49ers camp report: Smith hogs first-team reps

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49ers camp report: Smith hogs first-team reps

Aug. 15, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Practice No. 13
Summary: Quarterback Alex Smith got nearly twice as many practice snaps than rookie Colin Kaepernick during another three-hour padded practice Monday afternoon. During 11-on-11 work, Smith took 40 snaps with the first-team offense, while Kaepernick took just four. Kaepernick took 17 snaps with the second-team offense. The 49ers showed some new looks along the offensive line, as Adam Snyder got first-team snaps at center but he also saw his first action at right guard. Backup left tackle Alex Boone, who has seemingly solidified his spot on the roster, saw his first action at right tackle. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the 49ers will play their best five offensive linemen, and moving players around is part of the process. "It's (also) contingency planning and a natural residue of competition," Roman said. "I don't think we've built the combinations of seven or eight guys to really give us a true picture. I don't think everybody has had a fair opportunity to play together at this point."Offensive Plays of the day: Working against the second-team offense, Smith found receivers Josh Morgan and Ted Ginn Jr. on deep post patterns during a productive three-play period.RELATED: Crabtree in sneakers shows progress
Defensive Play of the day: Linebacker Patrick Willis went high in the air about 20 yards over the middle to intercept a Kaepernick pass intended for newly added tight end Nate Lawrie. Willis brought the ball back down the right sideline for what would've been a touchdown return.
Injury report: CB Carlos Rogers, CB Shawntae Spencer (left hamstring), FS Reggie Smith and RB Anthony Dixon (left ankle) did not practice. . . . WR Chris Hogan (left ankle) and TE Colin Cloherty did not practice. . . . WR Michael Crabtree (left foot) and WR Dominique Zeigler (left knee) are on physically-unable-to-perform list. . . . TE Nate Byham (torn left ACL) is out for the season. WR Dontavia Bogan (torn right ACL) and CB Curtis Holcomb (ruptured left Achilles tendon) have been placed on injured reserve.Returning to work: K David Akers did not practice Sunday at Candlestick Park, and he showed up about 30 minutes into practice Monday. Akers testified early Monday in Texas that he lost 3.7 million investing with Triton Financial chief executive Kurt Barton, who is on trial in federal court on charges he defrauded investors of 50 million through a Ponzi scheme. "I've had a lot of sleepless nights," said Akers, as reported by the Austin Statesman. "As I said, this is my family's future. I said that to Kurt a lot of times. I said, 'Man, I'm trusting in you.'"Play to forget: Everything went wrong for the 49ers' first team offense on one play during practice. First, they could not get the play snaps on time. Then, a couple second after the 40-second play clock expired, Snyder bounced his shotgun snap to Smith. After gathering in the ball, Smith's pass was intercepted by rookie cornerback Chris Culliver.Personnel report: The 49ers waived OLB Thaddeus Gibson. The 49ers originally acquired Gibson after he was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers drafted Gibson in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.Tying up loose ends: Receiver Michael Crabtree is no longer wearing the orthopedic boot on his left foot that he has worn since reporting to training camp with an injury and being placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list. "He's doing everything he can to get right, physically," Roman said. "We're looking forward to when he gets healthy. . . . Our meetings are very interactive, and he's very much a part of those meetings. John Morton, our receivers coach, is very, very thorough. Whether you're injured or hurt, or first team, third team, he always gets the guys prepared. Michael is right where he needs to be right now."MAIOCCO: How Culpepper would fit in with 49ers
Notable: Veteran quarterback Daunte Culpepper worked out for the 49ers on Monday morning, had lunch in the team cafeteria and remained in the South Bay into the evening. The team has yet to make an announcement whether he has been signed. One of the players who caught passes from Culpepper was Lawrie, who spent last year as a teammate of Culpepper's with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL. "That's something I got to do a lot last year in the UFL," Lawrie said. "So it's familiar. He threw it well today. . . . "He's got a ton of experience and a lot of success in this league. The guy can play. He can throw the ball, and that's what it all boils down to."Quotable: "Jim Harbaugh said, 'We're not going there to win, we're going there to get better.' And I think we got better because we saw what we need to work on and we're about to fix that today and this week" -- 49ers TE Delanie Walker on the exhibition opener Friday night against the New Orleans Saints.Next practice: The 49ers are scheduled for another three-hour practice Tuesday, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.

 

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

Under the 49ers’ new regime, the club has already invested more in the free-agent market than a year ago under then-general manager Trent Baalke.

Just a reminder: The free-agent signing period does not officially open until March 9.

The 49ers on Friday reached a contract agreement with veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is penciled into be a starter in the team’s new 4-3 base scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

"As soon as Earl hit the open market, he became a priority for us to sign,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement released Saturday morning. “A man of high character, he represents everything we want to be as a football team. Earl is a tone-setter who plays the game with a tremendous passion and the effort necessary to win in this league. We believe those qualities are contagious and will help to make our team stronger. We look forward to the impact Earl will have on the field, in the locker room and in our community.”

It was the first significant move under Lynch, who also signed a player with NFL experience earlier in the week.

The 49ers also added cornerback K’Waun Williams to a one-year contract. Williams served as the Cleveland Browns’ nickel back for two seasons. The Browns released him before the start of last season and he was unable to play due to an ankle injury.

Mitchell was available to be signed before the start of the new league year because the Miami Dolphins released him last week in a move to save the team $4 million in cap space.

Mitchell took four free-agent visits and after wrapping up his tour with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, he and the 49ers quickly agreed on a four-year, $16 million contract that includes $5.5 million of money in the first year, according to a source.

Last year, Baalke did little to improve the roster for coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers, who finished 5-11 in Jim Tomsula's one season, dropped to 2-14. Just hours after the season concluded, the 49ers announced the firings of Baalke and Kelly.

The only veteran free-agent addition who stepped on the field for the 49ers last season was offensive lineman Zane Beadles. The 49ers signed Beadles in late-March to a three-year, $9.75 million contract with a $1.75 million signing bonus. Beadles had a good season for the 49ers, starting 12 games at left guard, two games at left tackle and the final two games at center.

The 49ers have already shown more willingness to be aggressive under Lynch’s leadership.

Mitchell, 29, is a seven-year veteran who began his NFL career from 2010 to ’13 with the Houston Texans. He was a rookie in Saleh’s final season as assistant linebackers coach in Houston.

Mitchell joins DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial on the 49ers defensive line. The 49ers view Mitchell as a high-energy player who bring good character to the locker room. The signing of Mitchell could be an indication the 49ers are moving on from Glenn Dorsey, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

With 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, the 49ers do not figure to use Mitchell in passing situations. The club must try to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft. Last season, Buckner and Ahmad Brooks shared the team-lead with six sacks apiece. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch both led the way with 6.5 sacks.