49ers Blog and Q&A

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July 15, 2011
In good hands: Rookie Miller learning passing game from Kaepernick

Rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick already has picked up one thing from Alex Smith: hospitality. During the lockout, Smith bought a plane ticket to California for sixth-round draft pick Ronald Johnson and then lent Johnson his wife's car while he was in the area. Kaepernick, meanwhile, has offered his spare bedroom to a fellow rookie.


When seventh-round pick Bruce Miller flew west a week and a half ago, he intended to live in an extended-stay hotel until the lockout ended and he signed his contract. Nonsense, said Kaepernick, and he put Miller up in his Santa Clara apartment.

Kaepernick said he trained with Miller before the combine in February. Back then Miller thought he would play defensive end, his position at Central Florida, at the NFL level or perhaps try his hand at outside linebacker. The 49ers, however, view Miller to as a fullback, and Kaepernick has been impressed with what he's seen from him at that position so far.

The 49ers players' practices and workouts have been skewed toward the passing game, and Miller has been a quick study, Kaepernick said. Friday at San Jose State, Kaepernick threw to Miller and wideout Kevin Jurovich. He said he even had Miller run some routes at tight end so that he could get accustomed to catching more challenging passes. Miller didn't miss a beat.

"He's very mobile - he moves really well," Kaepernick said. "He has very good hands. And that's something you just don't expect to see from a defensive end who's moving to fullback."

The two also share an affinity for movies. After studying Jim Harbaugh's playbook during the afternoon, the two typically take a two-hour mental break courtesy of the DVD player. Kaepernick said they've probably watched 10 films so far. Kaepernick's favorite has been "Se7en," which is no surprise given his new jersey number. Miller's top pick - "Open Season 3."

If you haven't read Tim Kawakami's interview with GM Trent Baalke - thanks for the transcript, TK - give it a looksee. It will set your expectations for the free-agent period. One of Baalke's comments was about the two camps that Smith organized.

"You find out who the leaders are, you find out who the guys are that are going to take charge and organize things and get things done," Baalke told Kawakami of the value of those sessions. "Who's going to get themselves involved when it's not a structured situation."

I was on hand for a number of the workouts and practices and would list the leaders as Alex Smith, Joe Staley and Justin Smith. They did most of the organizing and rallying of the troops, especially Smith, who has been a de facto coach and quarterback the last month.

Adam Snyder also deserves recognition. He's been a regular at San Jose State and, along with Staley, helped instruct the offensive linemen during the two Camp Alexes. Snyder and David Baas are the two linemen most familiar with Harbaugh's system having played in a similar one in 2005.

Jurovich, who played at San Jose and who is from the area, may win the award for attendance. He's been a mainstay at the workouts/practices. The other regulars: Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Parys Haralson, Curtis Taylor, Josh Morgan and Mike Iupati. Johnson, Kaepernick, Mike Person and Aldon Smith have been regulars for the rookies.

I spoke to a source close to Michael Crabtree who said that Crabtree's left foot problem - which kept him from taking part in most of the two player-run camps - is not a serious issue. He said Crabtree was erring on the side of caution and that the wideout would be ready for training camp, which, judging from national reports about the labor negotiations, promises to start on time on July 28.

-- 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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