Maiocco: 49ers' Gore set, Rachal must earn spot

July 14, 2011, 5:11 pm
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All but two of the 49ers' returning starters from a year ago participated in the two weeks of "Camp Alex" -- the offensive workshop sessions at San Jose State that took place in June.Although a lot was made of Michael Crabtree's level of participation, he sat in on seven of the eight classroom sessions. That was the important stuff, as quarterbackhead coachoffensive coordinator Alex Smith installed a sizable portion of the 49ers' base offense.Likewise, I attended seven of the eight days. Each day, I scribbled notes on which players attended and which players were absent during the offense-only get-togethers.Team player director Takeo Spikes cited that scrutiny as one of the reasons he did not like the idea of players getting together for workouts during he owners-imposed lockout."The next thing I hate about it is the fact that some guys legitimately they can't come," Spikes said last week on the 2 Live Stews radio program. "They can't come and so when you let the media come in and tape the workouts the first thing they are going to say is, 'Where is so-and-so?' From that point, on whether it is wrong or right or indifferent, the media guys will paint a picture to the public about a guy who can't legitimately come."He's correct. It was duly noted that running back Frank Gore and right guard Chilo Rachal were the 49ers' only returning starters who did not attend any of the sessions.Gore is reportedly 100 percent after sustaining a hairline fracture of his right hip Nov. 29 against the Arizona Cardinals. Gore chose to remain in Miami and continue to work at Bommarito Performance Systems, rather than disrupt his physical conditioning with cross-country flights.My take?It's not a big deal at all because of the player we're talking about. Gore might be the most intelligent football player I've been around. Smith told me that Gore only has to see a play once to "get it down cold." Former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan once said he would consider hiring Gore as a scout once his playing career was over.It's amazing now to think that there were concerns when he was coming out of college about Gore's ability to digest an NFL playbook because of a learning disability. Of course, it has never been an issue.
Gore and Smith got a chance to learn a good chunk of the offense before the lockout. So with a pretty good grasp of the basics of the 49ers' offense, Gore chose to focus his attention on getting in top physical condition for the opening of training camp.Right guard Chilo Rachal is the only other returning starter who did not attend. Word was that he had a prior commitment for the first week of "Camp Alex." No explanation was readily available for his absence during Week 2.After the lockout, the 49ers will break into full cram mode as the coaches attempt to prepare the team for the start of the regular season, which is less than two months away.Assuming center David Baas re-signs, Rachal is the 2010 starter whose position for the upcoming season is the most tenuous. Adam Snyder, the backup at right guard a year ago, helped Joe Staley organize all the work for the offensive linemen during the player-led workouts. Snyder knows the terminology and line calls as well as anyone right now.My take?The door might open for some good competition at right guard this summer.

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