Some familiar faces returned to the practice field Monday morning for the 49ers first full practice since playing the Denver Broncos on Friday night. Tight end Delanie Walker returned from his concussion taking part in all sessions of practice while several others went through position drills.
The defense was certainly thrilled to get their leader, Patrick Willis, back into the mix following an ankle injury that sidelined him since the first day of camp. Tarell Brown also returned and will certainly bring some added competition to the cornerback position battle opposite Nate Clements while Michael Robinson (groin) rejoined the running backs.
“It’s been real frustrating, but at the same time, it’s been good,” Willis said. “The coaches have been really supportive. They haven’t been like, ‘Get back out there. We know you can go.’ They’ve been behind me. They’ve just been like, ‘Get yourself well. We know that when it’s time for you to get back out there, you’re going to give us everything you’ve got.’”
Willis said it was difficult to watch Friday’s game from the sideline. It must have also been difficult on defensive coordinator Greg Manusky not to have his All-Pro middle linebacker available.
“We are just working [Willis] in a little bit here and there just to see how he goes,” Manusky said. “He is doing good. I think he has been in the playbook studying as much as he can. As soon as he is ready to go, he will go.”
That time might come sooner rather than later as Willis expects to participate in 7-on-7 drills this afternoon and see some action when the 49ers go to Napa on Tuesday and Wednesday to practice with the Oakland Raiders.
“I’m hoping so,” Willis said. “I’m leaving it up to [the training staff] right now. If it was up to me, I would try and go the next day after I hurt it. We’re going through a progression right now of just playing it safe and not rushing it back in. It’s training camp, and as much as I’d love to be out there, we have to be smart at the same time.”
Brown is also looking forward to practicing against the Raiders. Seeing Dre’ Bly come up with an interception against Denver gave Brown that much more incentive to get back in the lineup.
“It’s been fueling my fire when anybody makes plays,” Brown said. “Everybody in the secondary is a competitor. We all like to see each other do well, but we all want to make plays.”
Walker was also so eager to get back out on the field that he kept working even after practice was over, putting in some time running the hill head coach Mike Singletary refers to as “Pain.”
“I felt pretty good, but a little winded which is to be expected,” Walker said. “That’s why I was running up the hill. I’m just trying to get myself back together, but I felt great.”
During 1-on-1 drills, the running backs squared off against the linebackers in a pass protection drill. The best hit of the day was delivered by running back Glen Coffee who pancaked Justin Roland.
The best catch of the day had to go to Micheal Spurlock who made an acrobatic grab on a deep crossing route. Shaun Hill’s pass was thrown a little behind Spurlock who reached back and tipped the ball to himself.
Safety Reggie Smith also made a nice pass breakup down the left sideline on a ball intended for tight end Vernon Davis.
Tags: Delanie Walker, Michael Robinson, Patrick Willis, Tarell Brown
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