49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 3, 2010
Veteran courtesy benefits youngsters

A quick note on the players who have gotten the veteran treatment the last couple of days: Yes, players like Takeo Spikes and Michael Lewis are multi-year players who have earned the right to sit out a nutcracker drill or two. But there is also a method to the 49ers' "veteran courtesy" (actually, I think I coined that term) madness.

Spikes, for example, turns 34 this year and he is in the final year of his contract. There's a good chance he won't be back next season. He's been a steady participant in the team's spring practices, so it only makes sense that the 49ers give the younger players at his position - namely Scott McKillop and NaVorro Bowman - more practice time. At this point, McKillop is ahead of Bowman on the depth chart. In fact, McKillop has played next to Patrick Willis as the starting "Ted" linebacker in the last two practices.

The 49ers also must groom several young players at safety, primarily Reggie Smith, Curtis Taylor and Taylor Mays. Smith has been getting all of Lewis' first-team repetitions the last two practices while Mays and Taylor have composed the second-string group. Taylor and Chris Maragos have made up the third-string safety tandem. Again, Lewis doesn't need the repetitions, so the coaching staff is giving them to younger players.

Some of you asked why Nate Clements was held out of one of the team drills this morning. It's because the 49ers saw none of fellow cornerback Will James this spring because he was nursing a fractured pubic bone. (Ouch). Both James and Tarell Brown filled in for Clements with the first-team defense.

Finally, outside linebacker Travis LaBoy also has received the veteran treatment. But that's related to the fact that he sat out the 2009 season with a foot injury and the training staff is taking it easy on that foot. The first three spots at the position are occupied by Parys Haralson, Manny Lawson and Ahmad Brooks. LaBoy and second-year player Diyral Briggs appear to be competing for the same spot. Briggs has practice-squad eligibility; LaBoy does not.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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