Killion: Smith grooming Kaepernick for 49ers

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Killion: Smith grooming Kaepernick for 49ers

June 30, 2011

KILLION ARCHIVE49ERS NEWS 49ERSVIDEO
Ann Killion
CSNBayArea.comIts a fascinating exercise in human behavior thats been going on at San Jose State. No matter what some cynical observers think (and that includes you Senior Insider Ratto).The 49ers players, working without paychecks or perks, are trying to get ready for the season. Thats not something we see often in modern sports.Alex Smith is the de facto coach, giving orders and taking charge in one last gasp bid to become the 49ers leader. This is a new, changed Smith. Even Vernon Davis says its a new look for his teammate.VIDEO: Vernon Davis on Chronicle Live
Hes really being a leader out there, Davis told Chronicle Live this week. Thats what Alex shouldve been doing but it takes time for some guys to get to where you need to be.But the most interesting thing is that Smith is also helping Colin Kaepernick the young quarterback who fans are already swooning over get ready to take his job away. Hes doing everything he can to help Kaepernick prepare for the NFL and become the 49ers' starting quarterback.Its not awkward at all, Kaepernick said when I talked to him a few days after the first Camp Alex. Alex is a great guy. Hes said, If I can help you with anything just let me know. Hes been very welcoming and its a good relationship. The situation were in doesnt have to define the relationship we have with each other.Kaepernick, and all the rookies, are in a strange spot. Theyre unable to talk to their new bosses and their first taste of the NFL is coming in do-it-yourself practices at a college facility.MAIOCCO: Smith takes charge at Camp Alex
Its a very odd situation, he said. But at the same time being a rookie dont know what normal situation is. Right now, its not too different from what Im used to coming from college.Kaepernick, finally cleared to play after his mysterious procedure on his left leg (something he declines to talk about), was out there this week. He opted to work with his new teammates rather than go to this weeks rookie symposium in Florida.Thats not surprising if you know Kaepernicks background. Before his senior year in college, the Chicago Cubs offered Kaepernick -- who had been an outstanding high school pitcher -- 30,000 to spend a month throwing bullpen sessions in Arizona so they could check out his arm. Thats a lot of money for a college kid to turn down, but Kaepernick knew he couldnt be away from his teammates.As the quarterback you cant leave your team a month before you go into camp, he said.That same lesson applies now.Coach Jim Harbaugh is following along with the players activities as best he can through the media. Though hed obviously rather have the team participating in organized team activities at the 49ers facility, hes encouraged by what hes seeing. Not just the action but also the motivation behind it.These guys love football and theyre committed to getting in great shape and planning for the future, he said. I think its beneficial for all of them. The players have to organize things, find the field, get the balls, figure out whos doing what, whos responsible for what, what plays are they going to run.I wonder how often this generation of men have had to do that growing up, he added. They were probably over-supervised and over-committed as youngsters.Taking ownership of the team and their own future cant be a bad thing, especially for a group of players who were too often treated like children by Mike Singletary.All the 49ers are starting from scratch, which means that Kaepernick and Smith are dead even when it comes to knowledge of Harbaughs offense.Its a little bit of a good thing in terms of trying to compete for a starting spot, Kaepernick said. But overall its not the best situation because you want to make sure youre doing things the right way, the way the coaches want. But Alex has done a great job translating things to the best of his knowledge.The player with the most insight into Harbaughs system is just up the road at Stanford. Though there were reports that Kaepernick was relying on Andrew Luck for information, Kaepernick said those were blown way out of proportion. He and Luck became friends last summer at the Manning Passing Academy but Luck hasnt been a source of information.We just had a quick conversation, Kaepernick said.For now, Kaepernick is relying on the man he wants to replace.Clearly, the best thing Harbaugh did during his window of contact in early May was give Smith the playbook. Smith has been through six offensive coordinators in his six years with the 49ers, so he knows a little something about installing an offense and trying to translate it. And as a rookie Smith was the beneficiary of a willing mentor in Trent Dilfer so he knows the importance of helping a younger player.Smith may never be the player he was drafted to be. But hes becoming a heck of a coach.And this may end up being Smiths greatest contribution to the 49ers: grooming his replacement.

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Michael Wilhoite has spent his whole five-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

But now the free agent inside linebacker is reportedly switching sides in the NFC West rivalry. Wilhoite is set to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. 

Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. 

Wilhoite, 30, played in all 16 games last season for the 49ers, starting in only six. In 2016 he recorded 55 tackles, 30 less than 2015 in four less games, and forced one fumble. 

After earning a promotion from the 49ers' practice squad in 2012, Wilhoite's career in the Bay Area comes to an end with 268 tackles and three interceptions in 65 games. 

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."