Maiocco: Competition at 49ers' camp to begin


Maiocco: Competition at 49ers' camp to begin

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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."

Adam Gase offers advice to presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Adam Gase offers advice to presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan

Coach Adam Gase, a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching position two years ago, learned in his first season with the Miami Dolphins it is essential to have a solid staff around him in order to remain focused on calling plays.

Presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has spent the past nine NFL seasons as an offensive coordinator, including the past two with the Atlanta Falcons. His teams have ranked within the top-10 in total offense in six of those seasons. The Falcons play Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers.

Shanahan’s knack for game-planning and play-calling are, perhaps, the biggest reasons the 49ers have tabbed him to become head coach. And he is not likely to delegate those duties when he becomes the man in charge on the sideline.

But Gase, speaking on “The 49ers Insider” podcast, noted the importance of being surrounded by a strong staff in order to continue to run his team’s offense.

“It really comes down to how good your coaching staff is around you and how good your support staff is and how you can manage the game during the game and still be able to call plays,” Gase said.

The Dolphins’ staff includes special-teams coordinator Darren Rizzi and his assistant, Marwan Maalouf, who have studied game management and are responsible for alerting Gase to impending in-game circumstances that require his attention. Rizzi is on the sideline during games, while Maalouf is located in the booth.

“They were staying one step ahead on things,” Gase said.

Gase and Shanahan have never worked together, but Gase said they have known each other for a long time because they are approximately the same age and came into the league around the same time.

“You see guys at the combine and the Senior Bowl," Gase said. "You’re at these functions and you see each other once or twice a year. And it’s always good catching up and getting a chance to talk football.

“We grew up in different styles of systems on offense, but at the end of the day, football is football, and there’s always great conversations to have. He’s really smart. . . (We’ve) crossed up a little bit, where he’s worked with certain guys I’ve worked with and vice versa. And I’ve heard nothing but great things about him, with what he knows football-wise and how he goes about his day-to-day activities and work ethic. All I’ve ever heard are great things about him.”

Shanahan is expected to be included in the 49ers' process of hiring a general manager. The 49ers this week informed four of the remaining eight candidates for the position they would not be included in a second round of interviews. That leaves Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst and Eliot Wolf, Minnesota’s George Paton and Arizona’s Terry McDonough as those who are still under consideration.

When asked what advice he would give Shanahan, were he to officially become 49ers head coach, Gase said, “It’s all about communication.”

He added, “It’s all about that constant dialogue throughout the season. It’s really easy to get lost in doing your job as the head coach. But when you’re all invested in the same thing and you’re all striving to do the same thing and that communication is really rolling, that gives you your best chance to have success.

“It’s never guaranteed because there are so many factors that happen within the season with injuries and schedule and just all those little things you can’t predict, but when you have great communication and you’re all working toward the same thing, that’s going to give you your best chance.”

Jaguars retain offensive coordinator, pass on Chip Kelly

Jaguars retain offensive coordinator, pass on Chip Kelly

It appears the Jaguars have passed on Chip Kelly for a second time this month.

After reportedly not getting their head coaching job, Kelly reportedly interviewed for their offensive coordinator position on Monday.

But two days later, Jacksonville announced that Nathaniel Hackett has been retained as offensive coordinator under head coach Doug Marrone.

Kelly told recently he would take his time to determine his next career move.

“I’m not going to close the door on any opportunity, but I have to be very smart in what I do next,” Kelly said two days after his firing. “I don’t have to take anything, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. I need to make sure that I’m in the right situation.

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll do my due diligence. I’m not going to coach just to coach.”

The 49ers fired Kelly with three years, $18 million remaining in his contract. The 49ers hired Kelly just two weeks after the Philadelphia Eagles fired him. Kelly went 26-21 with the Eagles after leaving his successful program with the Oregon Ducks after the 2012 season.