San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis -- the first in NFL history to post multiple 13-touchdown seasons -- reported back to the team on time, ending his holdout after missing the team's minicamp.
In doing so, he accrued $270,000 in fines and forfeited a $50,000 workout bonus.
"It was a very easy decision. All you have to do is think about the team," Davis said at the 49ers' new facility here Thursday. "That's what I did, think about my teammates and some of the guys like Frank Gore, who are on their last contract, the last end of their contract, guys who I love and provide for."
Davis has two years remaining on his contract after signing for five years and $36.75 million in 2011. At the time, it was the richest contract in history for a tight end. Now, he remains the league's fourth-highest paid player at the position, averaging $7.35 million. However, Davis' deal was front loaded, and he was due to see a $1.3 million decrease in pay in 2014 and another $350,000 decrease in 2015.
"It's already such an exciting day, the first day of football, where it's the new year," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "And definitely having Vernon there added to that. Everybody sees their friends, their family, they haven't seen them for a month or so, since we've been apart after the minicamp. It's a happening."
San Francisco's other headache of the offseason, linebacker Aldon Smith, is also back with the team. After his lenient sentencing of 11 days on work crew he received last week, there is a chance Smith will not be suspended for his DUI and weapons charges.
That is the case after Ray Rice was given a minimal two-game suspension following his arrest for domestic violence when he allegedly struck his then-fiancee Janay Palmer at an Atlantic City Hotel. Rice pleaded not guilty to the charges in May and has since married Palmer.
But given that Smith's charges were non-violent in nature, and his gun charges were reduced from felonies to misdemeanors, there is a chance his punishment could be even less punitive than Rice's. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last fall he would consider Smith's five-game leave of absence last season into any potential punishment.
On the field, Smith says he has never been better.
"I'm in the best shape I've been in coming into a camp," he said. "My mind's probably in the best spot it's been in. I'm feeling great."
That could be great news for the 49ers, who are hoping Smith can return to his 2012 form when he notched 19.5 sacks in the regular season before a labrum injury slowed him down in the postseason.
Smith also said he would meet with Goodell "as soon as possible" regarding potential discipline, but a time has not yet been set.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh was raving about another Smith
"I've come to learn never to underestimate Justin Smith," Harbaugh said of the team's powerful defensive lineman. "He's strong as ever, looks like to be in great shape, as all our guys did.
Smith confirmed Wednesday he played the majority of last season with a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. Smith had a down year for his standards in 2013, and the shoulder problem could be a reason why.
Smith, 34, did not participate with the team in its first training camp practice Thursday, instead working out on the side field and in the weight room. The team expects Smith to be 100 percent by the start of the regular season.
First-round draft pick, defensive back Jimmy Ward, made his practice debut Thursday after missing the entire offseason program with a foot injury. He made an interception and looked good while learning his new role as a nickel corner.
Cornerback Chris Culliver also practiced in full for the first time in a calendar year after sustaining a torn ACL in the early stages of training camp in 2013. Culliver is a favorite to start opposite of Tramaine Brock and is entering a contract year.
Marcus Lattimore, the spectacular second-year running back who blew out both knees at South Carolina but was still drafted in 2013 by the 49ers, will open camp on the active/non-football injury list. Lattimore practiced with the team during the offseason program, but was slowed by a hamstring injury during voluntary minicamp. Harbaugh describes placement on the list as precautionary, saying it was a combination of both the hamstring and knee injuries he sustained during his final game at South Carolina.
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree had his most intense practice Thursday since the season after he took it easy during minicamp. The team took a cautious approach with Crabtree in May and June after he sustained a torn Achilles' tendon at that point in 2013.
Right tackle Anthony Davis remains out of action after having offseason shoulder surgery. The team plans on having him ready for the start of the regular season.
Jonathan Martin, the eye of the controversial bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins last year, took the majority of first-team reps at right tackle in Davis' absence. Martin had a case of mononucleosis during the offseason program but appears fully healthy and back in shape.