Maiocco: Competition at 49ers' camp to begin

August 4, 2011, 1:54 am
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SANTA CLARA -- If everything goes as expected, true competition will begin on the 49ers' practice field Thursday afternoon.The final remaining issues in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement still must be finalized, and the CBA ratified, in order for the new league year to begin Thursday, 1 p.m.That's all quarterback Alex Smith is waiting on before he can begin taking snaps in practice.

In the 49ers' first five days of practices, rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken all of the first-team snaps. He has received lavish praise from coaches and teammates. On Wednesday, he was asked if he feels closer to making his goal of winning the 49ers' starting job a reality."Definitely," Kaepernick said. "Once you get into an offense, and you start picking up on plays and stuff, you get more confidence about what you'd be able to do on the field. There's still a lot more I have to learn and a lot more I have to do to get to that spot. But I think I made pretty good progress the first few days."But Kaepernick's favorite target in the first week of practice has a different opinion. Tight end Vernon Davis said he still believes it's going to be Smith's job.RELATED: Vernon Davis training camp interview
"I'm sure they (the coaches) strongly believe in Alex, along with the rest of my teammates and myself," Davis said. "We expect Alex to be the starter."Davis said he likes Kaepernick, the second-round draft pick from Nevada. But it's clear whom he prefers to break camp as the starting quarterback.
"He's a good player," Davis said. "He has a lot of potential. And he's got a bright future, but the odds are set on Alex at the moment. I don't think there's really too much competition at the moment."Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, addressing the media for the first time this training camp, reiterated what 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has said all along: The better player will start."There's always competition," Roman said. "The best player is going to play. Who's playing the best and who's practicing the best. And Colin has done a great job, thus far at putting things behind him and moving on. He comes in every day and gets better and we're thrilled at how he's progressing."Smith, and all the NFL free agents, were allowed to sign contract on Friday. He has been a participant in all the meetings, and he's been allowed to watch practice. But the newly signed free agents have been prohibited from working out or taking part in practices.Roman said he is eager to see Smith on the field for the first time."You want to see everything: How they set the huddle, how they take the snap, their 3-step drop, their 5-step drop," Roman said. "We're looking forward to seeing it all because we really haven't had time to spend with him until now. It's great he's been able to come out and be part of the team, but we can't wait to him back on the field."The big question is whether free-agent wide receiver Braylon Edwards will join him.RELATED: Braylon Edwards to visit 49ers -- againEdwards, who caught 53 passes for 904 yards and seven touchdowns with the New York Jets last season, paid a visit to the 49ers on Wednesday. He met with coaches and team officials.If Edwards signs a contract with the 49ers, Davis said he would gladly welcome the addition of another threat in the passing game."We can always use weapons," Davis said. "In case a guy goes down the next guy can step in. And if the guy who steps happens to be an outstanding player, that's outstanding. That's great we can use that at anytime. So bringing in a guy like Braylon Edwards would be a big help to us, if he decides to come."The 49ers have placed a priority on acquiring a veteran wide receiver with Michael Crabtree currently on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a foot injury. Crabtree has been at every practice. He has been wearing an orthopedic boot on his left foot.Roman said Crabtree has been paying rapt attention during meetings and expect him to pick up the offense quickly when he is cleared to play."We're thrilled with how engaged he is," Roman said. "He's just doing a great job and he's doing all he can do at this point to get himself ready physically, mentally and emotionally. We look forward for him to heal up, and I really believe he'll be on top of things because he's on top of it right now."

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