Maiocco: Observations from Camp Alex

Maiocco: Observations from Camp Alex
June 13, 2011, 6:23 pm

June 13, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com

Today marks the one-week anniversary of the opening of "Camp Alex," the first 49ers' players-organized practice sessions since the 1987 strike.Here are some quick thoughts after being around for the final three days of the work at San Jose State:
--There's not much more that could be expected from unsigned quarterback Alex Smith during this work stoppage. He is living up to expectations in March, April, May and June. And none of it will matter one bit unless he also plays well and leads the 49ers to some victories in September, October, November and December.--As much recognition as Alex Smith got for being the ringleader for the week of work, he was not alone. Offensive lineman Joe Staley got in touch with rookies Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person and invited them to bunk at his place. He has stepped up as the leader on the offensive line.WATCH: More video from Camp Alex
--Adam Snyder, who knows every position on the offensive line, also did his fair share when the linemen broke into a separate groups to go over their protection assignments. Snyder, by the way, looks to be in tremendous physical condition. He has dropped his weight to 300 pounds by declining super-sized eating portions. His weight is lower than it has been since he was a sophomore at Oregon, he said.
--Center David Baas said he wants to re-sign with the 49ers. And he proved it when he took a cross-country flight to participate in the final day. He came into the NFL at the same time as Alex Smith, so there's been no system continuity in his career, either. "Let's be honest," Baas said. "I've had six different playbooks. If I can't learn a playbook quickly, something's wrong. I think I messed up and said one old call out there (Thursday) versus a new call. I'm a smart guy. I'm going to pick it up."--Remember the talk a week after the draft that rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick was going to learn the 49ers' playbook from Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck? "Yeah, that was blown way out of proportion," Kaepernick said. The 49ers' playbook is different from the Stanford playbook. Kaepernick said there was never any talk of getting Luck to teach him the playbook. Luck doesn't even know the 49ers' playbook. If Kaepernick has any questions, he's asking Alex Smith.--And Alex Smith seems to know the playbook very well. His practices were very well organized. And, apparently, so were his hour-long classroom sessions. "Alex is pretty much up there and going through it like the offensive coordinator would," 49ers running back Anthony Dixon said. "It's amazing how much he knows. He know the ins and outs and all the crazy (details) we got. It's great to hear. I'm behind him 100 percent because when your quarterback is out there speaking the offense as fluent as he is, it makes you feel like it's going to be a good year."RELATED: Jim Harbaugh expects July lockout settlement; praises Smith
--Dixon is looking to put himself into position to be more of a contributor after an up-and-down rookie season. "The biggest thing is attitude," Dixon said. "You have to have the right attitude the whole year because it's so long. I feel off last year in that area. This year, I'm going to work on staying mentally focused and the right attitude and mindset."--Rookie running back Kendall Hunter looks quick and explosive. Dixon was happy that the 49ers drafted him because, he said, "They got us more help. Those reps get crazy in camp and in the preseason."
--There's no reason for the defensive players to get together in large groups because there's no teamwork aspects they can practice. Nobody has defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's playbook. That said, Justin Smith is clearly the leader on that side of the ball. He showed up Thursday with first-round pick Aldon Smith tagging along. Isaac Sopoaga, Parys Haralson, Curtis Taylor and Ray McDonald are the other defensive players showing up on a consistent basis.--McDonald, like Alex Smith and David Baas, is a scheduled free agent. I'd be very surprised if all three of those players are not re-signed shortly after the lockout concludes.RELATED: Baas shows commitment after cross country flight
--Yes, I believe Delanie Walker will see more passes come his way as the second tight end. The 49ers have used a lot of two-TE sets the past couple seasons, so Walker's role is not going to change that much. It's just that the 49ers should be better-prepared to exploit mismatches with a more sound offensive philosophy.--One of the goals of last week was to avoid injuries, Alex Smith said. Michael Crabtree took part in the classwork, but he sat out the final three days of practices with foot problems. Second-year receiver Kyle Williams pulled up with a left hamstring strain on the final day. The San Jose State athletic trainers took care of him. He was seen later walking around gingerly. He'll probably take some time off, but he should be OK.
--Speaking of San Jose State . . . The university did a phenomenal job of taking care of the 49ers and the assembled media. Alex Smith asked the director of strength and conditioning Chris Holder to get the players stretched out before practice. Holder gladly obliged. Sports information director Lawrence Fan was equally accommodating and gracious in working with the media members.