team period, as Blake Bell came down with a tipped ball and sped into the end zone. Dylan Thompson also led a scoring drive, capping it with a swing pass to Jarryd Hayne.
  • Phil Dawson connected on 7-of-7 field-goal attempts.
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