The cavalry is slowly working its way back! The San Francisco 49ers are on the field for practice, and the early reports indicate some of the injured players are making their way back for individual work. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are both doing individual work, and it sounds like Michael Crabtree, Tramaine Brock, and Chris Culliver are all in uniform getting some of their own work in.
Defensive linemen Justin Smith & Ray McDonald are both in uniform, going through individual drills. #49ersCamp— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 13, 2014
Good news for #49ers: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver all in pads at start of today's practice.— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) August 13, 2014
#49ers Michael Crabtree in uniform and working with strength coach, so he might practice.— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 13, 2014
Looks like Justin Smith going to practice today for first time of #49ers camp. Also back from injury Ray McDonald, possibly TBrock. No Syder— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 13, 2014
This is not exactly huge news for the team, nor is it even a little bit shocking. These players were all going to work their way back at some point. It was a matter of time, and that time is fast approaching.
That being said, given some of the questions we saw in the run defense against the Baltimore Ravens, getting Justin Smith and Ray McDonald back will still bring a bit of a sigh of relief. I would be surprised if they played this weekend against the Denver Broncos, and honestly, I would be surprised if they played at all this preseason. Maybe a series against San Diego or Houston, but it makes sense to just let them get to 100 percent. They know how the physicality works, so why worry about potential injuries in games that don't matter?
Vic Fangio said earlier on Wednesday that Brock won't be back fully practicing until next week, so I'd imagine he'll stick with some strength and conditioning work, and maybe some individual drills. Michael Crabtree is working back from a hamstring injury. On August 1, Jim Harbaugh had said he would miss a week or two of practice. Thursday will put us at a full two weeks, but this would appear to be the biggest step forward for him during those two weeks. I don't expect to see him play this Sunday, but maybe next Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
LaMichael James has been getting work in taking handoffs and catching passes, so this is a big step forward for him. We don't know what injury has been bothering Vance McDonald the last few days, but it's good to see him back on the practice field following a strong preseason opener.