49ers Blog and Q&A

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

July 31, 2013
Training camp D6: Practice ends without Willis, Bowman; strong day for Asomugha

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What would happen if both of the 49ers' Pro-Bowl inside linebackers went out with injuries? The team got a glimpse of that scenario during Wednesday's practice after Patrick Willis hurt his right hand, apparently during a pass-blocking drill, and NaVorro Bowman didn't finish the practice with an apparent groin injury. Bowman had missed Tuesday's session.

Backups Michael Wilhoite and Nate Stupar filled in, and Stupar turned in one of several interceptions on the afternoon when he jumped a pass from Colin Kaepernick to Vernon Davis in the red zone. Kaepernick and the offense had been winning the daily battles against the defense, but that was not the case today.

The 49ers' defense is special, of course, because it has two top-caliber inside linebackers that stay on the field for all three downs. Neither injury, however, appears that serious. If Willis suffered a fracture, he'll know what to expect. He's played with broken bones in his hand three times since his junior year in college, including during his rookie season in 2007 and again in 2010.

With Willis and Bowman out, rookie Nick Moody also saw extra action as did newly signed Travis Johnson. The San Jose State product played defensive end in college but is being used at inside linebacker by the 49ers

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The Kaepernick-to-Davis and Kaepernick-to-Anquan Boldin connections had been hot this spring and summer but cooled off today. Boldin caught just two of the six passes that went his way in 11-on-11 and team drills while Davis caught three of eight passes.

July 31, 2013
49ers to work out WR Laurent Robinson

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Thin at receiver, the 49ers are looking at reinforcements.

The team will work out free-agent receiver Laurent Robinson later this week, a league source said. The 49ers had showed interest in Robinson during the 2012 free agency period, but he signed a five-year deal with the Jaguars instead. The Jaguars released him in March after Robinson suffered multiple concussions in 2012.

Robinson, 28, already has worked out for the Dolphins, Jets, Patriots and Lions in recent weeks. The 6-2, 205-pound receiver has played for the Rams, Chargers, Cowboys, and he had his best season - 858 yards and 11 touchdowns - in Dallas in 2011. The 49ers also have worked out another receiver with a concussion history, Austin Collie. Collie remains a free agent.

The team went through its second straight practice Wednesday without receivers A.J. Jenkins, Kassim Osgood and Kyle Williams, all of whom suffered muscle strains in the last week. Another receiver, rookie Quinton Patton, has been practicing with a broken finger on his left hand. Two of their top receivers, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, are returning from major injuries and both currently are on the physically unable to perform list.

-- Matt Barrows

July 31, 2013
Ray McDonald: 49ers plan to platoon more on defense

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Ray McDonald today said the 49ers intend to do more rotating along the defensive line than they have in the previous two seasons when he's played as many as 91 percent of the team's defensive snaps. Attrition appeared to be an issue last year with the unit, which sagged in mid December through the playoffs.

"Yeah, that's the plan," the team's left defensive end said. "The younger guys are getting a lot more reps now. So we expect them to go in there and take a little load off of me and Justin (Smith). ... We do play a lot of snaps, so we've got to come out of there every once in a while."

The 49ers used draft picks on two defensive linemen, second rounder Tank Carradine and fifth rounder Quinton Dial. Both, however, have yet to practice with their new team. Carradine is recovering from ACL surgery; Dial had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his big toe.

Instead, the understudies along the defensive line have been Will Tukuafu at left defensive end and Demarcus Dobbs at right defensive end. Free-agent pickup Glenn Dorsey has been the second-string nose tackle behind Ian Williams. Five defensive linemen typically suit up for a game. Others at the position include Tony Jerod-Eddie, who was on the practice squad a year ago, and rookie Lawrence Okoye, who could land on the practice squad this season.

At outside linebacker, Ahmad Brooks played 92 percent of the 49ers' defensive snaps last year while Aldon Smith played 95 percent. Both dealt with shoulder injuries last year but have more reinforcements this year. Parys Haralson and Dan Skuta have been working with the second-string defense at outside linebacker while Cam Johnson and rookie Corey Lemonier have been sprinkled into the mix as well.

While Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Brooks all sat out the spring with injuries, McDonald was healthy. He said he felt the same from the beginning of the season through the Super bowl, then only took a week off before he resumed his workout regimen. Still, he said he wouldn't mind more breathers this year.

"If there's not a drop off, then I'm all for it," he said. "That's what it's looking like now. They're all good players ..."

- Matt Barrows

July 31, 2013
Chad Hall's advantage? "He gets open," Kaepernick said.

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Chad Hall is winning the war of attrition at the 49ers receiver position. And it's not entirely due to luck.

"It's something I prepare for," the diminutive but quick receiver said today. "I do a lot of injury prevention stuff on my own in the weight room. That's the biggest thing about this game - if you're not healthy and on (the practice field), how are you going to impress coaches, how are you going to help this team?"

That's an issue right now for some of the squad's other wideouts. Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood missed most of Tuesday's practice with various pulls and strains. Another player competing at the position, rookie Quinton Patton, has been unable to catch passes due to a broken finger. Two others, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, are recovering from serious injuries, an Achilles' tear and an ACL tear respectively.

That's given Hall plenty of opportunities both as a slot receiver - where he is most comfortable and most dangerous - and more recently as an outside receiver. Despite his 5-8 frame, Hall has caught more passes in 11-on-11 and team drills than any other wideout aside from starter Anquan Boldin during the first five practices of training camp.

Asked what he likes about Hall, Colin Kaepernick initially had a three-word response: "He gets open." Kaepernick then elaborated: "He's quick, he's shifty, he knows how to read defenses and he finds the soft spot ... He's someone that's easy to throw to. Most of the time he's open and it's by quite a bit. As a quarterback, that's something you love." 

July 31, 2013
Tarell Brown hires a new agent

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Cornerback Tarell Brown, who is seeking to recoup the $2 million he lost in a recent contract oversight, has hired agent Joel Segal to represent him, the Sports Business Journal reported. Brown fired his previous agent, Brian Overstreet, on July 25 after learning that he did not earn a $2 million escalator that required him to train in Santa Clara instead of his offseason home in Texas.

Earlier this week, Jim Harbaugh said he hoped Brown, 28, and the 49ers could find a "solution" to the contract snafu, which he said the 49ers were unaware of as well. "He deserves it. He's earned it," Harbaugh said. "I don't want to see him playing for the minimum when he's a starting, top-end player."

One solution may be to extend Brown's contract. He is one of four 49ers cornerbacks - Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox are the others - scheduled to become free agents at the end of the season. Another, fellow starter Carlos Rogers, is due to count a team-high $8.1 million against the salary cap next year. Cox will be a restricted free agent.

The 49ers, who are expected to cut expensive new deals with Colin Kaepernick, Aldon Smith and others, typically extend contracts before a player is entering the last year of his deal. Before he was fired, Overstreet said he had had no discussions with the 49ers about extending Brown's contract.

Segal is considered one of the more powerful agents in the NFL. His client list includes nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, cornerback Chris Culliver and ex-49er Randy Moss.

-- Matt Barrows

July 30, 2013
Training camp D5: A.J. Jenkins suffers hamstring strain; WR corps thinning

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Three straight padded practices have taken their toll on the 49ers' already-cloudy wide receiver competition. During today's session, both A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood walked over to the side field where players rehabilitate from injuries and did not rejoin the practice session.

Jenkins appeared to pull a hamstring; Osgood was working on his hip. The team began the day without Kyle Williams (hamstring) and, of course, Mario Manningham (ACL) and Michael Crabtree (Achilles'), who are on the physically unable to perform list. Meanwhile, fourth-round pick Quinton Patton can't jump into the void because he is dealing with a broken finger and is unable to catch passes.

The first-string wideouts today were Anquan Boldin, who had another prolific outing, and Marlon Moore, who has been perhaps the most consistent of the large group of receivers competing to be the No. 2 wideout opposite Boldin Sept. 8.

On Sunday, Ricardo Lockette appeared to suffer a hip pointer. He toughed it out through the end of that session and was back today. However, the injury seemed to impede his movement. Moore has continued to practice despite a tweaked ankle. With so many receivers out, jack-of-all trades B.J. Daniels was used at the position at times today.

The good news: There were three big plays down field at the end of practice, all courtesy of Colin Kaepernick, who appears to have his deep ball in tip-top form in late July.

July 30, 2013
Darius Fleming tears ACL; team signs San Jose State's Travis Johnson

Darius Fleming, who missed his rookie season last year with a torn, left ACL, suffered the same injury this year and was waived/injured this morning. He'll have surgery this week and will face the same nine-month recovery he went through last season.

The 49ers responded by signing rookie free agent Travis Johnson from San Jose State. Johnson played outside linebacker defensive end for the Spartans. It remains to be seen where he'll line up for the 49ers. Fleming, an outside linebacker in college, was moved to inside linebacker this offseason.

Johnson left San Jose State as the school's all-time sack leader (32). As a senior, he had 65 tackles -- 21.5 tackles for loss -- and 13 sacks, and he was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Year. Johnson is wearing No. 56 for San Francisco.

Fleming was covering a kickoff Sunday when he switched directions and went down in a heap. He was wearing a brace on the knee after tweaking it in June. Behind starters Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are Michael Wilhoite, rookie Nick Moody and Nate Stupar.

-- Matt Barrows

July 29, 2013
The Road: 49ers to travel more -- a lot more -- than any other team this year

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The 49ers, Seahawks and Chargers usually duke it out for supremacy in this category, but this year the 49ers are the flyaway winners. Or losers, if you worry about how much mileage your team piles up in a season.

During the regular season, the 49ers will travel 32,948 miles to their eight road games, one of which takes place eight time zones away in London. That's more than 6,000 miles - the equivalent of round trip from San Francisco to Halifax, Nova Scotia - beyond the second-most traveled team, the Chargers. The arch rival Seahawks cover a piddly 23,914 miles by comparison.

How far is 32,948 miles? Well, the circumference of planet earth is 24,901 miles. So it's a pretty big distance.

Regular-season travel
1. San Francisco 32,948 miles 
2. San Diego 26,932 
3. Oakland 26,240 
4. Seattle 23,914 20. 
5. Arizona 20,620 21. 
6. Jacksonville 19,686 
7. Minnesota 17,174 
8. Houston 16,716 
9. Denver 16,506 
10. Philadelphia 15,932 
11. Pittsburgh 15,502 
12. Dallas 15,460 
13. Kansas City 15,378 
14. Indianapolis 15,180 
15. Miami 15,150 
16. New Orleans 14,510 
17. Carolina 14,278 
18. Tennessee 14,238 
19. Tampa Bay 14,186 
20. St. Louis 13,616 
21. Washington 13,578 
22. Atlanta 12,952 
23. New England 12,024 
24. New York Giants 10,944 
25. Buffalo 10,572 
26. Baltimore 9,306 
27. Cincinnati 9,020 
28. New York Jets 8,422 
29. Cleveland 7,226 
30. Green Bay 6,190 
31. Chicago 4,898 
32. Detroit 4,202 

Source: NFL Kickoff Information Package

-- Matt Barrows

July 28, 2013
Training camp D4: Spillman starts, but Reid shines at safety

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C.J. Spillman "started" at free safety during today's training-camp practice, but it was another safety who stood out. Practicing with the second-team defense, first-round pick Eric Reid had an interception during team drills and also nicely broke up a pass to Anquan Boldin later in the session.

On the interception, Reid read the eyes of quarterback Scott Tolzien, who was scrambling out of the pocket. Reid had an excellent break on the ball, caught it well in front of the would-be receiver and would have been gone for a touchdown in a game situation. On the pass break up, he came from behind Boldin and used his long arm to swat away a Colin Kaepernick pass.

Craig Dahl had been working with the first-string defense at free safety. Whether it was a coincidence or not, Dahl had a rough practice on Saturday and was with Reid on the second team today. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on Friday said that the free-safety competition is a four-man battle among Dahl, Reid, Trenton Robinson and Spillman.

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As documented in the previous blog, the 49ers are starting to get thin at wide receiver. The one who stood out today is perhaps the least known - Chuck Jacobs. The undrafted rookie out of Utah State is only 178 pounds, but he is cat-quick and he had several catches today.

July 28, 2013
LB Fleming re-injures knee; injury bug also hits WR corps

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Linebacker Darius Fleming, who sat out his rookie season last year with a torn ACL, appeared to injure the same knee today while covering a kickoff late in practice. Fleming tried to switch directions and went down in a heap.

A testament to how popular he is in the locker room - most of the squad huddled around him while trainers tended to his knee. Defensive lineman Ian Williams, a teammate of Fleming's at Notre Dame, sat next to a dejected Fleming for the rest of practice.

Fleming had been moved from outside to inside linebacker for the start of this season. He tweaked the same knee in June and was wearing a brace on it when he went down today. The other backup inside linebackers include Michael Wilhoite, Nate Stupar and draft pick Nick Moody.

Meanwhile, injuries continue to mount at wide receiver. Kyle Williams (hamstring) did not practice today while Ricardo Lockette seemed to suffer a right hip injury midway through practice. Lockette tried to return but was obviously hampered and threw his helmet down in frustration late in the session.

Rookie Quinton Patton has been practicing with a soft cast on his left hand, which is protecting two fingers. Patton is wearing a blue, non-contact jersey and because of that has not had any throws go in his direction so far in camp. Another receiver, Marlon Moore, seemed to sprain his ankle but toughed it out through practice.

-- Matt Barrows

July 28, 2013
Harbaugh: Tarell Brown deserves his full salary

Jim Harbaugh today said he hoped Tarell Brown and the 49ers could find a "solution" to the salary snafu that cost the 49ers' starting cornerback $2 million this season.

"He deserves it. He's earned it," Harbaugh said. "I don't want to see him playing for the minimum when he's a starting, top-end player."

Brown's 2013 base salary dropped from $2.95 million to $925,000 this season because he did not earn an escalator that required him to work out in Santa Clara. Instead, Brown, 28, spent the voluntary portions of the 49ers' offseason program near his home in Texas. Brown said he fired his agent because of the oversight. The cornerback attended a mandatory minicamp in June and appears to be in excellent shape to begin training camp.

Brown has been a two-year starter for the 49ers and is entering the final year of his contract. Asked if a solution might involve extending Brown's deal, Harbaugh didn't rule it out as a possibility. "I don't know that it's any one particular thing but I think we'll explore all those options and find a solution," he said. "It's there. ...We're very motivated to do that."

He said that like Brown's agent, the 49ers were unaware that Brown would lose the money. Said Harbaugh: "I just think it was an unfortunate situation. I feel confident knowing that the people involved - had they known anything, then they would have brought that to attention. ... Unfortunately, nobody caught it. That led to a real torpedo that nobody wanted to see happen."

-- Matt Barrows

July 27, 2013
Training camp D3: Vernon Davis goes deep ... again and again

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It wasn't exactly a complaint. Or a lament. It probably is best classified as a notation. But during last year's regular season, tight end Vernon Davis pointed out that after years of establishing a rapport with Alex Smith, he now had to start over again with Colin Kaepernick.

Davis was in the midst of a six-game stretch in which he caught just six passes for 61 yards and no touchdowns. He wasn't happy. But he and Kaepernick started to get hot in the playoffs - 12 catches, 254 yards, one touchdown in three games - and that chemistry has continued this offseason.

In the first three practices of training camp, Davis has been by far the offense's top big-play threat, something that was underscored in today's session, the first padded practice of the year. Davis caught several deep passes from Kaepernick, including one on a rope in front of safety Craig Dahl. The prettiest pass - and a very good sign for Kaepernick - came on on a deep, touch pass down the left sideline that dropped in over safety C.J. Spillman and into Davis' hands.

On the other hand ... it's early, but there have been no obvious risers in the wide receiver competition to play opposite Anquan Boldin this season. Kyle Williams has been the best of the bunch, and he and Kaepernick hooked up for a long touchdown - he beat rookie safety Eric Reid - during 7-on-7 drills. In fact, he and Boldin were the "starters" when the first-team offense initially lined up in 7-on-7 drills. But Williams seemed to tweak a muscle and was held out of practice from that point forth. Williams later said he's fine, but that's the question mark with him - can he stay healthy for a whole season?

July 27, 2013
Fangio: Locker room normal after Brooks-Divens incident

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Many of you have been asking how Ahmad Brooks and Lamar Divens possibly could coexist in the 49ers locker room this summer and perhaps beyond. After all, it's only been a month and a half since Brooks clocked Divens over the head with a beer bottle, sending him to the hospital for stitches, according to court records. In return Divens has demanded $1 million from Brooks, which Brooks has refused to pay, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney.

One observer, however, says there have been no flare ups since the June 8 altercation. "I have not seen any indication that it has dragged inside the building at all," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "And if I hadn't known that something happened, I wouldn't have known something happened by the way that people are acting."

Fangio not only runs the 49ers' defense, he is the de facto position coach for the outside linebackers. That would give him a lot of time with Brooks in particular.

Brooks is a starter while Divens is a journeyman nose tackle who is currently behind Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey on the depth chart. Which means the situation is likely to resolve itself when the 49ers begin paring down their roster in a month or so.

Is there any precedent for two 49ers fighting and then coexisting inside the locker room? Yes, but it wasn't nearly as ugly -- and as public -- as the one that went down last month.

In 2002, a locker-room fistfight broke out between tailback Kevan Barlow and fullback Fred Beasley after Barlow, so the story goes, accused Beasley of blocking harder for Beasley's buddy, tailback Garrison Hearst, than he did Barlow. The 49ers attempted to defuse that situation by moving Barlow's locker across the locker room from where the rest of the running backs and fullbacks had their space. During most of Barlow's career with the 49ers, his locker room was with the offensive linemen's.

There were no more fistfights. But it always was an uneasy relationship between the two players. Both remained with the 49ers through the 2005 season when Beasley retired and Barlow was supplanted by some guy named Frank Gore.

Neither Divens nor Brooks has been made available to the media since the start of training camp.

-- Matt Barrows

July 26, 2013
Training camp D2: Marlon Moore reels in highlight of the afternoon

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Before practices began this week, Jim Harbaugh made sure Marlon Moore was added to the informal list of receivers competing for the No. 2 role opposite Anquan Boldin this year. On Friday, Moore turned in the best - only? - highlight of an otherwise routine training-camp practice.

Toward the end of the session, the team was working on its red-zone offense. Quarterback Colt McCoy lofted a pass for Moore, who was covered tightly by cornerback Perrish Cox. Both went up for the ball, but it was Moore who came down with it for the touchdown.

Moore, a free-agent signee from Miami, definitely is a darkhorse candidate to win a starting role, and he might not even make the team. But he has an array of skills and made another nice impression on Harbaugh on Friday.

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Given the receiver competition, I kept track of the targets and receptions every time the 49ers were in an 11-on-11 situation. The results:

July 26, 2013
1-on-1: Fangio envisions more practices vs. Kaepernick and first-team offense

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When the 49ers looked at their schedule a year ago, they saw only one quarterback - some guy named Tim Tebow* - capable of running the read-option, and because of that they didn't prepare much for it on defense.

This year is a little different.

The 49ers will face Seattle's Russell Wilson Sept. 15, Tennessee's Jake Locker Oct. 20, Carolina's Cam Newton Nov. 10, Washington's Robert Griffin III Nov. 25 and Wilson again Dec. 8. All are capable of gobbling up yards on the ground, and the 49ers defense is doing more read-option preparation accordingly.

Luckily, the 49ers have an excellent way to warm up. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he envisioned a lot more scenarios this season in which the 49ers No. 1 defense will be pitted against the team's No. 1 offense and quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"We didn't waste our time working on it against our own offense with our first-team defense," Fangio said of the 2012 season. " This year we will, obviously. So it does help having an offense that knows how to run it."

July 26, 2013
Divens to rejoin practice seven weeks after alleged assault

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For the first time since their well-publicized and thoroughly investigated June 8 fracas, Lamar Divens and Ahmad Brooks will share the same practice field. The 49ers today removed Divens, a backup nose tackle, from the non-football injury list, clearing him to join practice.

Divens' non-football injury presumably was the two- to three-inch gash on the side of his head which, according to court records, was opened when Brooks struck him three times with a Heineken bottle. The Santa Clara District Attorney investigated the incident for more than a month, put one of its top assistant district attorney's on the case and ultimately concluded that a jury would not convict Brooks for assault and dropped the case.

The 49ers had a mandatory minicamp in mid June. Divens, 27, was absent for the first day. He arrived on the second day but did not participate. He landed on the team's practice squad last year and is one of several nose tackles on the summer roster. The others include Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey and undrafted rookie Mike Purcell.

One of the reasons why the DA did not pursue charges against Brooks is because Divens allegedly demanded $1 million from Brooks as recompense. When Brooks refused, Divens, who had said he didn't want to press charges, changed his mind and said he wanted to pursue the case. Divens and Brooks haven't practiced together since the incident, at least not in a formal session.

Brooks may have escaped criminal charges, but the league or the 49ers still can discipline him, including with a suspension. This year, the NFL has seemed willing to allow teams to handle their own punishment. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke both declined to discuss the case this week. Brooks was in his familiar starting role at left outside linebacker to open training camp.

-- Matt Barrows

July 26, 2013
Training camp D1: Jenkins, Dahl and Ian Williams "start" for 49ers

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One of the biggest things that jumped out during the 49ers' initial training camp Thursday was which players were part of the starting 22 the first time the team lined up in an 11-on-11 situation. These faces could change as training camp goes on, but these were the starters Thursday:

A.J. Jenkins, No. 2 WR. I've written all offseason how I thought Jenkins would get the best chance to win the receiver role opposite Anquan Boldin, and he's getting the first shot this summer. Jenkins had a forgettable opening day of training camp. He had a nifty sliding catch on the sideline early, but you had to wonder whether it would have been a routine catch had he stayed on his feet. He had two more targets in quick succession from Kaepernick - he bobbled and dropped one and was well-covered on the next.

Garrett Celek, TE. Sure, second-round pick Vance McDonald was the talk of the spring sessions. But the 49ers aren't ready to give him the role of No. 2 tight end just yet. Instead, it went to second-year player Celek, whose college experience at Michigan State was the opposite of McDonald's at Rice in that Celek did plenty of blocking but hardly ever caught a pass. That is, McDonald must master blocking - especially run-blocking - before he elevates in the pecking order. Unlike the spring session, the 49ers practiced a lot of run plays Thursday.

July 25, 2013
We will rock you? Kaepernick not worried about opponents' tactics this season

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One of the storylines during the NFL offseason has been how defenses -- like that of the 49ers' Week 1 opponent, Green Bay -- will adjust to the proliferation of read-option quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick. And one of the possible solutions is to hit the quarterback whether he keeps the football or not.

That's the tactic the Ravens took in the Super Bowl. Whether it was effective or not is a bit fuzzy. Sure, the Ravens won the game. But the 49ers racked up 468 yards of offense while Kaepernick threw for 302 yards and ran for another 62 yards.

Kaepernick today didn't seem all that concerned about being roughed up this season. If defenses use that as a strategy, he said, the 49ers offense will adjust. "It's a chess match," he said.

Despite all the times he exited the pocket last year, Kaepernick mostly avoided big hits. The most violent jolt he's ever absorbed? It was delivered by then-Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon when Kaepernick was a sophomore at Nevada.

"I was on the run," he said. "He got a good shot on my shoulders and head. Best lick I've taken." Did he return to the game? "Knock on wood, I haven't been knocked out yet," Kaepernick said with a smile.

July 25, 2013
Healthy again: 49ers activate WR Williams, place Divens on injury list

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Receiver Kyle Williams, who seemed tantalizingly close to returning to practice last month after an ACL tear in November, will be back for the start of training camp. The 49ers today removed both Williams and linebacker Darius Fleming from the physically unable to perform list, meaning they are poised to join their teammates for today's initial practice of training camp.

Meanwhile, nose tackle Lamar Divens was placed on the non-football injury list. Divens allegedly was involved in an incident with teammate Ahmad Brooks in June in which Divens was struck three times in the head with a bottle and suffered a two- to three-inch gash. Divens did not take part in a three-day minicamp later that month. The 49ers would not say whether Divens' appearance on the injury list was related to the June incident.

Fleming last month injured the same knee in which he suffered an ACL tear a year earlier. That injury cost him his rookie season. Fleming has since been moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker where he will compete against Michael Wilhoite, Nick Moody and others for a backup role to Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

Williams, meanwhile, enters the vast competition to be the receiver who lines up opposite Anquan Boldin in Week 1. Like last year, the 49ers are likely to go with a rotation of receivers at that spot. Even that rotation, however, is up in the air with A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton, Ricardo Lockette and Marlon Moore among those battling for playing time. Williams' injury occurred Nov. 25, meaning he is just eight months removed from surgery.

Williams' and Flemings' activation means the team will start training camp with eight injured players. Four are rookies: defensive lineman Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, running back Marcus Lattimore and tackle Luke Marquardt. Four are veterans: running back Kendall Hunter, Divens and receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham.

-- Matt Barrows

July 24, 2013
Whitner: Brooks is "tremendously sorry" for beer bottle incident

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Donte Whitner today said that Ahmad Brooks is "tremendously sorry" for the June 8 beer bottle incident that left teammate Lamar Divens with a cut on his head and led to a month-long investigation in San Jose.

Whitner, one of the leaders in the 49ers locker room, said he pulled Brooks aside last month. His message: "It's just the choices that you make when you're outside here," Whitner said Wednesday. "The bad choice that he made, he's going to have to pay for that. We don't know what it's going to be yet. ... A lot of eyes are on us now. Even more than last year and the year before. He has to make good decisions, hang out with the right people and make good choices. And he's going to do that from here on out."

The Santa Clara County District Attorney ultimately decided not to charge Brooks, but he still faces possible discipline by the league or the team. Whitner said he didn't know how Brooks might be disciplined. Neither Brooks nor Divens was made available to the media today, the first day that veterans reported for training camp.

Whitner, meanwhile, served as the team's ambassador on a recent media tour of England and London where the 49ers will take on the Jaguars in October. Two Vikings veterans, Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, also made the trip and Whitner said both "wished that they were part of a program that we (the 49ers) were."

"You actually get a feel for where you are and where the San Francisco 49ers are in the National Football League right now when you talk to those guys," Whitner said.

July 24, 2013
Want to play CB for the 49ers? Only 6-footers need apply

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Marcus Cooper started only one game at Rutgers last year and he has only four interceptions in five seasons at the school. So why did the 49ers use the last of their 11 draft picks in April on him?

"Hopefully it's my size, my physicality at the corner," Cooper said. "I'm just going to bring that every day, and hopefully it's something that (coaches) want to see."

Indeed, when Cooper was brought out of the locker room on Tuesday, I thought he was linebacker Nicky Moody. At 6-2, 192, Cooper is bigger than what has long been the traditional mold for cornerbacks, and he fits a pattern for the 49ers. They've pursued big bodies at the position in recent years, including Sean Smith - he ultimately signed with the Chiefs - and Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency this year.

"He's the only guy I have to look up to," Cooper quipped when asked about Asomugha, who is listed at 6-2, 210 pounds.

Meanwhile, there have been no talks about a contract extension with starting cornerback Tarell Bown, who is one of several 49ers cornerbacks playing in the final year of his contract. Brown has rounded into an excellent cover cornerback. But at 5-10, 190 pounds, he does not seem to fit the profile for what the 49ers are looking for in the future. He also could be pricey to re-sign.

Perhaps the 49ers are emulating the NFC-rival Seahawks, who have filled defensive backfield with big, powerful cornerbacks - and a hard-hitting strong safety - who jam, grab and otherwise disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage.

The only 49ers cornerbacks under contract for next season - Chris Culliver, Carlos Rogers and Cooper - all are 6-0 or taller. Another big-bodied player, Perrish Cox, will be a restricted free agent. The 49ers already play a significant amount of press coverage. Will that increase in the future?

During the draft, general manager Trent Baalke was asked how the 49ers will address the proliferation of speedy slot receivers such as Percy Harvin and Tavon Austin in the division. "... It takes scheme sometimes to take care of different schemes that other people are throwing at you," Baalke said. "No different than it does when they're playing against us and our personnel. This is a matchup league. It's a personnel matchup league. And you either do it with personnel, or you do it with scheme. Those are the two ways you take care of it."

- Matt Barrows

July 23, 2013
Lattimore looking forward to the day he gets knocked down

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Marcus Lattimore says he'll know he's fully recovered from his knee injury when a linebacker, lineman, safety - anyone - knocks him to the ground.

"Once you put on the pads and you take a hit and you fall on your knee and you get up - that's when you know you're ready to go," Lattimore, the 49ers' fourth-round draft pick, said today. "I mean, you can do all the agility drills, training drills, everything you want. But until you get hit, that's when you know."

Which means that it might be a year before Lattimore is certain he is 100 percent again.

While the 49ers rookie class has gone through full contact practices in pads the last two days, Lattimore was placed on the non-football injury list earlier this week. He is expected to remain on that list to begin the regular season, which would give the 49ers the option of activating him late in the season or shutting him down altogether.

Lattimore suffered a gruesome knee injury in October in which he tore multiple ligaments and dislocated the knee cap. He went through a grueling rehabilitation process to get ready for the draft. After the draft, Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers would slow that recovery down to make sure the knee fully heals. Lattimore said he understood and appreciated the 49ers' caution.

At the same time, he said he's made definite progress in the three months he's been with San Francisco. "Honestly, I feel the improvement every day," he said. "You get the running down, then you get agility. Then it translates to football after that. I honestly feel better every day."

***********************
Another rookie, tight end Vance McDonald, got a chance to meet the man he will try to replace this season, Delanie Walker, at the rookie symposium in Los Angeles earlier this month. McDonald's greeting after shaking hands with Walker: "Hey, you're not a bad blocker."

That wasn't always the case. Walker, who was signed by Tennessee in free agency, was a wide receiver when the 49ers drafted him in 2006, and he's had to work hard to gain size and strength and become one of the better blocking tight ends - especially downfield - in the league.

McDonald said that will serve as good lesson for him. He did little in-line blocking at Rice and was split wide as a receiver one season. McDonald acknowledges that his ability to block will determine how much he sees the field this season. "You don't ever want to have one role," he said. " ... for me, I'd like to be known as being 50-50: You put him out wide, he's good out wide. You put him inside and run block, he's good inside."

- Matt Barrows

July 23, 2013
Live chat replay: Discussing 49ers training camp with Matt Barrows

The 49ers' defense of the NFC championship begins with the official opening of training camp on Thursday. In anticipation of that significant day, Matt Barrows is hosting a live chat beginning at 11 a.m. today.



July 22, 2013
Harbaugh no-comments his way through touchy questions on Wright, Brooks

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The curious case of Eric Wright came to a sudden end Monday when the cornerback failed his physical with the 49ers, rendering null and void a trade with Tampa Bay three days earlier. The 49ers had agreed to send a late-round draft pick in 2014 to the Buccaneers for the troubled cornerback pending a physical. The trade was conditional, meaning that if Wright, 27, did not make the 53-man squad the 49ers would not owe the Buccaneers anything.

The failed physical sent Wright back to the Buccaneers, who promptly released him. Wright is now a free agent.

The sequence re-raised suspicions that the 49ers were not aware of Wright's recent suspicion-of-DUI arrest in Los Angeles before agreeing to the trade. Wright was pulled over on July 12, about a year after another DUI arrest in Los Angeles. He was never charged in the 2012 case and has not yet been charged in this one, either. News of Wright's July 12 arrest was not made public until after the trade was made.

Jim Harbaugh was characteristically closed-lipped on the matter on Monday. Asked if he knew about Wright's DUI arrest, the 49ers coach referred questions to general manager Trent Baalke. "He's got a clearer understanding of the specific transaction," Harbaugh said. "So I'll defer to him on that."

Baalke, through the team's public relations director, declined comment.

When minicamp ended last month, Harbaugh warned players about appearing in police blotters during the seven weeks before training camp. Wright's acquisition seemed to undermine that message.

July 22, 2013
Harbaugh says doctors, Crabtree pleased with Achilles' progress

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Jim Harbaugh today said team doctors told him that Michael Crabtree's surgically repaired Achilles' tendon "looks great," and the 49ers' top receiver remains on track to return at some point this season. Crabtree tore the tendon May 21 and had surgery the next day.

Harbaugh said the 49ers will place Crabtree on the physically unable to perform list, which will give San Francisco the option of activating him during the season. After the first six games of the season, the 49ers will have a three-week window to take Crabtree off the list. They then have three more weeks to activate him or shut him down altogether.

"Wouldn't categorize it as 'ahead of schedule' because he's just starting right now to start moving on it," Harbaugh said. "It's been just healing so far. But it looks great. And that's in the words of the doctors, so, again optimistic there."

With Crabtree out at least through the middle of November, wide receiver is the 49ers' biggest battle of training camp. Veteran Anquan Boldin will start at one spot. The other spot is up for grabs among a group of inexperienced players. Harbaugh today said A.J. Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore top the list of candidates.

It's also likely that there may be a committee approach to the No. 2 spot, which was the case last year. "I really feel like they're making a lot of progress," Harbaugh said of that group. "I feel good about where that stands right now."

Meanwhile, both Kyle Williams (ACL) and Mario Manningham (ACL) will begin training camp on the PUP list. Harbaugh declined to discuss their progress, though Williams seemed poised to return to practice during the June minicamp.

Harbaugh noted that Crabtree has been in the area rehabilitating since his injury and did not return home to Dallas this offseason.

-- Matt Barrows

July 22, 2013
CB Wright fails physical; trade with Buccaneers is voided

Cornerback Eric Wright failed his physical with the 49ers today, meaning that the recent trade with the Buccaneers is null and void, according to a report by NFL Network. The 49ers had agreed to trade a late-round pick in 2014 to Tampa Bay for the troubled cornerback pending a physical. The trade was conditional, meaning that if Wright, 27, did not make the 53-man squad the 49ers would not owe the Buccaneers anything.

The sequence promises to re-raise suspicions that the 49ers were not aware of Wright's recent suspicion-of-DUI arrest in Los Angeles before agreeing to the trade. Wright was pulled over on July 12, about a year after another DUI arrest in Los Angeles. He was never charged in the 2012 case and has not yet been charged in this one, either.

The 49ers on Friday said they were aware of the arrest before agreeing to the trade. Jim Harbaugh today deferred all questions about Wright to Baalke, who declined to speak to reporters.

The 49ers now have an open roster spot as they prepare for their first training-camp practice Thursday. They have eight cornerbacks on the roster, four of whom are scheduled for free agency in March.

Wright is a San Francisco native. The Buccaneers released him today.

-- Matt Barrows

July 22, 2013
90 Niners: Defensive review of the 49ers' training-camp roster

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The 49ers' first practice of training camp is Thursday. We ran down every offensive player on the roster Sunday; here are their defensive counterparts:

Defensive line
Justin Smith. The veteran signed a contract extension last month that virtually guarantees he'll end his career in San Francisco. Smith, 33, suffered his first-ever major injury last year but should be at full strength this season. The question for Smith and the rest of the linemen is whether they'll get more relief during the regular season with Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial and others waiting in the wings. The 49ers' defensive starters typically play well over 90 percent of the defensive snaps, which add up when the season extends into February.

Glenn Dorsey. He'll step into the nose-tackle role Isaac Sopoaga - now with the Eagles - filled in recent years. Dorsey won't be asked to pressure the quarterback. Instead, he'll have to occupy blockers, clog the middle on the run game and keep inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman clean. Something to keep an eye on: Sopoaga came off the field in nickel situations and hardly played at all against some pass-happy teams like Green Bay. Will the 49ers have a secondary role for Dorsey to augment his snaps?

Ray McDonald. McDonald was considered a huge injury risk during the 2007 draft. He's started every game but one for the 49ers in the last two seasons and elevated his game when Smith was hurt late last year. The chemistry between him and left outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks is good, but it's not to the level of their counterparts Smith and Aldon Smith on the right side.

Ian Williams. Williams only had a few snaps in the last two years, but he evidently made the most of them. The 49ers gave the former undrafted lineman a contract extension this offseason that came with a $1 million bonus. Williams is a smart, high-effort player. Still, the extension was curious given Dorsey's later signing and the fact that the 49ers don't use nose tackles - Williams' natural position - all that heavily.

Will Tukuafu. One of several undrafted defenisve linemen on the team, Tukuafu has excellent strength and has carved a role for himself by being able to play special teams and be a backup fullback. He'll begin training camp behind McDonald on the left side but has more competition for his roster spot than he's had in previous years.

Demarcus Dobbs. Another undrafted player, Dobbs roared onto the scene in 2011 when he was unblockable in the preseason. However, he hasn't had much impact since and, like Tukuafu, he is in a fight for the roster spot he's occupied the last two years. Dobbs primarily has backed up Justin Smith on the right side.

July 21, 2013
90 Niners: Every-player review of the 49ers' training camp roster

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So long shells, touch tackles and voluntary practices. Training camp begins this week for the 49ers, who for the second straight summer will look to build on a season that ended in agonizing fashion in the postseason. To get you ready, here's an every-player synopsis of the training camp roster, beginning with the offense. The first practice is Thursday.

Quarterbacks:
Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers quarterback is exciting, dangerous to defenses and unlike any other quarterback - ever? - in the NFL. Ironically, he must work on becoming more like his staid predecessor, Alex Smith, this season in minimizing mistakes and taking the 49ers on methodical drives, especially when they have a lead.

Colt McCoy. The 49ers signed McCoy because they feel they could win games with him if Kaepernick, who will be exposed to hits at times this season, couldn't play. Look for the offense to be Alex Smith-like if McCoy ever takes the helm. He was solid this spring.

Scott Tolzien. We'll give him the incumbent's edge over B.J. Daniels for the No. 3 spot for now, but Tolzien has a fight on his hands. Tolzien is a coach's favorite because he works, acts and processes information like a coach. And that gives him value as a No. 3 quarterback.

B.J. Daniels. He occupies one roster spot but offers the 49ers three different players - a quarterback, a tailback and a punt returner. That gives the seventh-round pick true value on cut-down day. Still, Daniels must show he can move the offense during the preseason. He'll likely split second-half duties with Tolzien just as Tolzien and Josh Johnson did a year ago.

Running backs:
Frank Gore. The 49ers did a much better job of regulating Gore's snaps last season and Gore - finally - has accepted that he is more valuable to the team in the long term if he gives up a few carries to his backups. Look for another 1,200-yard season from the 49ers' workhorse.

July 20, 2013
49ers place eight players, including two wide receivers, on injury lists

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At least nine 49ers who sat out spring practices with injuries will continue to watch from the sideline when training camp begins next week. That includes four rookies - defensive lineman Tank Carradine, defensive lineman Quinton Dial, running back Marcus Lattimore and tackle Luke Marquardt, who were placed on the active/non-football injury list. The 49ers' first practice is scheduled for Thursday.

There are also four veterans - linebacker Darius Fleming, running back Kendall Hunter, receiver Mario Manningham and receiver Kyle Williams. Each was placed on the active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Receiver Michael Crabtree has not yet reported for training camp. When he does, he also is expected to be placed on PUP or injured reserve.

Hunter (Achilles') and Williams (ACL) were injured during the same game on Nov. 25. Each appeared to be close to returning to full strength last month and Williams even participated in some practice drills. Fleming injured his knee in the spring, but it was not considered a serious injury. Manningham (ACL) is expected to miss a big chunk - perhaps all - of the preseason and is questionable for the start of the regular season. Crabtree (Achilles') will miss at least the first three months of the regular season.

The good news is that many of the veterans who sat out spring practices appear to be at full strength. That list includes Justin Smith (arm), Aldon Smith (shoulder), Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), Mike Iupati (shoulder), Joe Staley (knee) and Frank Gore (preservation).

July 20, 2013
Kaepernick king of summer jersey sales

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American summer attire: flip flops, shorts and - judging from recent sales - a red and gold no. 7 jersey with "Kaepernick" stenciled across the back.

Yes, Colin Kaepernick's 49ers jersey was the NFL's top seller from April 1 through June 30, according to a report in Yahoo! Sports, which cited numbers from NFLShop.com and retailer Fanatics.com. Kaepernick, 25, has made just 10 NFL starts, but he took his team to the cusp of a Super Bowl championship in February and will begin his first full season as the 49ers starter this season.

The Turlock product has wide-ranging appeal, and it seems he's been everywhere this offseason. Earlier this week, he won an ESPY award, edging out NFC West counterpart Russell Wilson for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year. He's also appeared at the Country Music Awards, shot and ad for Jaguar (he was compensated with a new sports car) and took pictures with First Lady Michelle Obama. He appeared without his jersey - or any other article of clothing - on ESPN's "Body Issue" earlier this month.

Kaepernick beat Wilson and another popular, young quarterback, Washington's Robert Griffin III, in summer jersey sales. The 49ers will play the Wilson and the Seahawks in Weeks 2 and 14. They visit Griffin's Redskins in Week 12.

Top summer jersey sales
1. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers, no. 7
2. Russell Wilson, Seahawks, no. 3
3. Robert Griffin III, Redskins, no. 10
4. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, no. 28
5. Peyton Manning, Broncos, no. 18

-- Matt Barrows

July 19, 2013
49ers knew about Wright's arrest before trading for him

The 49ers say they weren't snookered by the Buccaneers in trading for cornerback Eric Wright, who was arrested last week on suspicion of DUI, a misdemeanor. The arrest wasn't made public until after news of the trade broke this afternoon, leading to speculation that the Buccaneers unloaded a troublesome player onto the unwitting 49ers.

A team source said that Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik told his 49ers counterpart, Trent Baalke, about the arrest before the trade was consummated. The 49ers officially acknowledged the transaction this afternoon, and Baalke's quote signals that he knew about Wright's recent incident.

"We are pleased to add Eric to our team," Baalke said in a statement. "As an organization, we have done our due diligence and anticipate Eric working hard to contribute to the 49ers."

Wright, 27, was pulled over at 5:15 p.m. last Friday on the corner of Crenshaw and 30th street in Los Angeles, the LAPD said. His attorney, Jeremy Lessem, noted that Wright has not been charged and that it may be weeks until the L.A. City Attorney's office makes a ruling on the case. Wright was given a chemical test to determine his blood-alcohol limit. The results of that test are not public.

Lessem also noted that Wright was arrested nearly a year ago in Los Angeles for felony DUI but never was charged. He said a breath-test taken at that time registered 0.0. Wright is tentatively scheduled to have his initial court date on Aug. 7, a day before the 49ers host the Broncos in the team's exhibition season opener. Wright does not have to be present on that day.

The 49ers traded a conditional late-round draft pick in 2014 for Wright. That means that if Wright does not make the roster, the team won't owe the Buccaneers anything. The transaction won't be completed until Wright passes a physical next week. The 49ers currently have 10 picks in the upcoming draft.

-- Matt Barrows

July 19, 2013
49ers continue to load up at cornerback, trade for troubled Eric Wright

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The 49ers today agreed to trade a conditional, late-round draft pick in 2014 to Tampa Bay for cornerback Eric Wright, a player they briefly had pursued when Wright was a free-agent last year. Wright, 27, is the ninth cornerback on the roster and one of several veterans at the position. However, five of those cornerbacks, including Wright, are scheduled to be free agents after this season, and it is an area of concern for the team moving forward.

Wright, who is a San Francisco native, signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal with the Buccaneers last year. Tampa Bay almost immediately regretted the acquisition.

Wright was arrested for felony DUI last July in Los Angeles after being involved in an accident with another vehicle that resulted in an injury to the other driver. He was never charged in the case. Last week, however, he was arrested on misdemeanor charges in Los Angeles, according to the LAPD, and posted a $5,000 bond. The Tampa Bay Times reported that he was arrested on suspicion of DUI, a misdemeanor.

Wright is now one of four 49ers to be arrested for DUI in the last year and a half. The others are Aldon Smith, Demarcus Dobbs and Al Netter. The timing of the Wright trade raises questions, especially since Jim Harbaugh warned players late last month to stay out of the police blotters during the seven weeks before training camp begins. Rookies reported for camp today; veterans will report Wednesday.

Wright must pass a physical next week before the trade can be finalized. Because it's a conditional trade, if he didn't make the 49ers' regular-season roster, they would not owe the Buccaneers a draft pick.

Wright also was suspended for four games during the season for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. He tested positive for Adderall, he said at the time. (You may have heard that Harbaugh recently tweaked the arch-rival Seahawks for their rash of allegedly Adderall-related suspendions). Wright's contract recently was renegotiated, and the 49ers are on the hook for $1.5 million this season.

In 10 games last year, Wright had 37 tackles and returned his one interception 60 yards for a touchdown. He'll join a group of veterans that includes starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, No. 3 cornerback Chris Culliver as well as veterans Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox. Asomugha, Brown, Brock, Cox* and Wright are scheduled to be free agents in March while Rogers is due to count a team-high $8.1 million against the 49ers' salary cap next season.

The team also has two rookies, seventh-round pick Marcus Cooper and undrafted free agent Darryl Morris. The 49ers waived another undrafted rookie, Lowell Rose, this morning. The 49ers had 10 draft picks, not including expected compensatory picks, in 2014 before today's trade.

To read more about the 49ers' cornerback conundrum in 2014, click here.

*Cox is scheduled to be a restricted free agent.

-- Matt Barrows

July 19, 2013
Goodell will review Brooks' case; is he waiting for 49ers to act first?

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Ahmad Brooks will not face criminal charges in relation to an altercation with teammate Lamar Divens on June 8, but that doesn't necessarily mean he will escape punishment altogether. The NFL today confirmed to The Bee that Brooks' case will be reviewed under its conduct policy, which gives Commissioner Roger Goodell the authority to dispense discipline.

That policy, sharpened in 2007, holds NFL employees to a higher standard than used by the criminal justice system. It states that the absence of criminal charges or a conviction does not allow someone to avoid league discipline, which can include fines, suspension or banishment from the league. The policy takes into account previous offenses.

In 2008, when Brooks was with the Bengals, he was arrested and accused of punching a woman in the eye in Kentucky. He was charged with fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor that carries up to a year in prison. Later that year, Brooks said the case had been expunged, and the Boone County (Ky) District Court has no record of it. The league also reserves the right to consider behavior that occurred before a player joined the NFL. Brooks had frequent run-ins at the University of Virginia and eventually was dismissed from the team.

On Thursday, CBS Sports' Mike Freeman wrote a story noting that Goodell has been far more quiet this offseason than he was during a similarly ugly stretch for the NFL in 2007 when the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal and other unsavory stories dominated the headlines. Freeman writes that's likely because the teams are acting quickly and imposing their own discipline.

Indeed, the Patriots released tight end Aaron Hernandez immediately after his June arrest in relation to the murder of Odin Lloyd. Meanwhile, the Broncos quickly punished two front-office executives this month after they were charged with driving drunk.

Will the 49ers act on Brooks, the team's starter at left outside linebacker? On Thursday, the team issued a statement: "The 49ers organization is aware that the District Attorney of Santa Clara County has closed this matter. As an organization, we look forward to moving on from this situation and will have no further comment."

The Santa Clara County District Attorney on Thursday decided not to pursue charges against Brooks, who initially had been accused by Divens of beating Divens three times across the head with a beer bottle and then threatening to retrieve a gun. The district attorney concluded that the case was too muddled - including by Divens' demands of $1 million from Brooks - to obtain a conviction and dropped the case.

-- Matt Barrows

July 18, 2013
No charges to be filed against 49ers' Ahmad Brooks

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The Santa Clara County District Attorney has decided not to pursue charges against 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who had been accused of beating teammate Lamar Divens repeatedly over the head with a Heineken bottle last month. New evidence, including an earlier rough-housing incident between the two men and Divens' demands for $1 million from Brooks, helped convince District Attorney Jeff Rosen that he would not be able to get a conviction.

Nearly three weeks ago, the district attorney's office sought - and obtained - a warrant for felony assault with great bodily injury, which carries a maximum sentence of four years. There was conflict in the district attorney's office on whether the warrant should be served, however, and it was decided that more information was needed. In a rare move involving this type of case, assistant district attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery, one of the office's most senior members, was put in charge of the case.

That investigation turned up new evidence, including a May incident at a barbecue at Brooks' home in which Divens pushed Brooks to the ground, causing a two-inch cut on Brooks' leg. According to a district attorney memo that explains why Brooks will not be charged, the two teammates had been "wrestling" and "shadow boxing" throughout the afternoon. No one called the police, Brooks tended to his wound and Divens remained at the party.

"Cases are not always what they first appear," Rosen said in a press release. "The value to a thorough and deliberate investigation is a more complete picture of the facts. We cannot prosecute this case because we cannot prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 jurors. To file criminal charges when we do not believe we will obtain a conviction is wrong."

To read the memorandum on why the district attorney's office will not pursue charges against Ahmad Brooks, click here.

According to court records filed when the original warrant was obtained earlier this month, Brooks, Divens and two defensive teammates - undrafted rookies Lawrence Okoye and Mike Purcell - had been drinking in San Jose on June 8 when they returned to Brooks' home in Brooks' truck. After Divens, who had been driving, jokingly pretended to throw Brooks' keys into the yard, Brooks hit him repeatedly over the head with a beer bottle and punched him in the face, opening a gash that needed to be closed with stitches.

When police questioned Divens after the incident, he told them Brooks also threatened to retrieve a gun, according to court records. The district attorney memo said no other witnesses could corroborate that Brooks mentioned a gun.

Brooks, 29, was described in the police report found in the court records as "very drunk." Officers who responded said Divens, 27, did not show any outward signs of being intoxicated. Divens had been serving as the group's driver that night.

The district attorney memo released today said that when Divens was feigning to throw the keys away he was moving his hand back and forth, and Brooks said he thought Divens was going to strike him, as was the case in the May encounter.

July 18, 2013
Battle stations! Full cornerback cupboard may be bare next season

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The 49ers have a deep and experienced group of cornerbacks heading into the 2013 season. You have to wonder, however, how much that pool will have evaporated at this time next year. Four of the veterans currently on the roster -- Tarell Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox (RFA) -- are scheduled to become free agents in March. Another, Carlos Rogers, will have a team-high salary-cap figure of $8.1 million next season.

The only sure-thing at cornerback for the 2014 season is Chris Culliver, and he's coming off the worst game of his career. (Psst: I'm talking about the Super Bowl). Culliver mostly has been a pleasant surprise in two seasons in San Francisco, but he's benefited from an excellent supporting cast and he has not yet proven that he can hold down a starting job.

All of which is to say that the 49ers will face big questions at the position over the next year and they'll have to start answering some of them when cut-down day arrives a month and a half from now. The team kept five cornerbacks on the 53-man roster last season. They'll head into training camp with nine. They are:

Nnamdi Asomugha. He's smart, he's motivated and he'll be allowed to play -- mostly -- the type of press coverage at which he excelled in Oakland. He wasn't able to showcase those skills in the non-contact spring practices. He wasn't tested deep, either. Whether Asomugha, 32, still has the wheels to keep pace with 24-year-old wide receivers is one of the more intriguing questions of the summer. If the answer is yes, he'll be more difficult to re-sign in March.

July 18, 2013
Harbaugh's list: Coach warned players about appearing in summer police blotters

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Before the 49ers broke for a seven-week vacation last month, coach Jim Harbaugh held up a sign in front of the team. On it were a list of players who had run afoul of the law during that seven-week period in the past. The message: Be on your best behavior.

"You don't really want to be a guy that's on that list, especially for a team that has high goals and aspirations like the San Francisco 49ers," safety Donte Whitner said this week. "... You don't want to be a team distraction. You don't want to be a distraction to yourself. That's why we've been so under-the-radar."

Whitner was being interviewed by the Tuesday Morning Football podcast in the United Kingdom where he and other players are doing a media tour in advance of the NFL games there this season. The 49ers play the host Jaguars in London on Oct. 27. He was answering a question about why the 49ers have managed to stay under the radar in recent years.

Whether the 49ers have accomplished that is highly debatable. Linebacker Aldon Smith alone has been in the police blotters three times since January 2012 and three different 49ers have been arrested for driving under the influence in that span. One of them, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, ran off the road and crashed his car in December.

Meanwhile, Smith's counterpart at outside linebacker, Ahmad Brooks, is under investigation for allegedly assaulting teammate Lamar Divens with a beer bottle in June. No charges have been filed, but the Santa Clara District Attorney's office continues to gather information related to the case. The incident also is being reviewed by Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has the authority to punish Brooks, including with a suspension.

-- Matt Barrows

July 16, 2013
Battle stations! Scott Tolzien must fight -- again -- to keep his job

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The contrast could not have been more stark in last year's preseason finale. One of the contenders to be the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback, Josh Johnson, threw two touchdowns and looked like a starter-caliber NFL quarterback in finishing with 125 yards through the air and another 50 on the ground, despite splitting the second-half snaps.

The other quarterback, Scott Tolzien, was a couple of notches below ordinary, even against subpar competition. He underthrew receivers, had one attempt intercepted and finished with a 15.6 passer rating.

Yet when it came time to cut one of those players, Jim Harbaugh and co. said goodbye to Johnson and kept Tolzien. It was further evidence of just how much the 49ers coaches love Tolzien. And it was a lesson that more goes into roster decisions -- especially when it comes to the No. 3 quarterback -- than what happens on the field in exhibition games.

Tolzien has another fight on his hands this year, this time from rookie B.J. Daniels, and it should be one of the more interesting battles of training camp. Like Johnson last season, Daniels is far more mobile than Tolzien and has a stronger arm. In fact, Daniels looked a lot like Colin Kaepernick -- and even more like Seattle's Russell Wilson, who is similarly diminutive -- at times this spring in extending plays and gaining yards with his feet.

July 15, 2013
Battle stations! Will Michael Crabtree's replacement please step up?

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The 49ers' training-camp battles were mostly shrug-worthy until May 21. That's when Michael Crabtree, the team's best wideout since Terrell Owens skipped town in 2004, suffered a complete tear of his right Achilles' tendon, an injury that will cost him most, in not all, of the 2013 season. With that injury, wide receiver suddenly became the focus of the 49ers' offseason.

Anquan Boldin alleviated some of the concern this spring by looking as if he'd been playing with Colin Kaepernick for 10 years rather than a few weeks. But the player who will line up most often opposite Boldin remains unknown. It's clear the contenders have talent. Also clear is that none has much experience. The coaching staff is tailoring a competition that will give each of the following players plenty of practice snaps and plenty of opportunities. Their hope is that at least one or two rises above the rest.

1. A.J. Jenkins. He's listed first on this list largely because he's likely to be given the best opportunity to succeed this summer. Jenkins is a former first-round pick, and both Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman had high praise for him in June. It was similar to the encouraging words Harbaugh heaped onto Alex Smith in 2011 and Michael Crabtree in 2012. Every year Harbaugh seems to pick out a player who has not achieved his full potential and tries to prop up his confidence with praise. The strategy appears to work. Smith led his team to the NFC Championship game in 2011 and Crabtree had his best season ever last year.

Jenkins, meanwhile, spent the offseason working on his biggest weakness in 2012 -- his strength. It was hard to tell whether he made strides during the non-contact practices in the spring, but Jenkins is noticeably more confidant than he was a year ago when he seemed to end up on the ground on every third play. Training camp, and especially the preseason, will be the true test for Jenkins, who must prove he can operate in spaces far tighter and more violent than those he experienced at Illinois. If he succeeds, his quickness and fluidity would be a nice complement to Boldin's aggressive style. It's also possible that Jenkins will operate out of the slot where he would have more space with which to work.

Ricardo Lockette. If you went into the lab and created the prototypical wide receiver, you would come out with Lockette. He's the fastest 49er, he's big and muscular, he's sharp and he appears to have the desire to be an NFL starter. Oh, and he's also best friends with Kaepernick. (The two spent the offseason training together and they are housemates in Santa Clara). Lockette's track speed would provide a nice one-two punch with Boldin and would force defenses to keep a safety deep like they did last season when Randy Moss was on the field. That, in turn, would benefit Frank Gore and every other offensive player. The mystery with Lockette is, well, why he's still a mystery. He's 27 years old and has never been close to a dominant receiver, even at tiny Fort Valley State. Is he a late bloomer or a perennial underachiever? We'll find out over the next two months. After all, he's never received the opportunity he's getting now.

Read more on Lockette: Roster hopeful is learning from Colin Kaepernick.

July 12, 2013
49ers still have their eye on Austin Collie

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The 49ers remain interested in former Colt Austin Collie, but they are unlikely to make a move on the free-agent wide receiver until after training camp begins, a source close to the situation said this week. One of the team's top priorities this summer will be to see if any of their young and inexperienced wideouts perform well enough to warrant significant snaps when the regular season begins. If none elevates his game, an inexpensive veteran like Collie would be of interest.

Collie, who played at Oak Ridge High outside of Sacramento, worked out for coaches and scouts on June 13. He has recovered from a torn pattela tendon that cost him most of the 2012 season in Indianapolis, and he has passed all the neurological tests associated with concussions. Collie has suffered three of them since entering the NFL in 2009. One of the 49ers team doctors, Daniel Garza, is a specialist at Stanford Hospital in concussions and head injuries.

Collie, who played at BYU, has been training in Utah this offseason. He also has had a workout with the Patriots.

Wide receiver, meanwhile, became the 49ers' biggest offseason question mark when Michael Crabtree suffered a complete tear of his right Achilles' heel on May 21. The team's leading receiver a year ago - and the first 49ers wideout to surpass 1,000 receiving yards since Terrell Owens in 2003 - Crabtree will miss at least the first three months of the season.

Veteran Anquan Boldin is entrenched at one starting spot. The 49ers are looking for someone at the other spot. The candidates include A.J. Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, rookie Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore. Also, Kyle Williams promises to be back at practice after recovering from an ACL tear in late November.

The 49ers might add depth at wide receiver before training camp. They signed Brandon Carswell last month only to see him immediately go down with an ACL injury. The team has an open roster spot and will have more once Crabtree, rookie running back Marcus Lattimore (knee) and others are placed on the Physically Unable to Perform or non-football injury lists.

**UPDATE** As predicted, the team claimed receiver Charly Martin off of waivers Friday. The 6-1, 212-pound Martin has spent time with the Chargers, Panthers, Jaguars and, most recently, the Seahawks before entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2009.

-- Matt Barrows

July 10, 2013
49ers to add UC Davis punter, kickoff specialist

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The 49ers will bring in some training-camp kicking relief for both Andy Lee and Phil Dawson. The team has agreed to terms with UC Davis punter Colton Schmidt, who averaged 44.5 yards per punt last season, a school record.

The Bakersfield native had a tryout with the 49ers last month and impressed coaches, including special teams coach Brad Seely. Schmidt also can handle kickoffs, his agent said Wednesday, and he likely will help with both kicking and punting duties this summer. Schmidt had 41 touchbacks on kickoffs and punts combined last season.

Schmidt and the rest of the 49ers' rookie class will report for training camp July 19. The rest of the team will report five days later. The 49ers had an open roster spot to sign Schmidt. They also created another one by cutting longsnapper/tight end Kyle Nelson, who was with them in training camp last year.

***************************
Starting safety Donte Whitner is part of an NFL contingent that will travel to London next week in advance of the NFL games that will be played there this season. Whitner and the 49ers will play the host Jaguars on October 27.

The other players are Jared Allen and Kevin Williams of the Vikings, Uche Nwaneri of the Jaguars and Ramon Foster of the Steelers. On Tuesday the group will meet with the media at Wembley Stadium as well as visit radio studios. On Wednesday they will be in Birmingham taking part in a 'Chalk Talk' stage show for fans.

Vernon Davis was the 49ers' ambassador in 2010 before the team hosted the Broncos.

-- Matt Barrows

July 9, 2013
It might get loud: Seahawks fans to attempt decibel record vs. 49ers

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Do Seahawks fans despise the 49ers as much as followers of Galatasaray Spor Kulub hate Fenerbahce Spor Kulub? We'll find out Sept. 15.

That's when the 49ers visit CenturyLink Field and when the fans there hope to set a Guinness world record for the loudest crowd. The current record holders, the fans of Galatasary, a Turkish soccer team, achieved a din of 131.76 decibels during a match against rival Fenerbahce on March 18, 2011.

According to The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a Seahawks fan group called Volume12 has applied to Guinness to break the record and figures that the 49ers game will bring fans to full roar. The 49ers players, especially the offensive linemen, long have acknowledged that Seattle is their loudest and toughest venue, and they suffered the worst loss of the Jim Harbaugh era, 42-13, there on their most recent visit. In fact, the 49ers have lost seven of their last 10 contests in Seattle.

The good news: The 49ers can take solace that despite all the noise from those blasted Galatasary backers in 2011, visiting Fenerbahce triumphed 2-1.

-- Matt Barrows

July 8, 2013
Ahmad Brooks could face discipline even if prosecutors don't charge him

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While the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office remains unclear on how to pursue a case against Ahmad Brooks, the 49ers linebacker could be disciplined by the league even if the case is dropped by prosecutors.

In 2007 the NFL expanded its personal conduct policy, stating that NFL employees are held to a higher standard and that the absence of criminal charges or being found not guilty does not allow someone to avoid league discipline, which can include fines, suspension or banishment from the league. The district attorney's office is investigating a June 8 incident in which Brooks allegedly struck teammate Lamar Divens three times with a beer bottle and punched him in the head. Brooks also allegedly threatened to retrieve a gun, according to witness accounts found in court records.

Here's the relevant passages from the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy:

* The specifics of the disciplinary response will be based on the nature of the
incident, the actual or threatened risk to the participant and others, any prior or additional
misconduct (whether or not criminal charges were filed), and other relevant factors.

* Unless the available facts clearly indicate egregious circumstances, significant bodily harm or
risk to third parties, or an immediate and substantial risk to the integrity and reputation of the
NFL, a first offense generally will not result in discipline until there has been a disposition of the
proceeding (or until the investigation is complete in the case of noncriminal misconduct).

* With respect to repeat offenders, the Commissioner may impose discipline on an enhanced
and/or expedited basis. In such cases, the timing and nature of the discipline will be determined
by the Commissioner based on several factors including but not limited to: the severity of the
initial charge and later charge; the facts underlying the later charge; the length of time between
the initial offense and later charge; and the player or employee's compliance with counseling
and other programs. Following a full investigation and/or resolution of the proceedings, the
Commissioner will review the matter and make any appropriate adjustments.

Brooks, 29, has at least one prior incident that would fall under the personal conduct policy, a 2008 arrest in which he was accused of punching a woman in the eye in Kentucky. He was charged with fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor that carries up to a year in prison. Later that year, Brooks said the case had been expunged, and the Boone County (Ky) District Court has no record of it. The league also reserves the right to consider behavior that occurred before a player joined the NFL. Brooks had frequent run-ins at the University of Virginia and eventually was dismissed from the team.

Meanwhile, the timing of the incident also may be a concern for Brooks. There is added scrutiny on player conduct in the wake of Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's arrest in the slaying of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found near Hernandez's home in Massachusetts. Hernandez also is being investigated in relation to double murder that occurred in July 2012 in Boston.

-- Matt Barrows

July 5, 2013
And then there were none: Eric Reid signs with 49ers

The 49ers and their first-round draft pick, Eric Reid, struck a deal on a rookie contract Friday, meaning all 11 of the team's draft picks are signed well in advance of training camp. Reid, a safety from LSU, and the rest of the 49ers' rookies will report to camp July 19.

Reid broke the news on Twitter. "Beyond blessed! Officially a 49ER!" he wrote.

The 49ers traded up 13 spots in the first round to select Reid, an athletic and hard-hitting safety, with the No. 18 pick. San Francisco dealt the Nos. 31 and 74 selections to the Cowboys in order to get Reid. The team lost one of its starting safeties, Dashon Goldon, to Tampa Bay in free agency, and the hope is that Reid -- who has a similar skill set to Goldson -- will be able to step into Goldson's former role.

The 49ers also acquired Craig Dahl, formerly a starter at safety with the Rams, in free agency. Dahl, Reid and Donte Whitner rotated with the first-string defense during the spring practice sessions that wrapped up last month. Reid, however, is expected to start opposite Whitner at some point this season. All of the safeties taken in the first round in the last three years have started all 16 regular season games for their respective teams.

-- Matt Barrows

July 3, 2013
DA's office "close" to decision on 49ers' Ahmad Brooks

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The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office says it is "close" to deciding whether to file assault charges against 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks but that the investigation has not yet been completed.

"The case is not done," said assistant district attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery on Wednesday. "And that's where we are."

Sinunu-Towery said a preliminary investigation was made following an incident between Brooks and teammate Lamar Divens on June 8. She said there was conflict in the District Attorney's office over whether an arrest warrant should be issued -- Divens decided not to press charges -- and it was determined that additional information was needed.

Some of that additional information, including medical statements, remained outstanding when the complaint against Brooks was sent to a judge last week. Sinunu-Towery said "an internal error" in the district attorney's office caused the case to be filed prematurely with the court.

According to those court documents, Brooks, Divens and two defensive teammates on the 49ers - Lawrence Okoye and Mike Purcell - had been drinking in San Jose on June 8 when they returned to Brooks' home in Brooks' truck. After Divens, who had been driving, initially did not give Brooks the keys to the truck, Brooks hit him repeatedly over the head with a beer bottle, opening a gash that needed to be closed with stitches. Brooks also threatened to retrieve a gun from his home, according to court records.

Brooks, 29, was described in the police report as "very drunk." Officers who responded reported that Divens, 27, did not show any outward signs of being intoxicated. Divens had been serving as the group's driver that night. Divens initially told police he would press charges but five days later changed his mind, telling police that doing so would be "bad for both of their careers."

The 49ers issued the following statement this morning: "We are aware of the situation involving Ahmad Brooks. Out of respect for the legal process, the club will have no further comment at this time."

Brooks, who was charged with assault in 2008, presumably faces discipline under an NFL policy that gives Commissioner Roger Goodell discretion in matters involving personal conduct. According to that policy, "discipline may take the form of fines, suspension, or banishment from the League." It's not yet known whether Goodell is reviewing Brooks' case.

Brooks has started every game for the 49ers for the last two years at left outside linebacker, and he had two pivotal plays at the end of the NFC Championship in Atlanta to preserve the win for the 49ers. He batted down a Matt Ryan pass on the Falcons' final drive and also had a legal hit on the Atlanta quarterback, causing a shoulder injury.

The 49ers have considerably more depth at outside linebacker than they did a year ago. Veteran Parys Haralson is healthy again after tearing his triceps tendon in August. The team also used a third-round draft pick on Corey Lemonier, who will compete with holdover Cam Johnson and free-agent acquisition Dan Skuta for playing time. 2012 draft pick Darius Fleming has been moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker.

-- Matt Barrows

July 3, 2013
DA unsure whether to charge 49ers Brooks for assaulting teammate

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Authorities are weighing whether to an issue an arrest warrant for Ahmad Brooks after the 49ers starting outside linebacker allegedly struck his teammate over the head with a beer bottle three times last month, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of June 8 after Brooks, 49ers nose tackle Lamar Divens and two other teammates -- identified in a police report as rookie defensive linemen Lawrence Okoye and Mike Purcell -- had been drinking in San Jose.

According to a court report obtained by The Mercury News, the group returned to Brooks' home. After Divens initially refused to give a "very drunk" Brooks his car keys, Brooks hit him repeatedly over the head with a Heineken bottle, opening a three-inch gash that needed to be closed with stitches.

Police took an initial report but Divens, five days later, declined to press charges, telling police that doing so would be "bad for both of their careers." The District Attorney's office had been poised to obtain a felony arrest warrant last week, but the warrant was put on hold and no decision has been made on whether the case will be pursued.

Divens, meanwhile, was absent for the first day of the 49ers minicamp, which began June 11. He arrived the next day but did not participate. Brooks did not take part due to what defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said was a shoulder injury. Brooks was rehabilitating with several 49ers veteran players during the minicamp. Multiple calls to Brooks' agent last month were not returned.

Violence among NFL players is nothing new, especially during the offseason. Last year, for instance, the 49ers' other starting linebacker, Aldon Smith, was stabbed at a party he threw at his home on June 30.

There is added scrutiny this year, however, in the wake of Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's arrest in the slaying of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found near Hernandez's home in Massachusetts. Hernandez also is being investigated in relation to double murder that occurred in July 2012 in Boston. Brooks, meanwhile, allegedly shouted to Divens, "Do I need to get my (expletive) gun at the house?" before striking him with the bottle, according to a police report filed with the case.

July 2, 2013
Achilles' heal: Crabtree back in the gym this week

Michael Crabtree will return to the gym this week. So says a Tweet the 49ers receiver sent out Sunday:

Of course, Crabtree's workout routine won't include him squatting 450 pounds or running gassers until he pukes. He'll be eased back into the weight room, probably starting off on a stationary bike or an elliptical machine to maintain his conditioning. That would fit the time line for recovering from an Achilles' heel tear. Crabtree had surgery to repair the tear on May 22. This week is about six weeks from that procedure.

I've spoken to several orthopedic surgeons about Achilles' tears, and every one of them said that six months is the absolute earliest Crabtree can expect to be back on the field. The 49ers, of course, have declined to discuss Crabtree's surgery and recovery, saying only that they expect him back this season. Here's Dr. Eric Giza's - he's the chief of the foot and ankle service at UC Davis - time line for getting an athlete like Crabtree back in playing condition:

* Two weeks after surgery: Patient is in a walking boot. Not long ago patients had to wear a plaster cast for six weeks after surgery. The boot, however, preserves feeling and range of motion in the ankle and leads to less atrophy of the calf muscle.

* Four to six weeks: Patient starts to put weight on the foot. For an elite athlete like Crabtree, this can start at four weeks and usually begins in a pool. At six- to eight weeks, patients might begin working on a stationary bike or an elliptical machine to maintain their fitness.

* 12 to 16 weeks: Patient can start working on sport-specific actions. Giza said this is when patients regain proprioception - their body's ability to know where their limb is in space. "The brain is starting to forget that they had surgery, and they're getting that first step back," he said.

* 16 to 24 weeks: Despite an aggressive rehabilitation, patients still will lose muscle mass during the recovery. The last two months are about building that back, a process that can last a year after surgery.

-- 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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