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June 9, 2011
Free agent Baas "starts" during Thursday's practice

There was a significant sight during today's final practice of the 49ers' offensive minicamp. When the unit lined up in "team" drills at the end of the session, Alex Smith, the first-team quarterback, was taking snaps from David Baas, the first-team center. Both men are free agents, but their presence on Thursday all but announced that they will be back with the 49ers in 2011.


Smith, of course, we already knew about. He organized and operated the four-day camp, which attracted the vast majority of the offensive players on the roster. Smith said that on April 29, the one-day window that coaches were allowed to meet with players during the lockout, he was inundated with materials by the 49ers coaching staff, who obviously were ready for such an opportunity. He said he used those materials, including power-point information, to run this week's minicamp.

Baas, meanwhile, got very high marks as the team's center last year. He's an unrestricted free agent who's been training in Florida this offseason, but who flew west yesterday to be part of today's practice session. Asked if, like Smith, he had a sense the 49ers want him back, Baas said, "Yeah, I have a feeling that they definitely, that they want me back. And like I said, I want to be back. I've got my house out here, a lot of things that I'm still hanging onto. But I'm just preparing and when the time comes, everything will work out."

Baas said he got his first look at the new playbook this morning during the team's classroom session and that he digested it quickly. "Let's be honest," he said. "We've had six different playbooks, six coordinators in six years. If I can't learn a playbook quickly, something's wrong. I think I messed up - said one old call out there (in practice) vs. a new call, and other than that it was fine."

Baas will head back to Florida on Saturday but said he would try to make any other minicamps the 49ers hold. There has been talk of having a similar session at the end of this month.

-- 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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