Summary: The 49ers' offensive struggles inside the red zone were apparent again on Friday. Or was it that the 49ers' defense was so good? Either way, coach Jim Harbaugh acknowledged the obvious that the defense controlled the action "about every which way it could be dominated. It was an outstanding day for our defense."Conversely, the 49ers' offense looked completely out of sync with a lot of high passes, dropped passes and poor execution. It did not help that offense played most of the day without three presumptive starters on the line. Left guard Mike Iupati was excused from practice with his wife, Ashley, expecting the couple's first child. Right guard Alex Boone sat out most of practice after getting hit, uh, below the belt, Harbaugh said. Also, backup center Daniel Kilgore took most of the first-team reps with veteran Jonathan Goodwin getting rest for the second half of practice.Unlike Thursday when the 49ers' defense picked off seven passes, there weren't a lot of turnovers. Cornerback Chris Culliver intercepted Josh Johnson's pass intended for tight end Demarcus Dobbs. And the day concluded with safety Dashon Goldson's interception of an Alex Smith pass that was tipped by Tarrell Brown before it reached intended target Mario Manningham.In an 11-on-11 portion, Colin Kaepernick had Vernon Davis running all alone down the middle of the field but his pass attempt took a nose dive into the ground, far short of the target. Receiver Randy Moss was targeted on high, uncatchable passes from Johnson (twice) and Smith. Kendall Hunter, Manningham, Dobbs, Ted Ginn, Vernon Davis, and Garrett Celek each dropped a pass. Safety Donte Whitner broke up another pass that was intended for Dobbs when he got a helmet on the ball just as the pass arrived.The offense had little luck getting the ball into the end zone, even though most of the practice was devoted to red-zone situations. Brett Swain took a Scott Tolzien pass the final three yards into the end zone on a 9-yard scoring play. Chris Owusu caught a pass at the 2-yard line from Johnson for an 8-yard TD. And Hunter caught a pass out of the backfield from Smith for a 4-yard score.Injury report: Receiver Michael Crabtree (right leg) sat out his sixth consecutive day of practice. Harbaugh said he expects Crabtree back on the practice field soon. Tight end Nate Byham missed his first practice. Harbaugh indicated Byham has an injury that kept him off the field, but he declined to reveal specifics. Receiver Joe Hastings (right leg) and cornerback Curtis Holcomb also did not participate. Running back Jewel Hampton (foot) is on the non-football injury list, while outside linebacker Darius Fleming (knee) is on the physically-unable-to-perform list.Eye on reps: Veteran Leonard Davis, who worked extensively with the second team at right guard through the first six practices, took over at left guard Friday with Iupati's absence. "It's all been positive," Harbaugh said of Davis' short time with the 49ers. "He's working extremely hard to get up to speed. He is right on track and done that. . . . Probably the largest man I've ever stood toe-to-toe, knee-to-knee with is Leonard Davis."
Rookie report: Rookie guard Joe Looney, a fourth-round draft pick from Wake Forest, had his debut on the practice field. He lined up at right guard as a reserve and was seen doing a good job against fellow rookie reserve Tony Jerod-Eddie, a defensive lineman from Texas A&M. "It was awesome to finally get the pads on and compete and be out there with my teammates and my friends," Looney said. He was activated this week from the non-football injury list after being cleared to practice after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a foot fracture.
Punt returns: Rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins was back deep, along with Ginn, Kyle Williams and LaMichael James, catching simulated punts off the Jugs machine while special-teams coach Brad Seely worked at the line of scrimmage with his protection unit. Jenkins never returned punts in college, and he looked the most uncomfortable of the group. Jenkins had trouble judging punts, and muffed three balls.
Notable: Harbaugh gave the group of replacement officials high marks for their work during 49ers practices the past two days."I haven't seen the film from today's practice but after yesterday's practice it was very good," Harbaugh said. "They saw everything I was able to see and more. Today, they were right on it. I think they had another good day today."There was a humorous exchange at one point when an official threw a flag for pass interference against Chris Culliver. Tarell Brown came over from the sideline to ask whom the penalty was against. "You," said the official. "I wasn't in," Brown responded.
Next practice: The 49ers return the practice field Saturday with their first evening workout, scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. None of the 49ers' practices in Santa Clara this summer are open to the general public due to the ongoing stadium construction.
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