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August 18, 2011
Training camp notes: Jones, Miller pull practice switcheroos

Colin Jones is in the stat book. The 49ers rookie safety got a few turns at wide receiver during Wednesday's practice but came away with no receptions. Today was better. Jones exchanged his white No. 43 jersey (defensive) for a red one (offensive) and came away with two receptions, one from Jeremiah Masoli and another from Josh McCown.


Jones has seen scant repetitions at a stacked safety position during training camp, and the 49ers are envisioning him mainly as a special teams ace. Jim Harbaugh, however, said today that when it comes down to the final cuts, the ability to play multiple positions will be a plus for guys like Jones and fullback Bruce Miller, who lined up at both inside and outside linebacker Wednesday.

"Colin Jones has got quite a bit of speed," Harbaugh said. "We're seeing if there's an opportunity to get him versed on the offensive side of the ball as well." Miller, who was a defensive end in college, said he didn't know whether he'd play any defense Saturday against the Raiders.

Harbaugh was asked about some of the players who have stood out to him during training camp, and he jumped at the opportunity to answer. (Evidently he thinks he's fielded too many quarterback questions). "Thank you for that question. Thank you very much. We talk so little about the rest of the positions on the team," he said.

The first player he mentioned was outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. "He's having a heck of a camp," Harbaugh said. "He played extremely well in the ball game the other night at a very critical position. You talk about critical positions - the ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage and make several plays on balls. ... I'm pleased and encouraged with his progress, and hopefully he'll keep right on coming at the rate he is."

The other players he cited were, in order: Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Donte Whitner, Andy Lee, David Akers, Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Joe Staley and Chilo Rachal. He said that Staley was, "having the best camp, I'd say, of any of the offensive linemen." Of Rachal, he said, "He's heaving a heck of a camp, I'm really pleased with that. And really all of the linemen are playing well individually. I'm pleased with that."

Former Sacramento State quarterback McLeod Bethel Thompson continues to get practice repetitions despite the addition of no. 3 quarterback McCown. One of McBLT's early passes was picked off when inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman leaped high on an over-the-middle throw and came down with the ball. His next pass was on target to wideout Tyler Beiler for a 50-plus yard touchdown. Beiler got past cornerback Tarell Brown on the play. McBLT also threw a touchdown pass to Masoli, who was lined up as an H-back, on a goal-line play.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers was back for the no-pads practice but wasn't sure if he would play Saturday. He has an Achilles strain. Shawntae Spencer, meanwhile, did not practice with a hamstring strain. ... Chris Culliver, Kendall Hunter, Ronald Johnson, Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams took turns returning kicks. ... The quarterbacks wore game-day jerseys today; the rest of the team was in its practice duds.

-- 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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