49ers Blog and Q&A

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

July 31, 2011
Camp notebook: Gore to end holdout on Monday

Frank Gore's holdout will end after four days. The 49ers said today that Gore, who was hoping for a contract extension, plans to report to training camp tomorrow. Gore, however, will have to wait until Tuesday to hit the practice field for the first time since late November. Under the new labor rules, teams have to take a day off of practice within the first six days of training camp. The 49ers will take Monday off.

To this point, Anthony Dixon has been the de facto starting tailback with fourth-round draft pick Kendall Hunter backing him up. Xavier Oman and rookie Seth Smith from New Mexico State also are taking turns running the ball.

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The 49ers' interest in free-agent center Olin Kreutz may have been a wee bit overblown. Kreutz's agent said today that to this point Kreutz has been focused on returning to the Bears. That is not going to happen now. Kreutz informed the team Saturday that he would not return to Chicago.

Kreutz will now begin looking for a new home. The 49ers, meanwhile, have been happy with what they've seen from Adam Snyder, who is playing center for the first time. Snyder dropped weight in the offseason - he is now around 300 pounds - and Harbaugh cited Snyder's quickness in his post-practice press conference.

"Athletically, snapping ability, quickness, leadership," he said when asked what he liked in Snyder. "Right now it's early to tell who our leaders are. But he's been displaying a noticeable level of leadership in the huddle, and so far so good."

One area of improvement must be the center-quarterback exchange. A number of snaps have ended up on the ground so far in training camp, which might be expected when a new center is snapping to rookie quarterbacks, one of whom - Colin Kaepernick - worked mainly out of the shotgun in college. Another factor - the 49ers simply haven't had many practices. "We're probably in late April form," Harbaugh said.

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Several players sat out practice today. Tight end Nate Byham was on crutches after suffering an apparent knee injury Saturday. Kyle Williams and LB Alex Joseph also did not practice. Shawntae Spencer sat out the second half of practice. Trainers were working on his hamstring. Inside linebacker Patrick Willis also went to the sideline later in practice.

Second-year cornerbacks Tramaine Brock and Phillip Adams spent time filling in for Spencer at starting cornerback opposite Tarell Brown. Adams, in fact, intercepted a pass from Jeremiah Masoli. Keaton Kristick stepped in for Willis in the first-team defense. Rookie Konrad Reuland and Colin Cloherty took turns filling in for Byham as the No. 3 tight end.

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Kaepernick's first interception of training camp occurred Saturday on a tipped pass. He had another today when he and receiver Lance Long weren't on the same page and safety Reggie Smith stepped forward for the easy pick. Interceptions also were turned in by Adams and linebacker Scott McKillop who displayed nice hands by corralling a pass from Masoli that was tipped by Hunter.

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Sunday's was the first practice in full pads, although there was no live tackling. That meant that offensive and defensive linemen went against each other in one-on-one pass-rush drills. The highlight was first-round draft pick Aldon Smith, who beat three different offensive linemen.

Smith got past fellow rookie Mike Person with a powerful inside swim move that should be familiar to anyone who watched him at Missouri. He also bull-rushed Alex Boone, knocking the big right tackle back several steps. (Boone got the better of Smith on the rematch). Smith also got around the outside of starting left tackle Joe Staley. In all, a promising full-pads debut for the rookie.

Smith, of course, played defensive end at Missouri and must get used to lining up in a two-point stance. He has been playing right outside linebacker with the second-team defense so far in camp. (He has been paired with Thaddeus Gibson) Smith did say, however, that the 49ers plan to use him as a defensive end in nickel situations.

Notes:

* The team signed outside linebacker Antwan Applewhite and inside linebacker Larry Grant to one-year deals. Both watched practice today.

* One difference in this training camp is that players wear game-day uniforms in every practice. Harbaugh explained that there's more heft to the game-day uniforms and that they're stronger than the practice duds, which players tend to grab onto and which can cause injuries. But most of all the team is dressed like it's Sunday "because you wear game jerseys during games." That is, Harbaugh wants his team to practice like it plays.

Practices also are three hours long to mimic the length of a game. He also tries to keep the period between plays at 40 seconds, just like in a game.

* Newly signed kicker David Akers was on hand Sunday but could not practice. Instead he watched fellow kicker Fabrizio Scaccia go 7-8 during field-goal drills. Scaccia's only miss came from 39 yards out but the snap from Brian Jennings was a bit high.

* There's a fraternity among field goal kickers, and Akers said he had the utmost respect for the man he is replacing, Joe Nedney. "Hopefully I can step up and be half the foot he was," Akers said.

* The players returning punts during Saturday's practice: rookies Ronald Johnson and Chris Culliver, Reggie Smith, Masoli and last year's return man, Ted Ginn.

* During the draft, the 49ers said they planned to use Mike Person at guard and center. On Sunday, Person played both right and left tackle with the backup groups. Person was a left tackle at Montana State.

* Alex Smith can't take the practice field at the 49ers facility. But that doesn't mean he can't practice. Smith was seen in a familiar spot - the San Jose State practice field - Sunday throwing passes to receivers Ronald Johnson and Dominique Zeigler. Another free-agent signee, Tony Wragge, also was on hand. Asked about Smith's practice routine, Harbaugh said, "I wasn't aware he's going anywhere."

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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