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August 3, 2011
Kaepernick to start? Not so fast, says Vernon Davis

Colin Kaepernick has a five-practice head start on Alex Smith, and he has looked good in each of them. But don't go handing the rookie the starting job just yet, tight end Vernon Davis said after practice today. "We expect Alex to be the starter," said Davis.


Coaches have said there would be an open competition at every position, including quarterback. Davis? Eh - he didn't think there would be much of a battle. "He's a good player," Davis said of Kaepernick. "He has a lot of potential, a very good future. ... (But) I don't think there's too much competition at the moment."

Davis said there was a good feeling to training camp but that there were still some "key components" missing from the mix, citing Smith and receiver Michael Crabtree. The 49ers expect to get Smith and the other free agents they signed onto the field tomorrow, although the players still must ratify the new CBA for that to occur. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said that Smith, who has been able to observe, but not take part in, practices would be thrown in right away when he is eligible to practice.

"I'm sure it will be a little rough," Roman said of Smith joining mid stream. "But from what I know of him, they'll (the practices) get better every day."

Kaepernick, meanwhile, continues to look good, especially at delivering darts on timing routes across the middle. Two elements we hadn't seen thus far were his deep ball (because there have not been a lot of deep routes run) and his running skills. Today, he connected on a 35-yard go route down the sideline with receiver Lance Long. He also showed is elusiveness on a couple of scrambles during two-minute drills.

Kaepernick and his rookie mates Jeremiah Masoli and McLeod Bethel-Thompson have thrown a few interceptions. Kaepernick has been victimized twice by safety Reggie Smith while rolling out. He said today the defensive placement is something to which he's still adjusting. "Typically in college you don't have a safety running under the drag routes when you roll out," he said.

Ahmad Brooks may have picked a bad time to get nicked. Brooks was one of the team's starting outside linebackers when training camp began. But he got hurt - it does not appear to be serious - on Tuesday, and when that happened first-round pick Aldon Smith stepped into his spot.

Smith has looked very good - even awesome at times - early on in training camp. Today he roughed up the team's running backs during 11-on-11 running drills, including a pancake of 250-pound fullback Moran Norris, who is one of the most powerful players on the team.

Smith today switched his number from 48 to 99, which of course has been worn by Manny Lawson for the last five seasons. The two are similar in height. In power, however, there is no comparison. Once Smith starts chopping away with those massive and long meathooks of his, blockers have a hard time containing him.

Cornerback Phillip Adams had the day off. That gave third-round pick Chris Culliver a chance to work with the first-team defense in nickel packages. With Shawntae Spencer (hamstring) on the sideline, the starting cornerbacks are Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock. Newly signed cornerback Carlos Rogers is expected to step into one of the starting spots when he arrives.

Justin Smith was back at right defensive end after taking a personal day Tuesday. ... Patrick Willis is nicked; Keaton Kristick continues to play in his spot ... Kyle Williams (hamstring) returned to practice Tuesday and has looked good over the last two days. ... Of the undrafted wide receivers, the guy who has stood out (to me, at least) is Bridgewater's Tyler Beiler. The guy has excellent speed.

The 49ers are likely to combine their first two road trips - to Cincinnati and Philadelphia - into one week-long adventure. The plan, which is subject to change, is to drive to the Yorks' home town of Youngstown, Ohio after the Bengals game and to practice there before moving on to Philadelphia.

The 49ers announced six practices that are open to the public. The practices are free, but due to limited space, a ticket is needed. They can be obtained at 49ers.com

August 5 2:30pm
August 6 2:30pm
August 8 2:30pm
August 9 8:45am
August 17 2:30pm
August 18 2:30pm

-- 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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