49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 31, 2013
Brian Jennings: "honorably discharged from the team I love"

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Before we get to the nicely-done parting words of Brian Jennings, here's a quick indication of how long he's been with the 49ers:

* Jennings was teammates with Jerry Rice
* He was drafted by then-general manager Bill Walsh
* He saw the team go from a playoff team in 2001 to the league's worst team in 2004 to a Super Bowl team in 2012.
* He was in the same draft class as Giovanni Carmazzi

Here's a statement from Jennings:

"Today, I feel as though I've been honorably discharged from the team I love.

First, I'd like to thank the York family. Dr. York, Denise, Jed, Tony, Jenna and Mara.. You have blessed my life, God Bless you.

I'd like to thank the men who brought me to the team and trusted me to contribute: Bill Walsh, Jon McVay, and Bill McPherson.

August 31, 2013
49ers trim 21 players; roster at 53

49ers current roster:

Offense: 24
QBs (3) Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy, B.J. Daniels.
RBs (5) Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Bruce Miller, Anthony Dixon
WRs (5) Anquan Boldin, Marlon Moore, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton, Jon Baldwin
TEs (3) Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek
OL (8) Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Alex Boone, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney, Adam Snyder

Defense: 26
DL (6): Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Will Tukuafu, Tony Jerod-Eddie
ILBs (5): Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, Nicky Moody, Nate Stupar
OLBS (5): Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Dan Skuta, Corey Lemonier, Cam Johnson
CBs (5): Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha, Tramaine Brock, Perrish Cox
Ss (5): Donte Whitner, Eric Reid, Craig Dahl, C.J. Spillman, Ray Ventrone

August 31, 2013
And then there were five: 49ers WR corps takes shape after team cuts Collie, others

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The 49ers' wide-receiving corps is taking shape after the 49ers said goodbye today to a host of pass catchers, including the Sacramento Area's Austin Collie and preseason favorite Lavelle Hawkins. Also cut today were Chad Hall and Kassim Osgood.

That likely means the top five receivers entering the season are: Anquan Boldin, Marlon Moore (Natomas High), Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton and Jon Baldwin.

The team has two more wide receivers, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree, who are currently on the physically unable to perform list but who may be added to the 53-man roster during the season. Baldwin's $1.061 million salary this season is guaranteed whether he makes the team or not.

Austin (Oak Ridge High) proved he was back from a torn patella tendon that cost him the 2012 season in Indianapolis. But after being signed Aug. 2, neither he nor Hawkins, were given practice repetitions with the top offense and they typically entered preseason games late in the second half. Both acts signaled that the 49ers already had made up their minds about which receivers would make the squad.

Hawkins had a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Sunday's preseason game. On Thursday, he made a juggling catch, then bounced off three Chargers tacklers for a touchdown.

Hall, meanwhile, was perhaps the most consistent receiver when the entire offseason is considered. Defensive backs could not keep up with the undersized but cat-quick Hall in practice, and he reported in tip-top shape, never missing a practice. Hall even played some snaps at cornerback in Thursday's preseason finale.

None of the receivers cut today is eligible for the practice squad. The only eligible receiver is undrafted rookie Chuck Jacobs. His fate has not yet been reported.

-- Matt Barrows

August 31, 2013
Source: 49ers part ways with longsnapper Brian Jennings

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The 49ers today cut ties with their longest-tenured player, longsnapper Brian Jennings, who was drafted by then-general manager Bill Walsh in 2000 and who made two Pro Bowls during 13 seasons in San Francisco. Jennings' departure means the 49ers have decided to go with an undrafted rookie, Kevin McDermott, in a season in which they expect to return to the Super Bowl.

McDermott, who played at UCLA, took all of the snaps in Thursday's preseason finale and got the lion's share of the work in Sunday's game against Minnesota, too. Not one of the snaps was off. In choosing the rookie, the 49ers will get about a half million dollars in salary-cap savings, which is significant as they try to scrape every last penny in anticipation of looming deals for Colin Kaepernick, Aldon Smith, Mike Iupati and others.

Jennings, meanwhile, was the most consistent snapper over the last decade, and his precision never wavered, not even in the ice of Denver or the fierce winds of Soldier Field in Chicago. Jennings turns 37 in October.

-- Matt Barrows

August 31, 2013
Report: 49ers to sign Harbaugh favorite Owen Marecic

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Owen Marecic, who epitomized the always-hustling, do-everything player Jim Harbaugh covets when the two were at Stanford, is joining the 49ers roster, according to CSN Bay Area. Marecic played both linebacker and fullback for the Cardinal when Harbaugh was the head coach. Marecic was cut by the Browns earlier this week and passed through waivers.

Here's Harbaugh on draft day two years ago when asked about Marecic, who was drafted as a fullback in the fourth round by Cleveland:

"We did everything we could to get him here and we came up short on that one," he said. "Cleveland got an outstanding football player in Owen Marecic. Like Trent (Baalke) said, I'm going to be, in my mind, associated with Owen Marecic for a long time and following him and his career. I'll be a fan because I love the way he plays football. I texted him and said we tried. It didn't happen. That was one that we didn't get that is a 49er kind of guy and Cleveland will be very happy with him and that was a heck of a job by them."

The 49ers' starting fullback is Bruce Miller, and that's unlikely to change. Marecic's addition, however, could be bad news for a special teams candidate. Anthony Dixon plays tailback, fullback and special teams. However, his value increased with LaMichael James' recent knee injury. Ray Ventrone presumably also is vulnerable.

The 49ers must cut 22 players by 3 p.m. to reach the 53-man limit. Those cuts have begun.

-- Matt Barrows

August 31, 2013
Final cut: 49ers trimming roster to 53; Brian Jennings cut

The 49ers roster, which stood at 75 players on Friday, must be down to 53 by 3 p.m. today. Because defensive end Demarcus Dobbs is suspended for Week 1 he will not count against a roster spot for the opening week.

It's important to remember that there typically is roster shuffling over the next few days. The 49ers, for instance, added a quarterback, Troy Smith, after cut-down day in 2010 and another quarterback, Scott Tolzien, after cut-down day in 2011. That is, a player on the 53-man squad on Saturday afternoon may not necessarily be there on Sunday afternoon.

The 49ers can begin building an eight-man practice squad tomorrow.

The cut list so far:

ILB Travis Johnson* (R). Practice-squad eligible: Yes
S Michael Thomas. Practice-squad eligible: Yes
FB Jason Schepler* (R). Practice-squad eligible: Yes
S Trenton Robinson. Practice-squad eligible: Yes
G Wayne Tribue. Practice-squad eligible: Yes
WR Lavelle Hawkins.* Practice-squad eligible: No
WR Kassim Osgood. Practice-squad eligible: No
LS Brian Jennings. Practice-squad eligible: No
**T Carter Bykowski (R). Practice-squad eligible: Yes
**CB Marcus Cooper (R). Practice-squad eligible: Yes
WR Austin Collie. Practice-squad eligible: No
WR Chad Hall. Practice-squad eligible: No
CB Darryl Morris^ (R). Practice-squad eligible: Yes
OL Patrick Omameh (R). Practice-squad eligible: Yes

* reported by The San Francisco Chronicle
^ reported by CSN Bay Area
** Bykowski and Cooper were 2013 drafts picks. Both were selected in the seventh round.
R - rookie

-- Matt Barrows

August 30, 2013
Agent: QB Seneca Wallace not stepping away

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Seneca Wallace, who did not travel with the team to San Diego for Thursday's preseason finale, has no immediate plan to retire, his agent said today. Instead, agent Don Yee said Wallace met with Jim Harbaugh the morning of the game and said he didn't want to play if it meant mop-up work at the end.

After the game Harbaugh said Wallace told him he's not "continuing playing football." When asked by The Chronicle's Eric Branch if that meant Wallace, 33, was retiring, Harbaugh said, "Yeah, that's where it was left."

Yee, however, said Wallace hoped to keep playing. "That is not my understanding," he said of retirement plans. "My understanding is that Seneca will continue his football career but that there was a discussion about his situation particularly with the 49ers."

When the 49ers signed Wallace Aug. 22, fellow backup Colt McCoy seemed to be on shaky ground after two poor outings. However, three days later McCoy showed improvement against the Vikings -- and perhaps more important, he restructured his contract -- and Harbaugh named him the No. 2 quarterback after that game. Wallace got in on the last offensive series against Minnesota and completed his only two passes.

Asked Monday about the string of events, Wallace (Cordova High) said, "I'm just coming in and trying to do what I can. Harbaugh's been here for a long period time and has been doing a great job and knows what this team needs, and whatever that is -- looking for a No. 2 (quarterback) or a solid No. 3 -- whatever the case may be, I'm just trying to come in and do whatever I can."

Several teams may be looking for quarterbacks after final cuts are announced Saturday, and it's reasonable to assume that Wallace did not want to risk an injury behind the 49ers' backup offensive line if he had no chance to make the squad. Wallace is expecting the team to cut him today or Saturday.

Harbaugh said he was surprised by Wallace's decision. "He felt strongly about it," Harbaugh said. "I don't talk people out of that, you know? I've never seen it done on game day, but I wish him well."

Colin Kaepernick started Thursday's game followed by McCoy and rookie B.J. Daniels. That appears to be the team's pecking order at quarterback entering the season.

-- Matt Barrows

August 30, 2013
Return-game shuffle? LaMichael James has a sprained knee

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Running back LaMichael James sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Chargers, according to a league source. James went to the sideline and iced the left knee during the rest of the first half. The injury is believed to be a Grade 2 sprain, which typically requires three or four weeks of recovery. The 49ers have not given a time line for his return. James was seen limping after the game.

James was the team's No. 2 running back behind Frank Gore throughout the offseason as Kendall Hunter rehabilitated from an Achilles' injury suffered late last season. James had 24 carries for 55 yards and a 2.3-yard average during the preseason. Hunter is back and started Thursday's game at tailback.

James was inactive for the first 12 games of his rookie season last year. However, he gave the team a spark following Hunter's injury. He averaged 4.6 yards a carry in the final four regular-season games and 5.9 yards a carry in the postseason and Super Bowl. He also handled kick returns, averaging an impressive 29.8 yards a return in the regular season.

James also has served as the team's primary punt returner this offseason. Kyle Williams likely would take over those duties if, as expected, James cannot play early in the season. Rookie Quinton Patton handled the first two kick returns in Thursday's finale. He, Hunter, Perrish Cox or Williams are capable of handling those duties in James' absence. Receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who is believed to be on the roster bubble, returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown in Sunday's game. He also had a 33-yard return in the second half against the Chargers.

-- Matt Barrows

August 30, 2013
Film review: Cam Johnson answers sickle-cell concern; Bubble boys Stupar and Hawkins stand out

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First a statement from Captain Obvious: Cam Johnson had a great game. He finished with six tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, two additional quarterback hits and, oh yeah, he also blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. My sense is that Johnson already was heading for the 53-man squad; his performance should reinforce that impulse.

After all, other teams will scan the waiver wires over the next two days for quality players, especially pass rushers. I think the most notable thing about Johnson's performance was that he played nearly the entire game on both defense and special teams. As you might recall, the scouting report on Johnson last year was that he carried a sickle cell trait, which can cause mild anemia during games. Johnson slipped to the seventh round of the draft, and the suspicion is that his medical report had a lot to do with that. Teams were worried that he'd start to flag as the game went on.

Well, Johnson was revving high throughout Thursday's game, which ought to put any sickle-cell rumors/concerns to rest. He also gets style points for his slide-and-cradle when the ball was sitting there like a road apple in the end zone. At least Leon Lett thinks so.

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A lot of the so-called "bubble" players had good performances. Inside linebacker Nate Stupar, for example, led all tacklers with nine and he also tipped an interception to Craig Dahl. Would the 49ers keep five inside linebackers (in addition to five outside linebackers?) on the roster? Probably not, which would pit Stupar and rookie Nick Moody.

August 29, 2013
QB Seneca Wallace doesn't make trip to San Diego

Quarterback Seneca Wallace, who was signed a week ago by the 49ers, did not make the trip to San Diego for the preseason finale. The 49ers said that Wallace, a nine-year veteran, chose not to make the trip for "personal reasons." After the game, Jim Harbaugh said Wallace told him he didn't want to continue playing football.

"Never seen it done on game day," Harbaugh said. "Wish him well. Gave Colt (McCoy) and B.J. Daniels) more snaps tonight."

The three quarterbacks on hand for today's preseason finale -- and likely the team's quarterback corps going into the season -- were Colin Kaepernick, McCoy and rookie Daniels. Wallace was scheduled to play at the end of the game. Wallace, 33, did not play last season and was cut by the Saints earlier this month.

When Wallace was signed Aug. 22, McCoy seemed to be on shaky ground after two poor outings. However, he was better in the third game Sunday -- and perhaps more important, he restructured his contract -- and Jim Harbaugh named him the No. 2 quarterback after the game.

Asked Monday about the string of events, Wallace (Cordova High) said, "I'm just coming in and trying to do what I can. Harbaugh's been here for a long period time and has been doing a great job and knows what this team needs, and whatever that is -- looking for a No. 2 (quarterback) or a solid No. 3 -- whatever the case may be, I'm just trying to come in and do whatever I can. So I don't know exactly who's been named or whatever he's done. Like I said, I've been here four days. I'm just trying to get up to speed with everybody else."

Asked if he had a sense he might be auditioning for the other 31 teams in tonight's contest, Wallace said, "Possibly. I've been here five days. My expectations coming in weren't, 'Hey, I'm going to be the No. 2.' I don't know the offense yet. My expectation is to go out whenever I do play and just perform and let everything else take its course."

-- Matt Barrows

August 29, 2013
Live chat: San Francisco 49ers: Cut-down day cometh
 
August 29, 2013
Bubble boys: Which 49ers are on the edge of a roster spot

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If the NFL preseason is largely a farce, the fourth preseason game is the absurd crescendo. A case in point: the Tolzien-Johnson Affair of 2012.

If you'll go back one year, you'll recall that Scott Tolzien and Josh Johnson were duking it out for the role of No. 3 quarterback. It was the only roster battle that remained and, judging from the rhetoric from the coaching staff, it was tight. Jim Harbaugh called it a "dead heat."

Luckily, there was the fourth preseason game to decide it. And the game certainly was decisive. Johnson looked like the second coming of Fran Tarkenton in finishing 9-14 for 125 yards and a 132.4 passer rating.

Tolzien, meanwhile, was a dud. On one series he severely under-threw receiver Chris Owusu, who had two steps on his defender. Two plays later he was intercepted by a Chargers defensive lineman. He finished 3-8 for 42 yards and a 15.6 rating.

And yet the next day it was Tolzien who was declared the winner and Johnson who was cut. What happened? The fourth preseason game, that's what. Yes, there are roster battles in the preseason, but 97.9 percent were decided prior to Tuesday's first round of cuts. The main thing that can determine a roster spot at this point is an injury, which is terrible but true and which is why the entire 49ers starting defense, Frank Gore and starting receivers Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Kyle Williams sat out last year's finale.

Having said all that, we still don't know exactly what those roster decisions are. And while many of the guys who play the bulk of today's game are destined to be cut, many will wind up on practice squads and some will be snapped up by other teams. With that in mind, here's the list of players who at least appear to be on the roster bubble.

QB Seneca Wallace. He was signed one week ago when Colt McCoy's roster spot seemed fuzzy. Now McCoy, after restructuring his contract, seems safe and Wallace's spot seems tenuous. Don't wring your hands too hard. There still are several quarterback openings out there -- hello, Buffalo -- and Wallace can use today's game as an audition. Look for Wallace and B.J. Daniels to get the bulk of the work. Practice-squad eligible: no.

August 28, 2013
Harbaugh has second chance with Stanford favorite son, Owen Marecic

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Jim Harbaugh always has been fond of - we might even be able to use the "l" word - Owen Marecic, who played for him at Stanford. Marecic was the epitome of the always-hustling, do-everything player Harbaugh covets, and he played both linebacker and fullback for the Cardinal. Both entered the NFL in 2011. Marecic, however, was drafted by the Browns in the four rounds before the 49ers were ready to take him. Here's Harbaugh on draft day 2011:

"We did everything we could to get him here and we came up short on that one," he said. "Cleveland got an outstanding football player in Owen Marecic. Like Trent (Baalke) said, I'm going to be, in my mind, associated with Owen Marecic for a long time and following him and his career. I'll be a fan because I love the way he plays football. I texted him and said we tried. It didn't happen. That was one that we didn't get that is a 49er kind of guy and Cleveland will be very happy with him and that was a heck of a job by them."

Now Harbaugh gets a second stab at his former player. Marecic was cut by the Browns yesterday, making available through waivers today. Would the 49ers make a move?

Marecic has other connections on the 49ers beside Harbaugh. Six other coaches, including offensive coordinator Greg Roman, are familiar with him from Stanford. There's also been a steady San Francisco-Cleveland pipeline of late, with players like Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, Phil Dawson and Ray Ventrone coming this way and punter Colton Schmidt (UC Davis) going the other way. Schmidt was claimed by the Browns Tuesday.

Then again, there isn't even one atom of sentimentality at 49ers headquarters. (Just ask Parys Haralson. Or Alex Smith. Or Tarell Brown. Or Josh Johnson. Or ...). Marecic didn't play well with the Browns. He dropped too many passes and didn't stand out on special teams, which is why he was cut. Meanwhile, Baalke is very proud of the fullback he found in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, Bruce Miller.

There is no way Marecic would supplant Miller at fullback. The question is whether the 49ers would supplement him with a former Harbaugh favorite. My guess is no ...

-- Matt Barrows

August 27, 2013
Patrick Willis looking blue at practice; Eric Wright joins team

Patrick Willis went through warmups with the rest of the linebackers today in a blue, non-contact jersey. When that session ended, he walked to a side field to work with trainers. Still, it was Willis' first involvement in practice since he broke his right hand during a pass protection drill July 31.

Earlier today defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he expected Willis to be in the lineup for the team's Week 1 game against Green Bay. "Now he may have to play with some contraption on his hand for a little bit, but my understanding is he'll be ready," Fangio said.

Also in blue, non-contact jerseys were outside linebacker Cam Johnson (shoulder), cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and running back Jewel Hampton. Another linebacker, Nate Stupar, has a brace on his left arm but no longer is in a non-contact jersey. The team also re-signed linebacker Joe Holland, who was cut Monday, for Thursday's preseason finale in San Diego. That puts the 49ers' roster at 75 players.

Meanwhile, cornerback Eric Wright, who was signed earlier this month, joined the team today after dealing with a personal matter. Wright was on a side field with the rest of the injured players.

He has been placed on the non-football injury list, which means he cannot practice with his new team until after Week 6. He can be signed to the 53-man roster after that point.

Wright was arrested for suspicion of DUI last month in Los Angeles, but charges have not been filed in the case.

-- Matt Barrows

August 27, 2013
49ers notes: Eric Reid wins starting job; Asomugha looking good but nicked

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Vic Fangio today said the only open competitions for a starting spot on the 49ers defense is now closed: Eric Reid has won what began as a four-way battle to replace Dashon Goldson at free safety.

"He's gotten better and better each and every day," Fangio said. "He's had mistakes here and there, but overall he's just been steady. He's grown in the position which has allowed his ability to come through more and more. He's tackled well in the games which is important to us. We lost a really good tackler last year in Goldson. We think Reid will continue to improve as the season goes on."

The news came as no surprise. The 49ers traded ahead 13 spots in the first round to select Reid out of LSU. He's played well in recent weeks and got his first start Sunday against the Vikings. Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder challenged the rookie with a deep pass on the first play of the game. The ball fell incomplete.

"I like to say I'd have gotten a pick, but you never know," Reid said when asked what would have happened had the pass been on target. "But I was in good position."

August 27, 2013
Personnel maneuvers: 49ers trim roster to 74

The 49ers reached the 75-man roster limit today without having to release any healthy players. Instead they transferred eight players -- including receiver Michael Crabtree -- to injury lists and waived/injured two more players, Lawrence Okoye and Lamar Divens. Okoye, the former British discus thrower, injured his knee on one of the final plays in Sunday's game.

If Okoye and Divens clear waivers, the 49ers either can negotiate an injury settlement with them or place them on injured reserve. Jim Harbaugh said Okoye's knee sprain is not a long-term injury. "We'll have his rights when he's healthy and we can sign him back," Harbaugh said.

The 49ers placed rookies Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Marcus Lattimore and Luke Marquardt on the reserve/non-football injury list. Cornerback Eric Wright, who has yet to join the team while he confronts a personal issue, also is on that list.

Meanwhile, Crabtree and Mario Manningham will be placed on the Reserve/PUP List. Players on both lists do not count against the roster total but will not be eligible to practice until at least the Tuesday following the completion of week six of the NFL schedule.

The team also placed cornerback Chris Culliver on injured reserve. Defensive tackles Divens and Okoye were waived/injured. The 49ers roster currently stands at 74. They must trim it to 53 on Saturday.

-- Matt Barrows

August 27, 2013
Colt McCoy reduced base salary to the league minimum

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Colt McCoy, who was named the 49ers' No. 2 quarterback after Sunday's preseason win against the Vikings, renegotiated his salary to the league minimum the day before the game, according to NFL Players Association records. McCoy is due to earn $630,000 in base salary this year - the minimum for a fourth-year player - which is down from the $1.5 million he was due to earn in 2013.

McCoy is in the final year of his contract. The new deal also has a roster bonus of $54,375 per game, according to the NFLPA. That means if McCoy is in uniform for all 16 games this season, he'll earn an additional $870,000. That, plus his base salary, equals the $1.5 million he was going to earn before the restructure. In essence, the 49ers are telling McCoy that he has to earn his No. 2 status in order to earn his previous salary.

Put another way: They've taken economics out of the equation when it comes to evaluating their backup quarterbacks. McCoy's new cap figure is $1.45 million.

Heading into Sunday's game, McCoy's spot on the roster seemed tenuous. He played poorly in the 49ers' first two preseason games, and the 49ers added another veteran quarterback, Seneca Wallace, to the roster on Thursday.

McCoy blamed his slow start on straining to learn the 49ers' copious playbook. He said everything began to click for him last week. He had a good week of practice leading into Sunday's game and then played better, though not perfectly, against the Vikings. That, coupled with the new contract, changed his prospects.

"The thing that's been very encouraging is he's progressed and gotten better every week," Jim Harbaugh said after the game. "Tonight, just down after down, consistently good, that's what we've been looking for."

Harbaugh and McCoy are represented by the same agent, David Dunn.

The 49ers reduced their quarterback corps by one Monday when they cut Scott Tolzien. With Colin Kaepernick and McCoy set as the Nos. 1 and 2 passers, look for Wallace and rookie B.J. Daniels to take most of the snaps in Thursday's finale.

The 49ers must further trim their roster by nine players today.

-- Matt Barrows

August 27, 2013
49ers already have 11 picks in 2014 draft

The 49ers, who had a whopping 11 picks in this year's draft, already have 11 in next year's with more on the way in compensatory picks.

The team's strategy for maintaining success is to keep its best free agents, allow others to walk and then replace them through the draft. That was process this year when the 49ers lost safety Dashon Goldson and replaced him with Eric Reid.

2014 draft picks:
1. First round - own pick
2. Second round - own pick
3. Third round - pick from Kansas City (Alex Smith). Selection could turn into a second-round pick if the Chiefs finish 8-8 or better.
4. Third round - pick from Tennessee. Titans moved up in second round this year to take WR Justin Hunter.
5. Third round - own pick
6. Fourth round - own pick
7. Fifth round - own pick
8. Sixth round - own pick
9. Seventh round - own pick
10. Seventh round - pick from Carolina (2012 Colin Jones trade)
11. Seventh round - pick from New Orleans (Parys Haralson)*

*The New Orleans trade is contingent on Haralson making the Saints roster, which he is expected to do. In fact, he could start at outside linebacker.

*The 49ers also are expected to be awarded at least one compensatory pick in the 2014 draft after losing Goldson, Delanie Walker, Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean-Francois and Ted Ginn in free agency. That pick could be as high as a third, which perhaps would give the 49ers six picks in the first 100 selections of the draft.

-- Matt Barrows

August 26, 2013
Joe Looney: "I was playing to the whistle"

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Joe Looney said he was "playing to the whistle" when he hit Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams in the third quarter Sunday and that he meant the veteran starter no harm. Williams left the game and was diagnosed today with a hyperextended knee and a bone bruise but no ligament damage.

"I didn't want to take out his knee or anything like that," Looney said today in the 49ers locker room. "You know, I'm coached to go 110 percent and I'm trying to make this team. I've been hurt before and I know what it's like to be hurt, and I wouldn't wish that harm on anybody in this league. I tried to find him after the game to let him know I wasn't trying to take a low shot on him."

Looney suffered a broken foot before the 2012 Senior Bowl. He recovered in time for the season but did not play any snaps last year for the 49ers.

Williams, who along with the rest of the Vikings starters, played well into the third quarter, was understandably angry with what happened. "I was just upset that I'm getting cut 11 years in [the NFL] from a guy who I don't even know," Williams told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I figure between the pain and the fact he cut me when I wasn't looking was my reaction."

Looney said he saw tailback LaMichael James initially get stopped in the backfield but then start cutting back in his direction. Williams did not seem to see the same thing and was letting up when Looney went down to hit him. Looney said he was relieved when he heard there was no ligament damage for Williams.

"Definitely dealing with injuries - it sucks," he said. "And I wish him a full recovery."

- Matt Barrows

August 26, 2013
There's been a trade: Haralson heading to New Orleans

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****UPDATE***** The compensation for Haralson is a conditional seventh-round pick. If he makes the Saints roster, New Orleans will send their 2014 seventh-round pick to San Francisco.

Dealing with an abundance of outside linebackers this year, the 49ers traded the most veteran of the bunch, Parys Haralson, to the New Orleans Saints on Monday. News of the trade broke when Haralson began saying goodbyes in the team's locker room shortly before practice. Running back Frank Gore approached Haralson and said, "Go easy on me." The Saints and 49ers will meet Nov. 17 in New Orleans.

A year ago, the 49ers had a shortage at the position, especially after their only backup, Clark Haggans, went down with a shoulder injury. This year, there are several young players behind starters Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith. One of them, third-round pick Corey Lemonier, has looked particularly good this preseason, and the 49ers likely want to get Lemonier on the field as much as possible this year.

Two other backups are Dan Skuta, who also plays special teams, and 2012 draft pick Cam Johnson, who was hurt for most of the 2012 season. Johnson left Sunday's game with a shoulder injury; it's not known how severe.

Haralson, a seven-year veteran, began the season with a relatively high salary-cap figure. But he wanted to remain with the team and agreed to cut that salary almost in half. His base pay went from $2.57 million to $1.3 million.

Haralson, 29, was a starter for the 49ers from 2007-2011. Two years ago, he started games opposite Brooks at outside linebacker. He went to the sideline on passing downs, which enabled Aldon Smith to go in. During last year's preseason, he tore his triceps tendon and was lost for the season. He has fully recovered from that injury and was enjoying a strong preseason. Haralson is entering the final year of his deal.

The Saints lost one of their starting outside linebackers, Will Smith, to an ACL tear earlier this week. Haralson is expected to have a starting role in New Orleans.

With Haralson on his way to a new city, the 49ers will have to release only nine more players by Tuesday at 1 p.m. to get under the 75-man limit. They released five others, including Scott Tolzien, today.

-- Matt Barrows

August 26, 2013
QB Tolzien among five players waived by 49ers

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Scott Tolzien, who served as the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback the last two years, was one of five players waived today as the 49ers try to reach the 75-player roster limit by Tuesday. Tolzien was the only quarterback who did not play in the team's third preseason game Sunday.

Punter Colton Schmidt (UC Davis), linebacker Joe Holland, guard Al Netter and running back D.J. Harper also were released. The 49ers still must trim 10 players from their 90 man roster before Tuesday at 1 p.m. All of the players let go today, including Tolzien, are eligible for the practice squad. Of that group, Schmidt was perhaps the most impressive. His four punts this preseason averaged 50.3 yards, and he also made a tackle on a return.

The 49ers picked up Tolzien in 2011 after the Chargers released him with the intention of re-signing him to their practice squad. He never threw a pass in a regular-season game but was a valuable resource to both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick when preparing for opponents during the week.

Tolzien beat Josh Johnson for the No. 3 spot a year ago despite the fact that Johnson had a stellar performance in that year's preseason finale while Tolzien struggled. Those struggles continued through the current preseason. Tolzien completed 18-34 passes with an interception and two other would-be interceptions that were dropped. Johnson, meanwhile, has been the No. 2 quarterback in Cincinnati this season. He has a 98.6 passer rating through two games and also has rushed for 91 yards.

After Sunday's game, Jim Harbaugh declared Colt McCoy to be Kaepernick's primary backup this season. The team also has good-looking rookie B.J. Daniels and just-signed veteran Seneca Wallace on the roster. Look for Daniels and Wallace to get the bulk of the work in Thursday's finale. Daniels is eligible for the practice squad.

It's possible that neophyte defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye also will be released. Okoye injured his knee Sunday and is unlikely to play Thursday. The 49ers likely would be able to bring Okoye back to the practice squad if they so desired. Injured reserve also is a possibility for Okoye depending on the severity of his knee injury. Okoye said Sunday it was not serious.

-- Matt Barrows

August 26, 2013
Film review: Patton, Brooks stand out; Was Looney's hit a cheap shot?

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Here's an analysis of the 49ers' 34-14 win over the Vikings:

I was most impressed with Quinton Patton, mainly because it was the first time I've ever seen him with the ball in his hand in a full-contact situation. His broken index finger recently healed, Patton, simply put, looked like he belonged. As I've written before, on paper there's nothing special about Patton. He's not particularly big or fast and he's not much of a leaper.

But as was the case at Louisiana Tech, he always seems to be involved in the action. I thought he showed really nice balance and elasticity after the catch against the Vikings. And, while it's very early, he seems to be a nice complement to the receiving corps in general and to Anquan Boldin in particular. Patton led all receivers with four catches for 35 yards.

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And he wasn't only in on offense. The 49ers used Patton on specials teams, including as a kick returner and on the coverage units on the opening kickoff. The other 10 players on the opening kickoff - always a good barometer for gauging the final roster - were: C.J. Spillman, Perrish Cox, Craig Dahl, Dan Skuta, Anthony Dixon, Corey Lemonier, Kassim Osgood, Bubba Ventrone and Phil Dawson.

Osgood is interesting. He played 12 snaps on special teams but only five on offense. Dahl led the way with two special teams tackles, and that could be his niche this season if, as expected, Eric Reid takes over as the starting free safety.

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No, Colt McCoy did not have a performance that said, 'Wow, you absolutely cannot cut this guy.' And the skeptics among us wonder if Jim Harbaugh's sudden backing of McCoy has as much, if not more, to do with McCoy reducing his contract Saturday night as it does with solid play.

August 26, 2013
Snap count underscores 49ers WR pecking order

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Here's how the snaps were divided among the 49ers receivers Sunday evening, suggesting it's not much of a guess as far as the top five or six players on the depth chart.

Marlon Moore: 29
Quinton Patton: 29
Jon Baldwin: 23
Chad Hall: 20
Anquan Boldin: 14
Chuck Jacobs: 12
Lavelle Hawkins: 6
Kassim Osgood: 5

Collie has received a lot of attention since the 49ers signed him Aug. 2. After all, he's a local boy (El Dorado Hills) who was part of an excellent offense in Indianapolis and who is unique among the 49ers backups for his experience. However, Collie continues to work with the scout-team offense in practice and enters the games late with the rest of the reserves. He didn't see his first snap until 20 minutes remained in the third quarter Sunday; his only catch came in the fourth. That suggests coaches don't see him making the squad.

The bigger question is Hall, who has been the 49ers' star pupil since the offseason program began. Hall has been a practice favorite, and while he hasn't started any games, he's entered in the first quarter, often in three-receiver routes. He would seem to be the team's sixth receiver in the coaches' hierarchy behind Boldin, Moore, Kyle Williams, Patton and Baldwin. If they keep five, however, Hall does not have practice-squad eligibility.

Osgood also is interesting. He played 12 snaps on special teams but only five on offense. Could he be one of the two or three players who wins a roster spot based solely on his special teams ability?

As far as the practice squad, my sense is Jacobs is the in-house leader. (The 49ers already know what they have in Ricardo Lockette, who also is eligible). But I think they'll scan the waiver wires for a young receiver they think might be able to be developed.

-- Matt Barrows

August 25, 2013
49ers notes: Hawkins' return sparks specials teams, irks Harbaugh

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A 49ers special teams that allowed a 104-yard kickoff in its most recent outing bounced back Sunday with a 105-yard touchdown return by Lavelle Hawkins against the Vikings.

Before he had high-stepped across the goal line, however, officials were throwing flags at Hawkins for taunting. The backup receiver also was penalized for removing his helmet on the play, a double whammy that drew some harsh words from Jim Harbaugh on the sideline.

Hawkins wasn't finished.

Following a 22-yard catch down the sideline from B.J. Daniels in the fourth quarter, he flipped the ball at the feet of safety Mistral Raymond and then head-butted a former Cal temmate, linebacker Desmond Bishop, drawing another 15-yard penalty. "He's definitely got to do a better job of not getting emotionally hijacked after doing something great," Harbaugh said after the game.

Said Hawkins: "I'm going to go talk to (Harbaugh) and apologize to him and to the team. Because that's not ok. I don't care if it's preseason or practice, we can't have that. ... It was my emotion. I was pumped up, I was excited, but I didn't know those will be flagged. Never in my mind did I thought, 'Well, I'll just show off. I made a play. Forget my team.' It's never that. it's always team-first in my eyes."

Still, Hawkins' return highlighted a strong outing for the special teams, one of the 49ers' focal points of the team's offseason maneuvers. Kicker Phil Dawson struck a 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half, his third from 50 or longer this preseason. The coverage units also played well with safety Craig Dahl leading the way with two special teams tackles. The Vikings average kickoff return was 20.8 yards.

August 25, 2013
Harbaugh leaves no doubt: McCoy is his No. 2 QB

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It wasn't exactly a definitive performance. Colt McCoy was 11-15 for 109 yards with an interception in the 49ers' 34-14 win over the Vikings. But afterward, Jim Harbaugh left no doubt that McCoy, who was the subject of trade rumors earlier in the day, was the top backup for Colin Kaepernick heading into the season.

"He was accurate with his throws," Harbaugh said. "I thought he was plus, plus tonight."

Earlier in the day, an NFL.com report said the 49ers were making and receiving calls about trading McCoy, not a farfetched scenario considering his struggles this preseason and the fact the 49ers signed Seneca Wallace, their fifth quarterback, on Thursday.

Harbaugh, however, dismissed the report as "speculation." "If it's on the Internet it must be true," he said archly.

McCoy did verify that he restructured his contract on the eve of today's game. He was due to earn $1.5 million this season. A league source told The Bee the new salary was the league minimum for a veteran - $630,000 - along with incentives.

McCoy attributed his preseason struggles to having to learn a copious new offense and straining to do so this offseason. He said things began to click for him this week and he felt that translated to today's game. McCoy played through the second and third quarters, and he led a 91-yard drive that was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Jewel Hampton.

"I hadn't performed the way I know I can perform," he said. "I hadn't picked up on the offense as well as I'd liked to, and that's no one's fault but mine. I'm staying up until midnight trying to figure things out. Maybe I was thinking a little too much. But for whatever reason, I just picked up on it a little slower than I wanted."

Rookie B.J. Daniels entered in the third quarter and again looked good in leading a 15-play drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown plunge by Anthony Dixon. Wallace mopped up at the end of the game while Scott Tolzien didn't play.

Asked where things stand, Wallace said he didn't know. "I just got here. I'm still spinning," he said. "... I'm just trying to come in and get everyone's name down."

-- Matt Barrows

August 25, 2013
Finger 11: Patton gives WR corps first half spark

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Quinton Patton's left index finger healed and, for one game at last, so did the 49ers' wide-receiving woes.

Playing in his first-ever NFL game, Patton caught two passes on a long touchdown drive in the first quarter, the second a five-yard snag in the back of the end zone. Meanwhile, a 49ers special teams that stumbled in Kansas City on Aug. 16 bounded back with a 105-yard kickoff return by Lavelle Hawkins against the Vikings, and San Francisco leads 20-7 at the half.

Colin Kaepernick, who left the first two preseason games after one series, stayed in for three against the Vikings. His third was the best of the summer so far for the 49ers. Starting from the 16-yard line, Kaepernick hit Vernon Davis twice, Marlon Moore twice and Patton twice on an 84-yard drive.

Patton's first catch, for 19 yards, came on a dart up the seam from Kaepernick. His second, a five yarder, went for a touchdown when Kaepernick found Patton streaking across the back of the end zone a half step in front of cornerback Josh Robinson. Patton broke his finger on a Colt McCoy pass before training camp. He's been able to run routes, but only could catch passes one handed.

August 25, 2013
Ten 49ers to watch today vs. Vikings

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No. 2, Colt McCoy, QB
Aside from Colin Kaepernick, none of the 49ers quarterbacks should feel secure. But McCoy is in the most danger. He completed just six passes in the first two games and has two interceptions. He'll be the second quarterback to enter the game, but three others are gunning for the job. The 49ers recently re-worked McCoy's deal so that he'll make the league minimum this year. With a solid outing, that would make him more likely to stay. But it also makes him easier to trade.

No. 18, Seneca Wallace, QB
Wallace was signed Thursday and after just two practices with his new team, he'll be given set list of plays to run in today's game. A solid outing can't hurt the Rando Cordova product. But Wallace's spot on the team has more to do with how McCoy and Scott Tolzien (No. 3) play against the Vikings. Another quarterback, B.J. Daniels (No. 5), also will play. Daniels is second only to Kaepernick in physical ability among the Qbs. Read more about him here.

No. 84, Jon Baldwin, WR
The 49ers want to get Baldwin up to speed as quickly as possible, so he should see a significant number of snaps. With one catch, he will have the same number of preseason receptions as his predecessor, A.J. Jenkins.

No. 11, Quinton Patton, WR
Baldwin isn't the only 49ers' receiver making his preseason debut. Patton, a fourth-round draft pick, also will be on the field after recovering from a broken index finger. Patton had been running routes in practice but was unable to catch the passes that went his way. That is, his injury didn't force him entirely out of practice, and it will be interesting to see how much this eager rookie plays today. Patton has a strong chance of being one of the five or six receivers to make the 53-man squad.

August 25, 2013
No surprise: 49ers in trade talks for QB Colt McCoy

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Colt McCoy is scheduled to be the second 49ers quarterback to enter today's game, but the team's long-term plans for him are dubious. According to NFL.com, the team has been taking trade calls for the quarterback recently.

That's little surprise. McCoy has been a disappointment through two preseason games, and the 49ers already hinted strongly that he was on shaky ground when they signed Seneca Wallace, who once served as McCoy's backup, on Thursday. The team has five quarterbacks on the roster, and all five are expected to play against the Vikings this evening, Jim Harbaugh said.

The 49ers obtained McCoy in a trade with the Browns this offseason. They sent a 5th-rd pick (164) and a 7th-rd pick (227) to the Browns in exchange for McCoy and a 6th-round pick (173). That 6th-round pick was packaged with a second-round pick so that the 49ers could move up in the second round and select tight end Vance McDonald.

The 49ers and McCoy recently restructured his deal to the league minimum. Theoretically, that would increase his chances of sticking around should he have a strong performance today. It also makes him easier to trade. McCoy had been due to make $1.5 million. the league minimum for a player with his experience is $630,000.

McCoy has thrown two interceptions through two preseason games, and he has a dismal passer rating of 25.3. Still, injuries have taken their toll on other teams' quarterback corps this offseason, and the 49ers could find a taker for someone they intend to cut anyway.

In Buffalo, for example, both Kevin Kolb and rookie E.J. Manuel are out with injuries. The Jets, meanwhile, watched their presumptive starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, go down with a shoulder injury last night.

-- Matt Barrows

August 23, 2013
All in: Harbaugh says five QBs, including Seneca Wallace, to play Sunday

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Newcomer quarterback Seneca Wallace will get into the game on Sunday against Minnesota. So will Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien and B.J. Daniels.

"We'll split it up five ways," said Jim Harbaugh, who added that the plan remains for Kaepernick to start and for McCoy to be the second passer to enter the game for the 49ers.

Wallace (Cordova High, Sacramento City College) was released by the Saints on Monday, and he said the 49ers contacted him shortly thereafter. Harbaugh said it was rare to find a nine-year veteran with athletic skills like Wallace's at this stage of the preseason.

"There's numerous plays in our system that he's done before, whether it's Cleveland or Seattle," Harbaugh said. "So it's just a matter of learning how we call them and getting familiar with the quarterback-center exchange. The timing with the receivers may not be precise and exact. But to get out and play and compete - we feel he can do that."

Offensive consultant Eric Mangini was in Cleveland when the Browns traded for Wallace and Mangini supported the move, Harbaugh said. "(He) felt like he could do a lot of the things that a quarterback that can move could do in our system," Harbaugh said. "Thought it would be worth exploring."

Wallace, who will wear No. 18, said he'll get a package of plays to use against the Vikings. "It's very similar," he said of the 49ers offense and the ones he's run before. "The only thing is, you've just got to put it in their terms. Obviously, West Coast (offense) is West Coast. Everybody just puts their own spin on it."

The only quarterback in doubt for Sunday is Tolzien, who hasn't practiced in full since the Chiefs game. Harbaugh said Tolzien "was working through something" but the hope is that after a day off yesterday he'll be able to practice today. The 49ers practice at 4 p.m. It will be Wallace's first with his new team.

-- Matt Barrows

August 23, 2013
Austin Collie says he's back to normal after 10-month rehab

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When the 49ers signed Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins on Aug. 2, their wide-receiving corps was in tatters. They simply needed bodies at the position. Even quarterback B.J. Daniels was taking repetitions at wideout to help the team get through an afternoon practice.

Two days later, however, four of the team's previously injured wide receivers were back in action. And the 49ers suddenly had a full house. Collie and Hawkins have been worked into mix since then, but they still mostly are working with the scout-team offenses. The question now is whether they've had enough time to impress a coaching staff that must cut 15 players from the roster Tuesday and trim it to 53 next Saturday.

The 49ers' top five wideouts appear to be: Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore, Quinton Patton and newcomer Jon Baldwin.

Collie, for one, said he'd like more opportunities but stopped well short of saying he was frustrated by the situation: "If you don't want to be on the field all the time, there's something wrong with you," the Oak Ridge High product said. "That's the nature of the beast being a wide receiver. That's the nature of the beast being a football player."

August 22, 2013
McBath goes on injured reserve; 49ers sign Holland

Darcel McBath saved a touchdown Friday in Kansas City, and while doing so ended his season. McBath, a safety, was placed on injured reserve today with a foot injury he suffered while running down Chiefs punt returner Devon Wylie in the third quarter.

Taking his place on the active roster is inside linebacker Joe Holland, who was waived by the Buccaneers this week. Holland joined the 49ers as an undrafted free agent from Purdue last offseason and played well. He was among the 49ers' final cuts, and he later spent time on the practice squad for the Dolphins and Buccaneers. The 49ers likely signed him because inside linebacker Nate Stupar, another special teams player, has missed practice this week with an undisclosed injury.

McBath, meanwhile, was a backup safety a year ago and also appeared on special teams. Along with Patrick Willis, he stopped a fake field goal attempt by the Ravens in the second quarter of the Super Bowl. However, he appeared to have the best shot at tackling Ravens returner Jacoby Jones early in his 108-yard touchdown to open the second half.

The others on injured reserve are LB Darius Fleming (ACL), WR Brandon Carswell (ACL) and FB Alex Debniak (Achilles').

-- Matt Barrows

August 22, 2013
Now or never: Pressure builds for Colt McCoy

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In June, it seemed like Colt McCoy was comfortably the No. 2 quarterback behind Colin Kaepernick. "He has been in that role since he got here," Jim Harbaugh said at the time. "He's doing very well, picking up the system. And a guy that is really serious and focused on being good and doing a good job. He's got a lot of things that motivate him to work hard. And he's worked extra hard, too. He's doing well."

In recent weeks, however, there has been mounting pressure on McCoy, obtained by the 49ers in a trade this offseason, to start delivering like a No. 2 quarterback should. A timeline:

* Aug. 7: Two days before the preseason opener, for example, Harbaugh said the competition for the No. 2 role was "very even." In the ensuing game, McCoy threw a bad interception and also hurt his shoulder. His passer rating: 22.6.

* Aug. 16: Kaepernick played only one series in the preseason opener as expected. What wasn't expected -- he played only four snaps in the next game in Kansas City while other starters around the league played a quarter or more. The 49ers A.) wanted to see more of McCoy and his primary competition, Scott Tolzien and B.) realized that the drop off after Kaepernick is significant and they couldn't afford a "freakish" injury.

* Aug. 16: When rookie B.J. Daniels outperformed McCoy and Tolzien by a wide margin in the preseason game, Harbaugh announced that his practice repetitions would grow and that there was now a three-way battle for the No. 2 role. McCoy's passer rating: 28.5.

* Aug. 19: The 49ers began placing Kaepernick in a black, no-contact jersey, reemphasizing that he's not to be touched in practice. Message: Gee whiz, we'd hate to have to go to our backups.

* Aug. 22: The 49ers sign Seneca Wallace, who hasn't been on a regular-season roster since 2011. The signal to McCoy and to Tolzien is clear - deliver on Sunday against the Vikings or you're out. Harbaugh said Wednesday that McCoy would be the second quarterback to enter the game.

-- Matt Barrows

August 22, 2013
49ers sign QB Seneca Wallace; cut WR Ricardo Lockette

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The 49ers now have five quarterbacks on their roster after signing former Seahawks and Browns passer Seneca Wallace to a one-year deal today. Wallace was cut by the Saints earlier this week and worked out for the 49ers yesterday. To make room, the team cut receiver Ricardo Lockette, a housemate of Colin Kaepernick's and Kaepernick's best friend on the team.

Wallace (Cordova High School, Sacramento City College) last played in 2011 with Cleveland. He originally was a fourth-round pick by Seattle. In 2010, he was traded to the Browns and served as current 49ers quarterback Colt McCoy's backup in 2010 and 2011. Eric Mangini, whom the 49ers hired as a consultant in the offseason, was the Browns' head coach when they traded for Wallace.

Neither McCoy nor Scott Tolzien has played well in the first two preseason games, prompting coach Jim Harbaugh to increase rookie B.J. Daniels' snap count in practice this week.

Harbaugh said McCoy will continue to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Colin Kaepernick on Sunday against Minnesota but has indicated Daniels will enter the game earlier than he did Friday in Kansas City.

Playing mostly against the Chiefs' reserve defense, Daniels finished 6 for 9 for 72 yards and a touchdown and had a 128 passer rating. McCoy threw an interception, while Tolzien nearly threw two. McCoy has a 25.3 passer rating through two preseason games. Tolzien's is 56.9.

August 22, 2013
Cut-down day cometh: Who is p-squad eligible for 49ers?

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In just five days, the 49ers will reduce their roster from 90 to 75 players. Four days after that they must winnow it to 53 players. The next day, Sept. 1, they can start building an eight-man practice squad.

Who is eligible for the practice squad? There are some interesting names on the list and some intriguing ones that aren't on it. Chad Hall, for instance, is not eligible. He's one of the receivers who worked out with Colin Kaepernick in the Atlanta area in the offseason, and he's been perhaps the most productive wideout on the team going back to the start of the offseason program. For Hall, it's either make a team's 53-man or go home.

Two quarterbacks, Scott Tolzien and B.J. Daniels, are eligible. It will be interesting to see how much the 49ers play Daniels the rest of the preseason. If it's only in small amounts at the end of games like last Friday's, it may be a clue that they plan to stash him on the practice squad. Jim Harbaugh said yesterday that Colt McCoy will be the second quarterback to play Sunday after Kaepernick.

Some players who seem intriguing for the practice squad include defensive end Lawrence Okoye, cornerbacks Darryl Morris and Marcus Cooper, tight end MarQueis Gray, receivers Chuck Jacobs and Ricardo Lockette, running backs Jewel Hampton and D.J. Harper, linebacker Nate Stupar and guard Wayne Tribue. Trenton Robinson is in a log-jam at safety. He and/or Michael Thomas also could land on the practice squad this year.

August 21, 2013
49ers notes: Harbaugh solves Mystery of the Black Jersey

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Jim Harbaugh on Wednesday solved the Mystery of the Black Jersey.

For the last two days, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been wearing a black jersey in practice, which typically is worn by someone who is injured or just returning from an injury. Kaepernick, however, is perfectly healthy. Instead, Kaepernick's black jersey is meant to reinforce the rule that the quarterbacks aren't to be hit, which outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks nearly broke in a recent practice.

"Felt like as the defense was running a stunt, and Ahmad came free and was a little too close to Colin," Harbaugh said. "So (the jersey is) a way to re-emphasize to stay away from Colin Kaepernick, so we don't get anything freakish happen in practice."

Harbaugh also used the word "freakish" Friday in explaining why Kaepernick played only four snaps against the Chiefs. "In the second week of preseason we didn't want anything freakish to happen to him," he said.

Kaepernick said he didn't know whether the odd-colored jersey - it has a red No. 7 - made the defense more cautious or not. All he knows is that he doesn't want special treatment. "I'm not a fan of the jersey," he said.

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Kaepernick received special praise today from former quarterback Ron Jaworski, who on ESPN said the 49ers quarterback "could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. I love his skill set. I think the sky's the limit." Jaworski picked the 49ers to repeat as NFC Champions.

August 21, 2013
Feisty Harbaugh comes to A.J. Jenkins' defense ... again

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For the second time in 13 months, Jim Harbaugh - with zero prompting - defended A.J. Jenkins against a perceived media horde that has been criticizing his former player. Harbaugh was asked whether Jonathan Baldwin, the receiver for whom Jenkins was traded on Monday, could be a starter by Week 1. The answer eventually led to this:

"I know a lot of people have been making some sport of A.J. and Jonathan and my comments and that type of thing," Harbaugh said. "And I really feel the same as I did a year ago when I made those comments. That I don't think it's fair to bully or label a young player. Though I fully understand that people are entitled to their opinion and their perspective.

"However, I prefer that the criticism," Harbaugh continued, his voice rising. "... I would appreciate if the criticism is directed toward me. I'm responsible and I certainly accept that. Actually, I welcome it."

In July last year, Harbaugh stepped to the podium and launched into a passionate defense of Jenkins in which he called out the "scribes, pundits and so-called experts" who had been criticizing the then-49ers rookie. At the time, Harbaugh said anyone who called Jenkins a bust "should just stop. I recommend that because they're making themselves look more clueless than they already did. I'll go on record: A.J. is going to be an outstanding football player."

Harbaugh wasn't finished: "I'm going to keep track of some of these names of the so-called experts who are making these comments and there's going to be an 'I told you so.' I foresee that happening."

Harbaugh has held two press conferences since Jenkins was traded to the Chiefs, and none of the "so-called experts" had asked him about his scolding from a year ago until he brought it up himself today.

August 21, 2013
Pioli: Relationship with Kaepernick will determine Baldwin's fate

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Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli says the key to Jon Baldwin's success lies largely with the person throwing him the ball.

"You can't just throw a guy out there and throw a little magic dust on them and say, 'Hey, this has got to happen,'" said Pioli, who drafted Baldwin 26th overall in 2011. "I think a big part of Jon's development will be how he's used and his whole relationship with Colin."

Colin Kaepernick is Baldwin's fifth starting quarterback in two and half years. Pioli said part of the reason Baldwin never flourished in Kansas City was because the Chiefs had a revolving door of offensive coordinators, receivers coaches and quarterbacks. In the last two years, Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn all started games at quarterback. After winning just two games last season, the Chiefs traded for Alex Smith.

"He works really, really hard at his craft," Pioli said. "What I did a poor job in helping Jon's development was keeping continuity and consistency around him, and that's not Jon's fault. ... Again, I think part of what happens between quarterbacks and receivers is very much chemistry related and repetition related."

Pioli, who is now an NFL analyst for NBC Sports, said he's rooting for Baldwin to succeed in San Francisco and noted that the receiver has all the tools to do so. Baldwin was a basketball star in high school - and was recruited heavily by Jim Harbaugh's brother in law, Tom Crean, at Marquette - and those skills show up on the football field.

"Some guys are big-bodied that don't know how to use their body to create separation," Pioli said. "Jon does know how to create separation by using his body."

As everyone who watched the end of the Super Bowl knows well, the 49ers could stand to improve their red-zone offense this year. Baldwin is over 6-4, has long arms and can leap 42 inches, and he would seem to be an ideal target when the goal line is in sight.

Said Pioli: "He has the tools and the skills to be that player, but again a player's ability in the red zone really plays to the chemistry thing and the trust that a quarterback needs to develop with that receiver."

The regular season begins in less than three weeks, and Kaepernick and Baldwin have practiced together for a grand total of one day. How quickly can that chemistry possibly develop?

It depends on the individuals involved. Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin, for instance, seemed to hit it off immediately. As early as May, it seemed like the two had been playing together for a decade. On the other hand, A.J. Jenkins spent a large chunk of the offseason by Kaepernick's side and a connection never seemed to take hold.

-- Matt Barrows

August 20, 2013
Baldwin has quick first step: He's already sidled up to Anquan Boldin

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Jon Baldwin's first route with the 49ers was a good one. After his initial team meeting with the 49ers today, he made a bee-line to 10-year veteran Anquan Boldin.

"When I was in KC, Steve Breaston was there," Baldwin said after the 49ers' morning walk-through. "He always talked up Anquan Boldin - how smart he was and how he learned some things from him. With that being said, now with me here I should be able to do the same thing and learn a lot from a player that's been in the league and excelled for years and years."

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said seeking out Boldin - as well as Vernon Davis and some other offensive leaders -- was a smart move. "If I was a young player and I didn't do that, I would want somebody to smack me in the head," Roman said.

After being taken with the 26th overall pick in 2011, Baldwin is learning his fourth offense, which may be one of the reasons he never flourished in Kansas City. Like the Chiefs, however, the 49ers run a version of the West Coast offense, which Baldwin said should help him pick things up quickly.

He also said he's looking forward to working with Colin Kaepernick, whose arm strength popped out to him during pre-game warm-ups Friday in Kansas City.

"I was talking to some of the other (Chiefs) receivers about it, and they were saying, "Yeah, (Kaepernick) does throw a pretty good ball,'" Baldwin said. "And then two or three days later, I'm here. So it's kind of funny how things work out."

Baldwin said he caught perhaps 15 passes from Kaepernick in the morning session. He has been issued No. 84, which was worn last year by Randy Moss.

-- Matt Barrows

August 20, 2013
Where things stand at WR after the A.J. Jenkins trade

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A week ago, I wrote an item on where things stood for the 11 wide receivers on the 49ers roster. There's been a bit of news since then, so it makes sense to update the situation.

The 49ers will go into the season with five or six receivers on the active roster. In 2011, the number was five. In 2012, it was six. They also have two additional receivers, Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree, who are expected to come off the physically unable to perform list and onto the 53-man roster at some point this season. That suggests that there might be five receivers on Sept. 8.

Jim Harbaugh on Sunday said that Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore occupy the first three spots. Quinton Patton finally has been cleared to catch passes after a Colt McCoy throw - yes, that surprised me, too - broke his forefinger just before training camp began. The 49ers are eager to see what they have in the fourth-round pick, and it's unlikely he will be cut. That's four receivers.

The fifth has to be Jon Baldwin. Yes, there was a question as to whether A.J. Jenkins, the player the 49ers exchanged for Baldwin, would have made the team. But the 49ers had reached a conclusion about Jenkins - he was not going to help them in the rugged NFC West this year.

Baldwin, on the other hand, is a 6-4, 230-pound mystery at the moment. What's more, the 49ers only have 11 days before they must trim their roster to 53 players. That's not enough time to fully evaluate Baldwin, which means he's likely to make the squad. (Though he may be inactive early in the season). His $1.061 million salary also is fully guaranteed, which is another reason to keep him aboard. That's five receivers.

If they keep six, Austin Collie, Chad Hall and Kassim Osgood all can make good arguments. Collie has been a productive receiver in a good offense in Indianapolis but is not yet 100 percent after missing most of last season with a knee injury.

August 19, 2013
Eric Reid likely to start Sunday; is Asomugha gaining ground?

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Vic Fangio today said that first-round draft pick Eric Reid likely will make his first start at free safety Sunday against the Vikings and that there's also been some recent separation in the competition to replace injured Chris Culliver as the No. 3 cornerback.

That's been a two-man battle between Tramaine Brock and Nnamdi Asomugha. Brock got the first chance to seize the role, but it's been Asomugha who has looked good in recent practices and in Friday's game in Kansas City. Fangio would not say which cornerback had the lead, but he did compliment Asomugha earlier in the press conference when asked about a deep-ball attempt from Alex Smith to then-Chiefs wideout Jon Baldwin when Asomugha was in coverage.

"He was in good shape there and our free safety, C.J. (Spillman), was in good shape in the middle of the field and the quarterback overthrew it," Fangio said. "But we were in good position there. We had a chance to make the play if the ball were thrown better."

Fangio said the 49ers would keep five or six cornerbacks on the active roster. When asked how Eric Wright, who is on the non-football injury/illness list figures into that mix, Fangio said, "I have no idea."

Wright has yet to join the team. "You guys know as much about that as I do to be honest with you," Fangio said.

Reid, meanwhile, has played well in two preseason games and he saw some action against the Chiefs' first-string unit. Craig Dahl has been the starter until now, but Fangio said Reid "probably" would play with the first-string defense against Minnesota.

"He's close," Fangio said of Reid taking over the starting job. "He's done well all camp. We'll probably start him in this game coming up and see how he does with that."

Said Reid: "My goal every day is just to get better at something. And that's something that Nnamdi talked about today at practice: As long as you focus on getting better at one thing a day, it accumulates. And that's what I've been trying to do and hopefully that's leading me into getting a starting job."

-- Matt Barrows

August 19, 2013
Vernon Davis to A.J. Jenkins: Take it up a notch

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There were the expected platitudes about wishing A.J. Jenkins the best, insisting that he is a promising football player and hoping that he succeeds in Kansas City. But the one 49er who came the closest to hitting the truth about why the team's former first-round pick failed in San Francisco was Vernon Davis.

Just a few days ago, Davis offered his support to Jenkins. When asked which of the team's wideouts have stood out aside from Anquan Boldin, Davis zeroed in on one, Jenkins, saying that he thought he had potential. "It's just taking him a little time, but he will get there." Davis said one week ago. "And I think he will be prepared by the start of the season."

Today Davis was asked what he'd tell Jenkins to do differently in Kansas City.

"Maybe take his approach toward the game up a notch," Davis said. "I think that might be something he can benefit from. Just take his approach up a little bit more. Go above and beyond being a professional."

Are you talking about intensity?

"Not on the field. Not his game," Davis said. "I'm just talking away from the game. As far as studying habits - I think he had good study habits when he was here. Studying, being a professional, trying to help himself as well as helping other guys, the younger guys that come in. And just owning his position, embracing it and just going to the next level. ... If he really wants it inside his heart, it will work out for him. It will pay dividends."

-- Matt Barrows

August 19, 2013
On paper, Baldwin everything 49ers seeking in a starting WR

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Jon Baldwin stands over 6-4, weighs 230 pounds, has a 42-inch vertical leap and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds in 2011. You can see why the Chiefs used a first-round pick on him that year and why the 49ers feel he just might be a fit in their still-fuzzy receiving corps.

"If he works out, they've got a huge receiving group," NFL Films' Greg Cosell said of Baldwin and the team's only sure-fire starter, Anquan Boldin, who weighs 220 pounds. Cosell suspects that the always-serious and ultra professional Boldin was one of the reasons the 49ers decided to trade for Baldwin: The 24-year-old receiver is full of talent but could use a strong mentor.

"When I watched him on film coming out of Pitt, he looked like he could be a Vincent Jackson-type receiver," Cosell said. "He's a big, physical kid who moves well."

Cosell, of course, noted that Baldwin never flourished in Kansas City. His game against the 49ers Friday was a microcosm of his career. He had one blatant drop of an Alex Smith pass. He stumbled on Smith's only deep attempt of the evening and the throw fell incomplete.

If it wasn't clear before, it's in neon lights now - A.J. Jenkins was not one of the top six wide receivers on the 49ers training camp roster and his chances of making the team were dubious. The question now becomes, will Baldwin's future be any better?

August 19, 2013
49ers send A.J. Jenkins to Kansas City for Jon Baldwin

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A.J. Jenkins and the Chiefs' Jon Baldwin were two of the big storylines from Friday's game in Kansas City because both continued to be disappointments with their respective teams. Now they'll both try to start over with the opposite team.

The Chiefs today were the first to announce they had traded Baldwin, the 26th overall pick in the 2011 draft, for Jenkins, the 30th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Baldwin (6-4, 230) started 10 games the last two seasons in Kansas City and caught 41 passes for 579 yards and two touchdowns.

"We would like to thank A.J. for his efforts as a member of the 49ers and wish him all the best with the Kansas City Chiefs," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said a few minutes later in a statement. "We are pleased to add Jonathan to our team and look forward to incorporating him into our offense. Both players have been presented a great opportunity for a new beginning with their respective teams."

August 18, 2013
Race to be Kaepernick's backup grows crowded after Daniels' debut

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The race is on to be Colin Kaepernick's backup this season.

Jim Harbaugh today said that rookie B.J. Daniels' practice repetitions would increase this week so that they are in line with those of Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien, who had been getting more snaps. Daniels, a seventh-round pick out of South Florida, had been getting some work at quarterback but also had been used as a running back, wide receiver and punt returner.

Asked if he was now a quarterback rather than an all-purpose player, Daniels said, "I've been playing quarterback all my life. So that's what I've always considered myself to be."

While McCoy and Tolzien struggled Friday in Kansas City - largely against the Chiefs starters -- Daniels threw the game's only offensive touchdown when he hit fellow rookie Chuck Jacobs on a nice, 14-yard touch pass in the fourth quarter against Kansas City's reserve defense. Daniels finished 6-9 for 72 yards and had a 128 passer rating.

"It was an encouraging performance, and he's done some encouraging things in practice as well," Harbaugh said. "So he continues on his process and he competed well and made plays. As far as it stands for him, it was encouraging. And when somebody does a good job you give them a little more."

McCoy, meanwhile, threw an interception while Tolzien nearly threw two. Both passes were dropped by Chiefs cornerback Dunta Robinson.

The 49ers traded fifth- and seventh-round picks in this year's draft to Cleveland for McCoy and a sixth-round pick. McCoy, a former Browns starter who is in the final year of his contract, has a 25.3 passer rating through two preseason games. Tolzien's is 56.9.

- Matt Barrows

August 18, 2013
No Mario Manningham until late October at the earliest

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The 49ers won't see receiver Mario Manningham in the lineup until mid October at the earliest.

Jim Harbaugh today said that Manningham will remain on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to start the season, which means he only can begin practicing with the team after Week 6. The soonest he can play in a game is Oct. 20 against the Titans in Nashville. Manningham is recovering from an ACL injury suffered in Seattle on Dec. 23.

"It's going very well," Harbaugh said of Manningham's recovery. " ... He's really feeling now that he can put his leg in the ground and generate some power. It's exciting, and he's excited about it."

Harbaugh said the team also was encouraged by Michael Crabtree's rehabilitation from a May 21 Achilles' heel injury. The 49ers expect Crabtree to return at some point this season. The earliest an athlete who suffered a full tear like Crabtree can be expected back on the field is about six months. That means he could be back as early as November, although the team is likely to ease the receiver back into action as cautiously as possible.

"He's hit every single goal as far as his timeline," Harbaugh said of Crabtree. "That's been real exciting and encouraging."

Like Manningham, Crabtree will begin the season on the PUP list. Players on PUP cannot practice or play for the first six weeks. After Week 6 and continuing through Week 11, there's a three-week window during which they can join practice. If the 49ers feel the player is healthy at that point, he can be moved to the active, 53-man roster.

- Matt Barrows

August 18, 2013
Harbaugh on A.J. Jenkins: 'The best players make the team'

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Jim Harbaugh today said the 49ers will place wide receiver A.J. Jenkins "in some additional roles" this week, specifically kick returner. Jenkins has taken more snaps in the last two preseason games (77) than any other 49ers wide receiver but only has one catch, and he fumbled immediately after that reception.

Harbaugh did not say whether Jenkins' offensive snap count would diminish, but the fact that the 49ers want to see what he can do on special teams implies the coaching staff is trying to figure out the former first-round pick's value.

Indeed, many of the receivers with whom Jenkins is competing for a roster spot have special teams value, including Kyle Williams and Chad Hall, both of whom also can return punts, as well as Marlon Moore and Kassim Osgood, who can play on coverage units.

The team's unofficial depth chart lists LaMichael James, Williams, Hall and Perrish Cox as the kick returners. Jenkins returned 38 kickoff in three seasons at Illinois and had a 96-yard return for a touchdown as a freshman in 2008.

Asked if Jenkins' draft status or the salary-cap ramifications of cutting him factor in as far as whether he makes the team, Harbaugh said, "Things factor in, but it's longstanding -- football hasn't changed since the inception. The best players make the team."

August 17, 2013
Film review: Haralson, Cox stand out, Asomugha tested deep; was Jenkins open?

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There's no overstating how well the 49ers reserve defense did against the Chiefs starters Friday night in Kansas City. Ok, that performance is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the Chiefs are learning a new offense, they have a new quarterback and were playing without tailback Jamaal Charles. But the Chiefs starters did well in the preseason opener against the Saints and sputtered throughout the first half against, briefly, the 49ers' first-string defense and then the reserves,

Healthy again, Parys Haralson was one of the stand-out stars of the game, and he did well against No. 1 overall draft pick Eric Fisher. Haralson finished with a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, three tackles, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery. Not a bad stat sheet.

Perrish Cox had two sacks out of the slot position while Michael Wilhoite and rookie Corey Lemonier had strong games just like last week.

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A host of 49ers got their hands on Alex Smith, including Cox, Haralson, Lemonier, Dan Skuta, Eric Reid and, of course, Tony Jerod-Eddie, who was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit. After the game, Jerod-Eddie said he was aiming for the strike zone - the area above the knees to an opponent's shoulder - and that Smith ducked his head at the last second, which caused the helmet-to-helmet contact.

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Jim Harbaugh said he thought receiver A.J. Jenkins had a step on cornerback Sean Smith on the throw that turned out to be an interception. If he did, it was a slight step. Maybe if Colt McCoy had lofted the ball well ahead of the pair, Jenkins would have increased his lead on the bigger Smith. But the pass was underthrown, which gave Jenkins no chance to make a play.

August 17, 2013
Snap judgments: Dahl starts but Reid gets snaps vs. Chiefs first string

Craig Dahl started at free safety for the 49ers in Kansas City, but Eric Reid played the most snaps at the position, 41, many of them against the Chiefs' first-string offense. Reid is one of several players to put a hit on Alex Smith. With the Chiefs facing third and 3 at the SF 4-yard line, Reid burst through the middle on a blitz, forcing Smith to rush his pass to the running back. It was incomplete.

Starting is a double-edged sword for the 49ers this preseason. It's fine if you're an established starter. But if you're someone fighting for a bigger role this year, it meant you watched most of the game. Marlon Moore, for example, started the game at receiver. He played four snaps while A.J. Jenkins and Chad Hall each had 38 snaps. Jenkins had 39 snaps against Denver.

The status quo did not change much at receiver from the Broncos game. The same two players, Anquan Boldin and Marlon Moore, started the game, and players entered in roughly the same order they did last Thursday. Austin Collie, who looked good in practices, again entered the game late. He played 21 snaps.

Offense

Wide receiver
Chad Hall 38
A.J. Jenkins 38
Ricardo Lockette 24
Austin Collie 21
Chuck Jacobs 20
Kassim Osgood 16
Lavelle Hawkins 13
Anquan Boldin 4
Marlon Moore 4 

Quarterback
B.J. Daniels 24
Colt McCoy 23
Scott Tolzien 19
Colin Kaepernick 4 

August 16, 2013
49ers notes: Harbaugh says A.J. Jenkins did "okay"

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Receiver A.J. Jenkins played into the third quarter in Friday's exhibition win over the Chiefs but did not have a catch.

He was targeted twice, and like last week a long pass attempt from Colt McCoy to Jenkins resulted in an easy interception by the opposition. McCoy tried to hit Jenkins streaking down the sideline, but the receiver was blanketed by big cornerback Sean Smith, who picked off the pass.

Jim Harbaugh said he thought Jenkins had a step on Smith on the play and that McCoy's throw "should have been out in front of him, not over the back shoulder." Said Harbaugh of Jenkins: "I thought he did okay."

Like last week, Anquan Boldin and Marlon Moore (Natomas High) started at wide receiver but left the game after the opening series. Chad Hall played one more snap than Jenkins and was the only wide receiver to make a catch, a 21 yarder from Scott Tolzien, in the first half.

Jenkins had a 21-yard completion early in the third quarter, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty against backup center Daniel Kilgore.

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Craig Dahl started his second straight game at free safety alongside Donte Whitner. Dahl, first-round draft pick Eric Reid, C.J. Spillman and Trenton Robinson had been alternating practice repetitions with the first-team defense in training camp.

August 16, 2013
Backup plan? Rookie Daniels upstages Alex Smith, fellow reserve QBs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 49ers gave Alex Smith warm handshakes before and after Friday's game and a barrage of big hits during it.

Along with the rest of the Chiefs starters, Smith played through the first half and was greeted by safety and cornerback blitzes as well as a crown-of-the-helmet hit that resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty against the 49ers.

Smith left his first game as Chiefs starter at Arrowhead Stadium having completed 7-16 passes -- three of them were dropped -- for 62 yards and 54.7 passer rating. For most of the half, he was pitted against San Francisco's reserves. The 49ers defense did not allow a touchdown for the second straight week.

The overriding feeling from both Smith and the 49ers about the encounter -- it felt odd.

"It was definitely, definitely different," Smith said. "I mean, those are guys that I played a long time with and got to know really well. It was weird facing them."

Said Jim Harbaugh: "It felt a lot like going against my brother, which I've had the opportunity to do. ... This was personal in the best kind of way."

Said running back Frank Gore: "It was strange."

While Smith and the quarterback who took his job last year, Colin Kaepernick, were the game's headliners, it was an undercard quarterback, B.J. Daniels, who had the best performance.

August 16, 2013
Halftime: Offense, special teams sputter, defense rough on Alex Smith

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One of the 49ers' offseason tasks was to bolster a special teams allowed a 108-yard kickoff return to open the second half of the Super Bowl. On Friday, the revamped unit allowed a 104-yard touchdown five minutes into the game, one of several miscues in a sloppy first half for the 49ers, who trail 13-6.

Punter Andy Lee's first punt shanked off the side of his foot and there were two penalties on 49ers punts. Return man LaMichael James had to dive to secure the first Chiefs punt despite the lack of wind at Arrowhead Stadium.

The good news: Phil Dawson struck both of his field-goal attempts, including one from 55 yards.

There also were mistakes on offense.

For the second straight game, a deep pass from Colt McCoy to A.J. Jenkins resulted in an easy interception for the opposition. McCoy tried to hit Jenkins streaking down the sideline, but the receiver was blanketed by big cornerback Sean Smith, who picked off the pass. Jenkins played 31 snaps. Chad Hall was in on 32 plays and was the only wide receiver on both teams to make a catch, a 21 yarder from Tolzien late in the second quarter

August 16, 2013
Rookie WR Quinton Patton, Staley in uniform for 49ers

****UPDATE**** Wide receivers Quinton Patton and Kyle Williams changed into street clothes after warmups and will not play in the game.

Fourth-round draft pick Quinton Patton, who missed the 49ers preseason opener with a finger injury, is in uniform today against the Chiefs.

Patton damaged the forefinger on his left hand before training camp opened, and while he has been able to run routes at practice he was instructed not to catch passes. Patton had been practicing with the finger heavily wrapped, but it appears to be free of any extra protection today.

Patton ostensibly is one of the players competing for a role at wideout opposite Anquan Boldin this season. Jim Harbaugh has been complimentary of the rookie despite the fact that he has not been able to practice in full to this point. All 11 of the 49ers' healthy wideouts are in uniform for pre-game warmups. Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham remain on the physically unable to perform list.

Left tackle Joe Staley also is in uniform. Staley missed four practices going back to last week with an undisclosed injury. He has been on hand for the last two sessions. It remains to be seen whether either player -- and others in uniform, such as running back Frank Gore -- plays against the Chiefs.

-- Matt Barrows

August 16, 2013
Live chat replay: 49ers prepare to face Alex Smith

The 49ers get to play against their one-time leader, quarterback Alex Smith, who now runs plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. Matt Barrows answered questions today in an 11 a.m. chat.


August 15, 2013
Small-hands Smith: How a myth is born ... and never dies

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Alex Smith doesn't have small hands. When it comes to American males, his 9 3/8-inch mitts are rather large. And he's right around the average for NFL quarterbacks. Joe Flacco's, for instance, are 9 5/8 inches. Aaron Rodgers' measure in at 9 3/8 inches just like Smith's.

But things like "facts" and "measurements" and "data" have not sunk the myth that Smith has teeny, tiny porcelain doll's hands because, well, because it's hilarious. Even his family thinks so.

"It's still a family joke," Smith said Wednesday. "My little sister still calls me 'small hands.' It won't ever die. If hands come up as a topic, someone's going to make a crack."

The small-hands myth dates back to Smith's rookie season when he fumbled 11 times in nine games. There were several instances -- especially in Seattle and Washington -- when he lost the handle without even getting hit. He simply couldn't maintain his grip through the throwing motion. Which begged the question, "Does this guy have the hands of an otter or what?"

Back then, however, the opposing team handled all footballs used in games. And they would send in, perhaps strategically, balls straight out of the box that still had a sheen of waterproofing that made them hard and extremely slick. The following offseason, a group of veteran quarterbacks led by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady petitioned the league to allow both teams to supply balls that had been scuffed up, worn in and had a better grip.

"I haven't had any slip out since -- knock on wood," Smith said. "But ever since that all came up it's been this 'hands' thing."

Further proof that Smith has a good sense of humor: He let me take the above photo. I told him I'd caption it: 'Wow, look how much Smith's hands have grown since he left SF!'

-- Matt Barrows

August 14, 2013
Alex Smith is learning from Kaepernick's old coach; "Very ironic," he says

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- If you think Colin Kaepernick is ubiquitous these days, put yourself in Alex Smith's shoes. Not only is Kaepernick seated in the front row at award shows, featured in national ad campaigns and splashed across magazine covers, he's been making regular appearances in Smith's film study.

One of the Chiefs' new hires this year is Chris Ault, the former Nevada coach who invented the Pistol formation and perfected it when Kaepernick was the Wolfpack quarterback. Smith said Ault, who was brought in as a consultant, hangs out with the him and the other Kansas City quarterbacks "all day, every day."

"Very ironic," Smith says of the situation, wry smile on his face. "It's great to have him, though. Extremely knowledgeable. We talk a lot, all the time."

So, uh, how much does Ault bring up his former protege? "Yeah, we talk about Kap, for sure," Smith said. "We watch spread option stuff of Kap, or RG III a lot. Some Nevada film for sure."

Rest assured, there is no resentment from the new Chiefs quarterback toward his one-time 49ers understudy. He sat down for a half hour chat with The Merc's Cam Inman and me after the Chiefs afternoon walk-through at their training-camp home in St. Joseph today and talked about a range of issues, from Kansas City coach Andy Reid's similarities to Jim Harbaugh, to his lowest moment with the 49ers to the "small hands" jokes that have followed him - and will continue to follow him - for the rest of his life.

There were no hard edges with Smith. He was happy, at ease and enjoying his chance to help rebuild another storied franchise that's fallen on tough times, albeit one that is not nearly as terrible as the 49ers squad he took over in 2005.

Some highlights:

Was it evident right away you were in a good situation in Kansas City?
AS: Yeah, for sure. It's kind of a feeling, really. It's hard to describe. I think it's a healthy work environment. Just creating a healthy work environment where guys can come to work, do their job and the environment is to get better, that we're going to get better together. You don't have the finger-pointing and you don't have guys afraid to make mistakes. You come to work, it's a healthy environment and guys come in to work and get taught how to do it better. I think you can see that right away."

August 14, 2013
NFL suspends 49ers' Demarcus Dobbs one game

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Demarcus Dobbs, who will serve as Justin Smith's primary backup this season at right defensive end, will miss the first game of the season after violating the league's policy on substance abuse. Dobbs was arrested last season for marijuana possession after he was involved in a single-car accident near the 49ers' training facility in Santa Clara.

Dobbs, 25, will be eligible to return to the 49ers' active roster on Monday, September 9 following the team's September 8 game against the Packers. Dobbs is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.

A statement from general manager Trent Baalke said: "The San Francisco 49ers organization supports the NFL's code of conduct policy and their recent decision regarding Demarcus."

Dobbs was arrested for marijuana possession and suspicion of DUI in November after crashing his car on San Tomas Expressway in Santa Clara. He was not injured in the accident, and no one else was in the car. Dobbs did not make the trip that week to St. Louis.

While Dobbs has been Justin Smith's primary backup this offseason, other players like Will Tukuafu, Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey also could step in at the position this year. Tony Jerod-Eddie and Lawrence Okoye likely will play there Friday against the Chiefs.

-- Matt Barrows

August 13, 2013
Training camp D15: Rare fight breaks out; Jenkins has solid session

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Training-camp fights are commonplace in the NFL, but they've been rare in Santa Clara since Jim Harbaugh took over. The 49ers had their first of the 2013 session today, which is noteworthy in itself, and it's even more so because it was between players who belong to the same position group, safeties Michael Thomas and C.J. Spillman.

The two tangled at the end of a running play. Thomas was lined up at safety at the time; it was not clear whether Spillman had been on the field for that play. They were wrestling with each other on the ground when others, including Harbaugh and receiver Ricardo Lockette, dove in to break it up. Spillman was sent to the locker room. Thomas, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford, continued to practice.

Spillman is one of the four safeties in the running to be the starter at free safety. (Although everyone believes that first-round draft pick Eric Reid eventually will win that job). Thomas is a backup safety who also is the third-string nickel cornerback. Ironically, he had to fill in at safety for Spillman's absence. When that occurred, the 49ers were short a nickel cornerback. So receiver Chad Hall quickly changed his jersey from white to red and jumped in and played defense.

Last year, Harbaugh yanked receiver Kyle Williams out of practice after a scuffle with rookie cornerback Deante' Purvis. Harbaugh also banished receiver Brian Tyms last year after he took down Trenton Robinson on a special teams play. Harbaugh's mantra is that players should be looking out for one another in practice not trying to injury them. He scolded running back Anthony Dixon on Monday for a hard hit on Robinson.

It could be that tempers are a bit frayed given how long they've been in training camp. Tomorrow is the 49ers' final true practice before camp ends.

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After Monday's catchless outing, receiver A.J. Jenkins had a solid showing today. He caught three passes during team drills, although he was out of bounds when he hauled in one of them. Jenkins' best catch was a contested throw over the middle against undrafted cornerback Darryl Morris, who was Jenkins' nemesis a day earlier. Contested throws have been Jenkins' bane, so it was a positive step that he outfought the cornerback for the ball today.

August 13, 2013
Speed and grit paying off so far for WR Marlon Moore

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When training camp began last month, Marlon Moore figured his route to making the roster was through special teams. After all, that's how he lasted three seasons with the Dolphins.

But in his first-ever game with the 49ers on Thursday, Moore didn't play special teams. Instead he started the game at wideout opposite Anquan Boldin, played eight snaps and, along with the rest of the starters, watched the game on the sideline from the middle of the first quarter onward.

Moore today admitted it was a bit of a mixed blessing. "Because like I said, I like to play special teams," he said. "I love just playing football period. And not being able to be in and contribute during that time of the game it kind of hurt me. But at the same time, I was like, 'Alright, maybe they're recognizing something about me.' So I just have to take it and keep pressing forward."

Along with Chad Hall, the Sacramento native has been the most consistent wide receiver this offseason, and that's what earned him a starting role against the Broncos. Moore has been durable, he's made gritty catches across the middle and he also has the speed to stretch defenses, something the 49ers are seeking this season.

August 13, 2013
From 11 to six: Where things stand at wide receiver

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All eyes were on the wide receiver position when the 49ers opened training camp, and the glare only has intensified in the three weeks since. Here's my best guess/analysis on where things stand at the position.

In my mind, there are three locks for the 53-man squad. Anquan Boldin obviously is one of them. He's the only reliable, veteran option, and he and Colin Kaepernick already have established a strong rapport. The 49ers should send Boldin on a three-week Viking Cruise to the fjords of western Norway to ensure he's healthy for the season opener. Welcome back! Here's the game plan for Green Bay ....

The other two locks, according to me, are Kyle Williams and Quinton Patton. No, Patton hasn't gotten to show off his skills because of a broken forefinger (Damn you, Kaepernick fastball!), but as Jim Harbaugh says, the arrow is up for this eager, hard-working youngster. Williams, meanwhile, is smart, savvy and badly wants to be on the field. He's also the only player on the team with any real experience at punt returner. The 49ers want LaMichael James to win that job, but it's smart to have a capable backup.

Ok, that's three players. The 49ers likely will go into the season with five or six receivers on the roster. They had six at the start of last season, for example. For the sake of argument, let's say that Mario Manningham (knee) and Michael Crabtree (Achilles') remain on the physically unable to perform list at the start of the season. If that's the case, they will not count against the 53-man limit. Still, the team expects both to be activated at some point during the year.

Who gets the last few spots? Both Marlon Moore and Kassim Osgood have been consistently good on offense and both have true added value as coverage guys on special teams. Would they keep both players given their overlapping talents? Maybe. But if they had to choose one, my guess is that they'd go with Moore, who is considerably younger (and because of that has more upside) and who is faster, a better downfield threat and thus a better complement to Boldin.

August 12, 2013
Training camp D14: A.J. Jenkins goes deep and ... and ...

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It looked like it had the potential to change the script for A.J. Jenkins, who is badly in need of some positive momentum and confidence. The speedy wide receiver was lined up far to the left of Colin Kaepernick in today's afternoon practice and took off down field on a post pattern. He had a step on undrafted rookie cornerback Darryl Morris, and Kaepernick let fly a pass that traveled 45 yards down field. At the last moment, however, Morris accelerated and batted away the ball for an incompletion.

It certainly wasn't an indictment of Jenkins. Morris made a nice play. But the besieged 49ers receiver went through the practice session without catching a pass in 11-on-11 or team drills. Another deep pass from Kaepernick - with Morris in coverage - was too deep and incomplete.

In the week leading up to Thursday's game, Jenkins got more practice snaps than any other wide receiver and he was in on more plays - 39 - than any of the other receivers against Denver. What's notable is that those opportunities have been curtailed over the last two practices as previously injured players like Kyle Williams and Kassim Osgood get worked into the mix and newcomers like Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins get more snaps.

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There's a nice competition going on between rookie cornerbacks Morris and Marcus Cooper, one of whom promises to make the practice squad if not one of the last spots on the 53-man squad. Both were part of the look team, which went up against Kaepernick and the other offensive starters this afternoon.

August 12, 2013
Which WRs do you like? Vernon Davis changes answer

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When Vernon Davis was asked two weeks ago which wide receivers have caught his eye in practice, he had a list of nominees.

"I really like Chad (Hall)," he said. "Chad is quick, he's fast. He's doing everything that the coaches are asking him to do, and he comes to work. Ricardo Lockette - fast receiver, talented. I mean, he's just blessed with tons of talent. It's going to take him some time, but he's learning. But I think once he gets it, he's going to excel and he's going to be a tremendous player. I really like Kyle Williams. We all know about Kyle Williams, we know what he can do. He's a vet, a lot of experience. And he's ready to go. A.J. Jenkins - A.J., he's coming along. He's making some smooth transitions as far as being that elite receiver that they want. And I believe in him. I believe in him. By the time the season comes around, he'll be one of those guys (who are) ready to step in and fill the void."

Asked the same question today, Davis had winnowed that list to one. "I really like A.J. Jenkins," Davis said. "He's got a lot of potential. He's still learning the game .... . He has all the potential to do it. It's just taking him a little time, but he will get there. And I think he will be prepared by the start of the season."

Jenkins' had a rough outing Thursday night against Denver. Two of the three passes that went his way resulted in turnovers - a fumble by Jenkins and an overthrow by Colt McCoy. The second-year player has been besieged by criticism with many wondering whether the team will part ways with the former first-round pick. Jenkins' skill set -- "He's smooth, he's fast and he wants to succeed," Davis said -- is undeniable. But so is the fact that Jenkins has been inconsistent this offseason.

It's hard to say whether Davis truly believes in Jenkins or feels duty-bound to defend a beleaguered teammate.

- Matt Barrows

August 11, 2013
Training camp D13: Day after dull practice, Kaepernick, Davis, Williams sharp

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Jim Harbaugh was looking for a crisper, sharper practice today after Saturday's slop-fest at Candlestick Park, and he got it. Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis were clicking on the deep pass once again while Kyle Williams also looked good. Williams has been coming back from a hamstring strain and sat out Thursday's preseason opener. Judging from today's practice, he's likely to play - and start? - in Kansas City. Williams caught three passed from Kaepernick, including a deep route down the middle that hit the receiver in stride.

One of Kaepernick's deep throws to Davis was the same type of corner, post-route that has been so effective in earlier practices this summer. The duo beat cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Craig Dahl on the play. The second one was one of the most impressive throws of camp. It traveled about 40 yards and victimized inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite, who was covering Davis off the line of scrimmage, and safety Donte Whitner, who had him deep. What stood out is that the ball never got above nine feet off the ground. It was an absolute laser-cannon-frozen-rope that Davis snagged just above his head.

A.J. Jenkins had been taking the lion's share of the practice when it comes to the wideouts. However, he had a quiet afternoon today. He caught one short pass along the sideline late in practice.

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The best catch of the day was turned in not by a wideout or tight end but by running back Frank Gore. During a red-zone drill, Kaepernick was flushed to his right and looked like he would have to run, at full sprint, out of bounds. At the last moment, he flung the ball into the end zone and Gore, also running to his right, made a diving catch.

August 11, 2013
Alex who? 49ers downplay upcoming reunion with one-time teammate

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Alex who? The 49ers will face a very familiar foe Friday in Kansas City, but players and coaches alike today said they'd treat the new Chiefs quarterback like any other preseason adversary.

"He's a nameless, faceless opponent," said offensive coordinator Greg Roman of new Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Roman had a smile on his face and then elaborated a bit. "Loved working with Alex," he continued. "I'm very happy for Alex and his success and very appreciative of all the contributions he made as a 49er."

The 49ers traded Smith, their former No. 1 overall draft pick and longtime starter, to Kansas City in the offseason for two draft picks. Like the player who took his job in San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick, Smith had a very good opening drive in his initial preseason game.

Against the Saints, he drove the Chiefs 80 yards before Jamaal Charles scored a rushing touchdown. Smith was 7-8 for 68 yards, was sacked once and had a 102.1 passer rating before heading to the sideline. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that Smith and the other starters likely will play longer in Friday's game against the 49ers.

In two seasons with San Francisco, outside linebacker Aldon Smith never was allowed to touch Smith and the other quarterbacks in practice. What happens Friday? "Alex gets touched, right?" Aldon Smith said.

The team's outside linebacker, who got a glove on Peyton Manning Thursday for the first time in his career, downplayed the reunion with Smith. The game is a bigger deal for him, he said, because he's playing in his native Missouri and will have friends and family in the stands.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, the 49ers have a rooting interest in Smith and the Chiefs this year. They received Kansas City's second-round pick this year for Smith. They also will get a second-round pick in the 2014 draft if the Chiefs finish .500 or better. If Kansas City has a losing season, the 49ers will be compensated with a third-round pick.

The best possible scenario for the 49ers: The Chiefs finish 8-8.

-- Matt Barrows

August 11, 2013
Harbaugh envisions more work for WRs Collie, Hawkins

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Jim Harbaugh said he expected a bigger practice workload this week for his two newcomer receivers, Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins. Both were signed on Aug. 2 and have been worked into the ends of practices and the end of Thursday's preseason game. Neither has received any extensive work with starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick to this point.

"I think they will this week, yes," Harbaugh said of increased work. "Pleased with what they're doing, definitely. They're studying hard, working hard to get out there and chomping at the bit to be out there."

Getting every receiver quality snaps will be difficult. The 49ers have 11 wideouts on the active roster right now. One of them, rookie Quinton Patton, remains in a blue, non-contact jersey due to a broken finger. But Patton seems poised to rejoin practice in full soon. He's been instructed not to catch passes with the injured hand but made several -- including on a deep pattern -- in Saturday's FanFest session by catching them with his good, right hand.

Meanwhile, former first-round pick A.J. Jenkins has been getting more snaps than any other receiver, both in practices and in the preseason game. He was in on 39 plays Thursday against the Broncos, 11 more than the second-most active wideout, Chad Hall, and 31 more than starter Marlon Moore.

Finally, Harbaugh said that Collie still has been advised not to go full bore in practice. He is coming off a torn patella tendon that cost him the 2012 season. Collie has looked smooth in recent practices and has reported no problems. But the 49ers remain wary of him going at top speed.

"I think coming of of serious leg injuries, you've got to be conscious of not bursting and not hitting that top gear just yet," Harbaugh said. "So it's a progression."

-- Matt Barrows

August 10, 2013
Harbaugh: Hunter won't be handed back his old job

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Kendall Hunter received a short but heartfelt ovation from the 49ers' offensive line when he trotted into the field during 11-on-11 drills Saturday. After all, it had been eight and a half months since the lineman had seen the running back in a huddle. "Everybody was glad to see me back out there," Hunter said afterward. "And it's a good chemistry there."

Hunter, 24, was the team's No. 2 running back when he went down with an Achilles' tear Nov. 25, and he was averaging an impressive 5.2 yards a carry. Jim Harbaugh said he thought Hunter eventually would retain that job, but that it wouldn't happen automatically. Hunter was eased into practice Saturday, and Harbaugh said he'd have to fight off LaMichael James, who took over the No. 2 spot in Hunter's absence

"He definitely has been on it as far as his assignments - very attentive at meetings," Harbaugh said. "... But whenever you're coming off any injury, you've got to prove that you're back to 100 percent. And also you've got to better than other people. But we all know what Kendall's about, and I think things will go well for him."

Hunter will be added to a backfield that includes starter Frank Gore, James, Anthony Dixon, undrafted rookie D.J. Harper and Jewel Hampton. James started Thursday's preseason opener -- and averaged 3.4 yards a carry -- with Dixon and Harper also seeing action at tailback. Harper's second-quarter fumble led to the only touchdown of the game. Hampton did not take any offensive snaps and did not take part in Saturday's practice due to a minor injury.

The 49ers now have two players on the physically unable to perform list, receivers Mario Manningham (ACL) and Michael Crabtree. Crabtree completely tore his Achilles' on May 21. He is currently on schedule to return to the field in late November or December.

The same surgeons who operated on Hunter's Achilles' handled Crabtree's procedure and Hunter said Crabtree is continually asking him questions about the rehabilitation process. "We talk every day," Hunter said. "It's good to have somebody that's been through that. He sees me back on the field and it's motivation for him to work harder."

-- Matt Barrows

August 10, 2013
Training camp D12: Harbaugh not happy with "raggedy" effort; Goodwin, Justin Smith return

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The 49ers' annual FanFest at Candlestick Park ended on a botched quarterback-center exchange, which was an appropriate finale. The only public session of training camp was marked by bad snaps, dropped passes and false starts, and Jim Harbaugh called it the most "raggedy" practice of the summer.

"Wherever we practice, what you want to see is a good practice," Harbaugh said. "This definitely was a raggedy practice offensively. Not pleased about that. ... We'll look for a better one tomorrow."

One of the issues may have been that Jonathan Goodwin, who missed the last week of practices with an undisclosed injury, was back at center today and may have been rusty. Still, his backup, Daniel Kilgore, also had a bad snap or two, including the one that ended practice.

Several notable players did not make the 40-mile trip from Santa Clara. That group included left tackle Joe Staley, cornerback Tarell Brown, running back Jewel Hampton and safety Ray Ventrone. Harbaugh said those players were "working through something" but that the injuries weren't serious. Hampton did not play in Thursday's preseason opener.

August 10, 2013
Achilles' healed: 49ers activate Kendall Hunter

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The 49ers today moved Kendall Hunter from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster. Hunter had been rehabilitating from an Achilles' tear suffered in New Orleans on Nov. 25.

He was the team's No. 2 running back and had been averaging an impressive 5.2 yards a carry prior to the injury. He'll now rejoin a crowded backfield that includes starter Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon, undrafted rookie D.J. Harper and Jewel Hampton. James started Thursday's preseason opener -- and averaged 3.4 yards a carry -- with Dixon and Harper also seeing action at tailback. Harper's second-quarter fumble led to the only touchdown of the game. Hampton did not take any offensive snaps.

The 49ers will hold their only public practice of training camp today at Candlestick Park at 2 p.m. Hunter is expected to be on hand. The 49ers now have two players on the physically unable to perform list, receivers Mario Manningham (ACL) and Michael Crabtree.

Crabtree completely tore his Achilles' on May 21. He is currently on schedule to return to the field in late November or December. The same surgeons who operated on Hunter's Achilles' handled Crabtree's procedure.

-- Matt Barrows

August 9, 2013
Film review: Wilhoite, Cox shine; a closer look at Jenkins' night

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Here are some thoughts and observations after re-watching last night's 49ers-Broncos game:

There's been a lot of chatter about how Vernon Davis will be used more as a wideout this season after Michael Crabtree went down with an Achilles' injury. Well, if that's the case, the 49ers are keeping that formation under wraps in the preseason (and in training camp).

Davis played 13 snaps - including the false-start penalty by Anthony Davis - and he lined up at his familiar spot on the end of the offensive line on 10 of them. On two more, he lined up in the slot, which he's done from time to time in previous seasons (See: game-winning catch; Saints; 1-14-2012). He lined up in the backfield as an H-back on one play.

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Not to belabor poor A.J. Jenkins, but many of you have been asking whether he was open throughout the game and the 49ers' quarterbacks did not look in his direction. The answer is, yes - at times. The 49ers like to drag Jenkins across the field on shallow routes to take advantage of his catch-and-run ability. This is something he did a lot at Illinois.

August 9, 2013
Snap judgments: A.J. Jenkins leads 49ers WRs in opportunities

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The 49ers' wide-receiver breakdown from Thursday's game against the Broncos very much followed the pattern of recent practices. That is, the 49ers are giving A.J. Jenkins every chance possible to seize a big role in the offense this year. Jenkins didn't start. But he was in on the first series of the game and didn't leave until the beginning of the fourth quarter. Every receiver save Lavelle Hawkins finished with more receiving yards than Jenkins' 11. He fumbled on the play.

WR snaps
A.J. Jenkins: 39 snaps, 59 percent of plays
Chad Hall: 28
Chuck Jacobs, 25
Austin Collie 16
Kassim Osgood, 15
Ricardo Lockette, 12
Anquan Boldin, 12
Marlon Moore, 8
Lavelle Hawkins, 7

Two other receivers, Kyle Williams (hamstring) and Quinton Patton (finger), did not suit up for the game. Two more, Mario Manningham (knee) and Michael Crabtree (Achilles'), are on the physically unable to perform list.

Moore started the game opposite Boldin, but his night did not extend beyond the opening drive. He made the most of the one catch that went his way, making a diving 12-yard catch that Jim Harbaugh later described as "spectacular."

August 8, 2013
49ers notes: McCoy suffers stinger; Harbaugh wants more from A.J. Jenkins

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Backup quarterback Colt McCoy will have an MRI on his shoulder and neck Friday morning after suffering what he described as a stinger late in the second quarter. McCoy was tackled for a one-yard loss on the play, which was supposed to be a handoff to the running back.

"Just got it jammed up in my neck," McCoy said of his right, throwing shoulder. "So we'll look at it in the morning." McCoy described the MRI has precautionary. He remained in the game for three more plays. All of them were incompletions, including an interception on the last attempt.

McCoy said that in hindsight he should have removed himself from the game when he suffered the injury but didn't want to make an excuse for the interception, which came on a deep pass to A.J. Jenkins. McCoy theoretically is competing with Scott Tolzien for the No. 2 quarterback role this season.

McCoy finished 3-7 for 41 yards and a 22.6 passer rating. Tolzien also threw an interception. He finished 15-26 for 158 yards and a 59.5 passer rating.

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Jim Harbaugh had praise for receivers Marlon Moore, who started the game, and Kassim Osgood, who played well both on offense and on special teams. As far as Jenkins, who played more snaps than any other receiver but who ranked 10th in receiving yards Thursday. "Ah, it could have been better," Harbaugh said.

August 8, 2013
Halftime: Moore starts at WR and Osgood stands out. Jenkins?

Marlon Moore was the 49ers' starting receiver and Kassim Osgood was the leading receiver in the first half of today's game against the Broncos.

A.J. Jenkins? The former first-round pick had another up-and-down outing.

As has been the case in training-camp practices, Jenkins played more snaps than any other receiver. But he caught only one of the three passes that went his way, and he fumbled away the ball after initially escaping the cornerback. Another deep pass to Jenkins from Colt McCoy was intercepted. In fairness, Jenkins had broken free on the play but McCoy did not account for the Broncos safety. McCoy suffered a shoulder injury prior to that play and did not return to the game.

Colin Kaepernick started the game with a methodical, 13-play drive reminiscent of his predecessor, Alex Smith. It included two passes to newcomer Anquan Boldin, who has been the quarterback's most trusted target in training camp, and another to tight end Vernon Davis for 12 yards.

A scrambling Kaepernick also hit Moore on a diving, 12-yard catch on third-down. But the 49ers had been backed up by an Anthony Davis false star on the sequence and had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, his first as a 49er.

And with that, Kaepernick's day was over.

August 8, 2013
Justin Smith, Frank Gore sit; Marlon Moore starts at WR

The 49ers began Thursday's game without Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and several other players expected to have big roles in the regular season.

Smith is dealing with a finger injury and was not in uniform. Demarcus Dobbs started the game at right defensive end. Willis has a broken hand that is not expected to affect his availability beyond the preseason. Michael Wilhoite started in his place. Craig Dahl was the starter at free safety next to Donte Whitner.

In addition, receivers Kyle Williams (hamstring) and Quinton Patton (finger) did not suit up. Sacramento's Marlon Moore started the game opposite Anquan Boldin at wideout. Gore was in uniform for warmups but . Daniel Kilgore started at center for Jonathan Goodwin, who has been practicing with a non-contact jersey in training camp.

-- Matt Barrows

August 8, 2013
49ers sign CB Eric Wright to a one-year deal, put him on injury list

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The 49ers signed cornerback Eric Wright, who failed a physical with the team last month, and placed him on the non-football injury/illness list. Wright, 28, will count against the team's 90-man offseason roster, but if he's still on the injury list when the regular-season begins, he will not count against the 49ers' 53-man roster. Wright will not practice until he's healthy, and it doesn't appear as if he'll attend tonight's preseason opener, either.

"We are pleased to welcome Eric to the 49ers organization and look forward to his contributions," said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. "Eric is currently tending to a personal matter and he will join the team as soon as possible."

To make room, the team waived undrafted cornerback Lowell Rose. He was let go when the 49ers initially traded a late-round pick to the Tampa Buccaneers for Wright on July 19. But when Wright failed a physical three days later, that trade was voided and Rose was brought back. Teams only can place players on the non-injury football list before their first preseason game. The 49ers' opener is at 6 p.m. against the Broncos.

Meanwhile, Wright is facing possible DUI charges after he was arrested in Los Angeles last month. An initial hearing on the matter had been scheduled for Wednesday, but it was postponed. That postponement was seen as an indication that the L.A. City Attorney's office may drop the case, which is what happened after another DUI arrest for Wright last year in Los Angeles.

Last month, Baalke made it clear that the 49ers initially did not sign Wright because of the failed physical and not because of the recent DUI.

August 8, 2013
Q&A: When will Mario Manningham be back?

A: No one has said when exactly Mario Manningham will return. However, he and Kendall Hunter both have been rehabilitating on a side field during practices. Hunter has been doing more -- cutting, pulling heavy chains, sprinting at full speed -- than Manningham, and Hunter still hasn't been cleared for practice. I realize their injuries are different - Hunter tore his Achilles' while Manningham had a torn ACL - and that could account for differences in their rehab routines. But it still seems as if Manningham has a few more steps to go before he can get back on the field.

As for stealing the No. 2 role ... Remember, Manningham never was the no. 2 receiver in New York. He came in on third downs, which was similar to his role with the 49ers last year. I'm not sure the 49ers see him (or Kyle Williams, for that matter) as an every-down type player. They are small guys, and their injuries last year only reinforce the concern that they can't withstand every-down pounding for 16 or more games. It's another reason to expect some sort of rotation at the position during the season.

August 7, 2013
Harbaugh: Kaepernick to play "one or two" series; says McCoy has competition

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Jim Harbaugh today said he expected Colin Kaepernick would play a series or two in Thursday's exhibition season opener against Denver before giving way to the No. 2 quarterback? Who's the No. 2 quarterback? In early June, the 49ers coach said Colt McCoy was comfortably in that spot.

"He has been in that role since he got here," Harbaugh said at the time. "He's doing very well, picking up the system. And a guy that is really serious and focused on being good and doing a good job. He's got a lot of things that motivate him to work hard. And he's worked extra hard, too. He's doing well."

Today, however, Harbaugh painted a fuzzier picture. "It's very even," he said of the backup spots. "And very much looking forward to the games and future practices to determine. We're not clear cut at that position." He was then asked if rookie B.J. Daniels was part of that mix. "Yes, yes," he said.

Harbaugh said that there were battles for roster spots up and down the roster and was excited that there was more competition this year than in the previous two years. Of course, that's the message every NFL coach wants to send to his team on the eve of their first preseason game.

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Harbaugh said that Patrick Willis (hand) would not play against the Broncos and that other veterans like Frank Gore and Justin Smith (finger) might not play, either. Michael Wilhoite is likely to start for Willis, LaMichael James likely would start in place of Gore and Demarcus Dobbs would take Justin Smith's spot.

Harbaugh would not say whether A.J. Jenkins would start at wide receiver. He said it might depend on the formation the 49ers use on their first offensive play.

-- Matt Barrows

August 6, 2013
Training camp D11: Lockette, Collie go deep; Iupati sits out practice

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Both Ricardo Lockette and Austin Collie caught deep passes in Tuesday's evening practice. The session was the first non-padded practice since the third day of training camp, and there was a lot of work against the scout-team offense and defense.

Lockette is the fastest player on the squad but he hasn't had a lot of opportunities to showcase that speed. He had the catch of the day, however, on a deep sideline route in which he was well-covered by cornerback Tarell Brown. Lockette leaped up for Scott Tolzien's pass and made a finger-tip grab over Brown.

Lockette made six catches on the evening, including a couple of deep crossing routes. The team could use someone with speed opposite Anquan Boldin this season, and Lockette is one of the options. Boldin, who played with speedsters Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith in Baltimore, today said that A.J. Jenkins, Marlon Moore and Kyle Williams also have shown good deep speed this offseason.

Collie's catch also came late in the session on a throw from rookie B.J. Daniels. The veteran receiver got behind safety Michael Thomas on the play. It was notable because Collie is coming off a torn patella injury from last season and there's a question about whether he's fully recovered.

August 6, 2013
49ers running back D.J. Harper earns rare praise for a rookie

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Rookie running back D.J. Harper is wearing a badge of honor across the bridge of his nose -- a gash he acquired early in training camp when he tangled with one of the 49ers linebackers in a pass-blocking drill.

The encounter may have cut Harper's nose, but he won his battles that day, including against veteran linebacker NaVorro Bowman whom he briefly knocked to the ground. Afterward in the running backs meeting room, Harper was singled out by position coach Tom Rathman, a rarity for any rookie tailback much less an undrafted one like Harper.

"I've got to live up to it now," Harper said today. "I can't go out there and have one or two good days. I have to live up to it. So every single day I come out here I want to continually get better and keep on trying to win those battles."

Picking up blitzing linebackers doesn't get a running back noticed by the fans. But failing to do so can keep a young player on the sideline. Harper, who ran for 1,137 yards and 15 touchdowns last year at Boise State, said it's something that was drilled into him in college, and it may lead to a few carries in Thursday's preseason opener against the Broncos.

August 6, 2013
Mind the (experience) gap: Fangio curious about Lawrence Okoye's debut

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If you're curious how Lawrence Okoye will fare in his first-ever NFL game Thursday, you've got company. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio today said he had no idea how the 6-5, 305-pound defensive end would hold up against the Broncos.

Fangio, however, said that the one-time British discus thrower had improved noticeably since he first arrived in May. "He has been really making strides out here," Fangio said. "He has gotten better from Day 1 to whatever day is now, 10 or 11. ... He has gotten better. But it's all relative."

Fangio said Okoye's snap count will depend on the number of plays the 49ers defense is on the field, something that can range wildly in the preseason. One indication that Okoye -- he'll be wearing No. 78 -- will at least get on the field: Starter Justin Smith will sit out the game with a broken finger.

Demarcus Dobbs will start at right defensive end, the position at which Okoye lines up with the third-team defense. Second-year player Tony Jerod-Eddie also could see action there ahead of Okoye.

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Fangio said that the preseason rotation at free safety would mimic that of training camp. Craig Dahl got the first repetitions with the first-string defense when training camp began, and he will start Thursday's game next to Donte Whitner. C.J. Spillman, Trenton Robinson and rookie Eric Reid also have been worked in with the first-team group.

Tramaine Brock figures to be the No. 3 cornerback while Michael Wilhoite is likely to start at inside linebacker for Patrick Willis (hand). Daniel Kilgore could start at center ahead of Jonathan Goodwin, who has been injured.

- Matt Barrows

August 5, 2013
Training camp D10: Jenkins looks sharp, Reid still "starting" safety

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A.J. Jenkins - yes, A.J. Jenkins! - had one of his best practices to date today, hauling in seven of the nine passes that went in his direction during 11-on-11 and team drills. Jenkins had a rough start to camp, and he spent last week nursing a hamstring injury. But he has had two solid outings in as many days and says he is intent on having a good game Thursday, too. When he is at his best, Jenkins is fluid, snatches the ball cleanly and then gets back up to top speed quickly. He did that on Monday.

"He needs reps," Jim Harbaugh said of Jenkins this week. "We're looking forward to him getting those this week, and in the ball game as well. He needs time. He needs play time."

While Sunday's practice included a lot of running plays, this one was decidedly pass centric as the 49ers worked on their two-minute offense and the reserves got an extra 20 or so plays at the end of practice. While Jenkins took a lot of snaps, the 49ers appear to be taking things more slowly with Kyle Williams and Kassim Osgood, who also are coming back from minor injuries. Both have been practicing but not seeing many opportunities in 11-on-11 and team drills, as shown by the numbers below.

Also, tight end Vernon Davis was dressed for practice but had a light day. He seemed to be shaken up on a running play late in Sunday's session.

August 5, 2013
Report: Willis has surgery on hand; will be back for opener

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Linebacker Patrick Willis recently had surgery on his fractured right hand, the third time the 49ers' inside linebacker has had a procedure on the hand since 2010.

Willis suffered the latest break on July 31 when, during a one-on-one pass-rush drill, his hand struck the leg of fullback Bruce Miller. ESPN, which first noted the surgery, reported that Willis would be back in three weeks. The 49ers will host Green Bay in the regular-season opener two weeks after that.

Even if Willis' hand is not fully recovered by then, recent history indicates that he still could play - and play at a high level - with a cast on the hand. He's broken a finger or a bone in his right hand four times since he was a junior at Ole Miss in 2005. He broke a bone in the hand during his rookie season in 2007 and still led the NFL in tackles that season.

The most serious injury came in December 2010 when he fractured the hand and had pins inserted. He played the following two weeks with a cast on the hand but further damaged it in the penultimate game of the season against St. Louis. With the 49ers out of playoff contention that year, Willis had a second surgery and sat out the season finale, the first game he had missed in his career to that point.

Michael Wilhoite has filled in for Willis in the last week and likely will be in the "Jack" linebacker spot Thursday against Denver. Other inside linebackers include sixth-round pick Nick Moody, Nate Stupar and undrafted rookie Travis Johnson.

-- Matt Barrows

August 4, 2013
Training camp D9: Jenkins returns, makes deep catch; Brock jumps out as no. 3 CB

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The 49ers went from threadbare to cupboard-is-full regarding their wide receiving corps. Four wideouts who missed Friday's practice - A.J. Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, Kassim Osgood and Kyle Williams - were back in action today. As were newcomers Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins, who were added on Friday.

Jenkins had the most prolific afternoon of that group. He caught four of the six passes that went his way during 11-on-11 and team drills, including a 70-yard bomb from Colt McCoy at the end of practice. Jenkins beat undrafted cornerback Lowell Rose on the play.

Jenkins, who had missed the previous week with a hamstring strain, said he felt he needed to get back now so that he could play in Thursday's preseason opener against the Broncos. "I'll be full-go on Thursday. That's all that matters," he said.

Collie and Hawkins did not see much action. They got into the lineup at the very end of the session. Collie caught two passes, including a long ball from Scott Tolzien. Hawkins made his first reception in a 49ers uniform, too.

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Two of the standouts of practice were backup cornerbacks Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox. Brock was in Chris Culliver's role as the team's No. 3 cornerback. He broke quickly on a short sideline pass from McCoy to Chad Hall, picked off the pass and would have been gone for a 75-yard touchdown. Cox, meanwhile, broke up two passes, one from Colin Kaepernick to Jenkins and another from Tolzien to Kyle Williams.

Vernon Davis got nicked during a red-zone running play late in the session and sat out the last half hour or so. His replacements - mainly Garrett Celek - did not step up. Kaepernick continually looked in Celek's direction during an end-of-game scenario, and he couldn't come up with any big catches.

August 4, 2013
Harbaugh: 49ers still assessing CB Eric Wright

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Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers have maintained contact with Eric Wright, who did not pass a physical with the team last month, and they currently are "assessing" the free-agent cornerback. The 49ers initially traded a late-round draft pick to Tampa Bay for Wright, but the deal was scuttled when Wright failed the physical. The Buccaneers released him and he became a free agent.

The need for another cornerback grew last week when Chris Culliver, the team's No. 3 cornerback, tore an ACL, which will knock him out for the 2013 season. Tramaine Brock mostly has filled in -- and filled in well -- as the No. 3 cornerback since. The 49ers also have Perrish Cox and Nnamdi Asomugha as backups. Brock, Asomugha, Cox and starter Tarell Brown, however, all entering the final year of their contracts.

Wright also is dealing with a recent DUI arrest in Los Angeles. He has not yet been charged in that case. Wright also was arrested nearly a year ago in Los Angeles for felony DUI but never was charged. A breath-test taken at that time registered 0.0, his attorney said.

Wright is tentatively scheduled to have his initial court date Wednesday, 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.

Wright, who is from San Francisco, suffered an Achilles' injury last year in Tampa, although the 49ers have not said that's what prompted him to fail his physical. He also was given a four-game suspension after violating the league's performance-enhanncing drug policy.

Last month, general manager Trent Baalke made it clear that the 49ers did not sign Wright because of the failed physical and not because of the recent DUI.

"I'd ask you guys to do your due diligence as well and find out the facts surrounding it," said Baalke, who did not divulge those facts. "And I think when you did that, that particular incident in and of itself - certainly we were aware of it, certainly it's a red flag. But I don't think what's being reported is really the facts around it."

-- Matt Barrows

August 4, 2013
Fangio: Carradine not close to returning to practice

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When will second-round draft pick Tank Carradine start practicing? Vic Fangio says he doesn't know, but that it won't be soon. "I'm sure I'll be alerted when he's close to coming back and I haven't been alerted yet," the defensive coordinator said Friday.

Carradine, the 40th overall pick in the April draft, is recovering from an ACL tear suffered in November at Florida State. Like fellow draft pick Marcus Lattimore, a running back, Carradine worked furiously in the run-up to the draft on his rehabilitation to show teams that he was on his way toward recovery and that he could contribute this season. But also like Lattimore, the 49ers felt it was prudent to slow down that process.

Carradine and another rookie defensive lineman, fifth rounder Quinton Dial, have been rehabilitating together on a side field during practices. Dial, who tore a toe ligament last season and had offseason surgery, appears to be ahead of Carradine.

All of the injured rookies have been placed on the non-football injury (NFI) list. If they remain on that list when the regular season begins, they cannot practice or play for the first six weeks. After Week 6 and continuing through Week 11, there's a three-week window during which they can join practice. If the 49ers feel they are healthy at that point, they can be moved to the active, 53-man roster.

August 3, 2013
Deep thoughts on the 49ers' initial depth chart

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The 49ers released their first unofficial depth chart of the offseason on Friday. They open the preseason against the Broncos on Thursday starting at 6 p.m.

Offense

WR: 81-Anquan Boldin; 17-A.J. Jenkins; 84-Charly Martin; 18-Ricardo Lockette; 4-Lavelle Hawkins; 6-Austin Collie
LT: 74-Joe Staley; 71-Carter Bykowski
LG: 77-Mike Iupati; 78-Joe Looney; 65-Al Netter
C: 59-Jonathan Goodwin; 67-Daniel Kilgore
RG: 75-Alex Boone; 68-Adam Snyder; 62-Wayne Tribue
RT: 76-Anthony Davis; 69-Kenny Wiggins; 66-Patrick Omameh
TE: 85-Vernon Davis; 89-Vance McDonald; 88-Garrett Celek; 46-MarQueis Gray
WR: 10-Kyle Williams; 14-Chad Hall; 19-Marlon Moore; 13-Kassim Osgood; 11-Quinton Patton; 1-Chuck Jacobs
FB: 49-Bruce Miller; 24-Anthony Dixon; 45-Jason Schepler
RB: 21-Frank Gore; 23-LaMichael James; 24-Anthony Dixon; 33-Jewel Hampton; 36-D.J. Harper
QB: 7-Colin Kaepernick; 2-Colt McCoy; 3-Scott Tolzien; 5-B.J. Daniels

Defense

LDT: 91-Ray McDonald; 83-Demarcus Dobbs; 78-Lawrence Okoye;
NT: 93-Ian Williams; 90-Glenn Dorsey; 92-Lamar Divens; 64-Mike Purcell
RDT: 94-Justin Smith; 48-Will Tukuafu; 63-Tony Jerod-Eddie
OLB: 55-Ahmad Brooks; 50-Cam Johnson; 51-Dan Skuta
ILB: 53-NaVorro Bowman; 45-Nate Stupar; 56-Travis Johnson
ILB: 52-Patrick Willis; 57-Michael Wilhoite; 54-Nick Moody
OLB: 99-Aldon Smith; 98-Parys Haralson; 96-Corey Lemonier
LCB: 22-Carlos Rogers; (29-Chris Culliver;) 26-Tramaine Brock; 33-Marcus Cooper; 40-Lowell Rose
RCB: 25-Tarell Brown; 24-Nnamdi Asomugha; 20-Perrish Cox; 38-Darryl Morris
FS: 27-C.J. Spillman; 35-Eric Reid; 30-Trenton Robinson; 36-Michael Thomas
SS: 31-Donte Whitner; 43-Craig Dahl; 28-Darcel McBath; 41-Bubba Ventrone

Special teams

P: 4-Andy Lee
K: 9-Phil Dawson
H: 4-Andy Lee
PR: 23-LaMichael James; 10-Kyle Williams; 14-Chad Hall; 20-Perrish Cox
KOR: 23-LaMichael James; 10-Kyle Williams; 14-Chad Hall; 20-Perrish Cox
LS: 86-Brian Jennings; 47-Kevin McDermott

Some thoughts ...

• The key word is "unofficial." It's put together by the team's PR staff with assistance from the some of the coaches. In truth, the depth chart is in a constant state of flux in the offseason due to - primarily - injuries but also to players rising and falling and coaches testing out players in new roles. For instance:

August 2, 2013
Collie on concussions: "I'm a smart kid. I'm not going to put myself at risk"

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"If a doctor came to me and said, 'Hey, you shouldn't be playing,' I wouldn't play," receiver Austin Collie said about an hour after his first practice with the 49ers wrapped up Friday.

With so much focus on head injuries in recent years, Collie has become as well known for concussions - he's had three since November 2010 - as he has for his receiving ability. But Collie said that he hasn't heard that message from doctors because he continues to pass the neurological exams given him.

"I have a pretty good self awareness of where I'm at with my body," he said. "I'm a smart kid. I'm not going to put myself at risk. And every doctor I talked to said, 'You can play. You're ready to go.'"

Collie, 27, said he had workouts with four teams before signing a one-year deal with the 49ers today, and that most of them examined his head. That includes the Jets, who, Collie said, gave him a "thorough neuro-psyche test."

"Like I said - passed 'em all," he said. "To be honest with you, I don't think I needed those tests to know that. I know where my head's at. Before I injured my knee (last season), I was cleared to play. I knew I was fine."

The former Oak Ridge High (El Dorado Hills) standout also worked out for the Dolphins and Patriots. He said the Seahawks were one of several other teams that inquired but that they never set up a workout.

Collie missed most of last season with the Colts with a torn patella. He declared that injury 100 percent recovered as well, although he said the 49ers' plan was to take him along slowly in his first week of training camp.

Collie, who caught a pass from Colt McCoy Friday, said it had been 10 months since his last football practice. "It felt awesome," he said. "I've been working for it for a long time, working hard, rehabbing hard and just to make sure I get the opportunity to come out here and put on a helmet."

- Matt Barrows

August 2, 2013
Training camp D8: Justin Smith nicked; WR reinforcements arrive just in time

The reinforcements arrived in time for Friday's late-afternoon practice. Receivers Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins each signed one-year contracts around 3 p.m. and then quickly were fitted for helmets and uniforms so that they could bolster the 49ers' ever-thinning receiving corps.

Wearing No. 6, Collie caught a short, third-down reception from quarterback Colt McCoy late in the session. Hawkins - he was wearing No. 4 -- hauled in a sideline throw from B.J. Daniels, but the toss carried him out of bounds. The practice was conducted without Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood, who have missed the last several practices. Ricardo Lockette also was absent. He appeared to injure his hip on Sunday but had been toughing it out and, until today, did not miss any practices.

When the 49ers first-team offense trotted onto the field, Anquan Boldin and Marlon Moore were the starting wideouts. Chad Hall also played extensively, especially from the slot position.

There were plenty of other players missing, too. Justin Smith had a wrap on his middle finger and sat out the session. Cornerback Tarell Brown began practice but watched most of it from the sideline. With Chris Culliver out for the season with a torn ACL, Nnamdi Asomugha and Carlos Rogers were the de facto starters with Tramaine Brock entering in the nickel defense.

Asomugha nearly had an interception when Colin Kaepernick attempted a quick sideline throw to Moore and Asomugha broke on the ball. It would have resulted in a defensive touchdown but Asomugha could not get a handle on the ball. Brock, meanwhile, intercepted a McCoy pass intended for Anquan Boldin.

*********************************
The other injured players were Patrick Willis (hand), NaVorro Bowman (groin), Aldon Smith and Jonathan Goodwin. Here's who their replacements (mainly) were:

August 2, 2013
Austin Collie, Lavelle Hawkins to join 49ers receiving corps

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Austin Collie ran routes and caught passes from Colin Kaepernick around noon on Friday. Less than three hours later, he had signed a contract with the 49ers, and he presumably will be on the field when the team begins practice at 5 p.m.

And he's not the only wide receiver joining the mix. The team also will sign former Cal receiver Lavelle Hawkins, 27, to a one-year deal, according to a league source. Hawkins, Collie and ex-Jaguar Laurent Robinson worked out in front of Jim Harbaugh, general manager Trent Baalke and host of assistant coaches and scouts this afternoon.

The 49ers cleared two spots on the 90-man roster by releasing center Sherman Carter, an undrafted rookie, and punter/kicker Colton Schmidt, who played at UC Davis.

Collie, 27, also worked out for coaches and scouts on June 13 when he took passes from rookie B.J. Daniels. 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 Nov. 7, 2010. One of the 49ers team doctors, Daniel Garza, is a specialist at Stanford Hospital in concussions and head injuries.

The 49ers began training camp with Michael Crabtree (Achilles') and Mario Manningham (ACL) on the physically unable to perform list. Since then, Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Kassim Osgood and Quinton Patton all have been injured. Patton (finger) continues to practice but cannot catch passes.

Collie played in only one game last year for the Colts before injuring his knee. In the previous three years, he had 172 catches for 1,839 yards and 16 touchdowns. Hawkins, who is from Stockton, was a fourth-round pick by the Titans in 2008. He has 71 catches for 771 yards and a touchdown in five seasons in Tennessee. He also returned seven kickoffs last year, including a 71 yarder. Hawkins signed a two-year deal with the Patriots in May, but they cut him earlier this week.

-- Matt Barrows

August 2, 2013
Fangio: jury still out on Nnamdi Asomugha

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Jim Harbaugh on Thursday was ebullient about how newcomer cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has looked in training camp. Vic Fangio on Friday was less so.

"He's had some good days out here and some days where we weren't sure if he was going to be able to still have it," the 49ers defensive coordinator said. "So I think we're kind of in between with him right now. Hopefully he'll be able to still have gas left in the tank to be able to go out and play like he did prior to going to Philadelphia. So I think the jury is still out."

The difference in assessment is partially do to personal style. Harbaugh always will defend his players and otherwise talk them up, even if they have been less-than-stellar on the field. (See: Jenkins, AJ; circa summer 2012). Fangio, meanwhile, is more reserved and circumspect, and he's more difficult to impress.

Fangio also has a competition on his hands and doesn't want anyone to feel too comfortable.

Before Chris Culliver's season-ending injury Thursday, the makeup of the 49ers' cornerback rotation was clear: As was the case last year, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown would be the starting cornerback while Culliver would come in on nickel downs.

With Culliver out, that third-down role is now up in the air, and Fangio said there was competition among Asomugha, Tramaine Brock and Perrish Cox to win it. Brock mostly filled in for Culliver on Thursday; Asomugha on Friday.

Brock was the team's No. 3 cornerback early in 2011, and he began that season with two interceptions. But he broke his hand in Week 2. Culliver -- then a rookie -- stepped into the role in Brock's absence and never gave up the job. Now Brock has a chance to win it back.

"Good quickness, good speed, good ball skills," Fangio said of Brock. "Now it may be a chance to go out there, show what he's got and take this job."

-- Matt Barrows

August 2, 2013
Report: Former Cal WR Hawkins to work out for 49ers

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Add former Cal receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who once starred opposite DeSean Jackson in the Bears offense, to a growing list of veteran wide receivers working out for the 49ers. The 27-year-old Hawkins will get a tryout today alongside fellow free agents Austin Collie and Laurent Robinson, a league source said.

Hawkins, who is from Stockton, was a fourth-round pick by the Titans in 2008 but never made much of a splash in five seasons there. He had 71 catches for 771 yards and just one touchdown. He returned seven kickoffs last year for Tennessee, averaging an impressive 29.3 yards a return. The Patriots signed the 5-11, 194-pound receiver in May to a two-year, $1.84 million contract but released him this week.

The 49ers have suffered through a number of injuries during the first seven days of training camp, including at receiver where Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Kassim Osgood have missed recent practices. Two other wideouts, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, are on the PUP list.

-- Matt Barrows

August 1, 2013
Reports: Culliver tears ACL; will miss the season

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Chris Culliver's knee injury looked serious when it occurred around 12:30 p.m. this afternoon. And it is. Both ESPN and NFL.com are reporting that Culliver, the team's No. 3 cornerback the last two years, tore his ACL and will miss the season.

Culliver was dueling with fellow cornerback Marcus Cooper while running down the field to cover a punt. He switched directions and then went down in a heap and immediately clutched at his left knee. It was similar to the motion that tore linebacker Darius Fleming's left ACL on Sunday. Fleming was covering a kickoff and also was going one-on-one against a defender when he switched directions and went down.

Culliver played 63 percent of the 49ers' defensive snaps last year. His replacement in Thursday's session was Tramaine Brock. But several others could win that role, including Nnamdi Asomugha or Perrish Cox. The 49ers also haven't ruled out signing Eric Wright, whom they traded for last month but who failed a physical with the team.

Asomugha in particular has played well in recent practices, and he got praise from Jim Harbaugh on Thursday. "Yeah, he did have noticeable, eye-popping plays, yesterday especially," Harbaugh said. "He's been good. I think he's got a good grasp of what we're doing defensively. In shape, doing a nice job.

Culliver is one of the few cornerbacks under contract for next season. Tarell Brown, Asomugha, Brock and Cox all are entering the final year of their deals. (Cox is a restricted free agent). Another cornerback, Carlos Rogers, will count a team-high $8.1 million against the salary cap next season.

-- Matt Barrows

August 1, 2013
Training camp D7: Asomugha continues to shine but Brock has No. 3 CB role

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The 49ers went through training-camp practice No. 7 without some major members of their defense - Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Chris Culliver, who appeared to suffer a serious left knee injury while covering a punt early in the session.

With Willis and Bowman out, the first-team inside linebackers were Michael Wilhoite and Nate Stupar, although good-looking draft pick Nick Moody got a chance to work alongside Wilhoite with the first-stringers later in practice. Wilhoite played Willis' "Jack" linebacker position early; Moody moved to "Jack" late. Which is to say, Wilhoite can play either of the inside-linebacker roles.

*********************************
Meanwhile, Tramaine Brock assumed the role of the No. 3 cornerback during practice. That's a little surprising given the fact that Nnamdi Asomugha has been playing well, especially on Wednesday when he had an interception and a pass break-up on an attempt to Anquan Boldin. Asomugha had another strong session today as well - he knocked away a pass to Chad Hall - and he got recognition from Jim Harbaugh after practice.

"Yeah, he did have noticeable, eye-popping plays, yesterday especially," Harbaugh said. "He's been good. I think he's got a good grasp of what we're doing defensively. In shape, doing a nice job."

Asomugha and Perrish Cox were the second-string cornerbacks. Cox intercepted Colt McCoy early in the session. He also is the No. 2 nickel cornerback and was one of four players - LaMichael James, B.J. Daniels and Hall were the others - who returned punts. In fact, Cox was the punt returner when Culliver got hurt.

Bowman's and Aldon's Smith's injuries don't appear serious. They were working out on a side field during the start of practice. Harbaugh also said he didn't think Willis' fractured right hand would keep him out of any regular-season games. Culliver was getting an MRI at the end of practice. His injury appears to be the most serious.

*********************************
Vic Fangio is a man of his word. The team's defensive coordinator said that four different safeties would get a chance to win the starting free-safety role this year. And all four of those players have gotten a chance to play opposite Donte Whitner with the first unit so far. Today, Trenton Robinson was with the first string early in practice while first-round pick Eric Reid got a chance late. Craig Dahl began camp as the de facto starter but gave way to C.J. Spillman earlier this week.

August 1, 2013
Chris Culliver goes down with knee injury

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Another prominent member of the 49ers went down with an injury in practice today. Chris Culliver, the team's No. 3 cornerback, was running down the field on a one-on-one punt coverage drill with rookie Marcus Cooper blocking him when he fell to the ground and clutched his left knee. Culliver immediately summoned a trainer and eventually was carted into the the team's training room, his head in his hands.

Jim Harbaugh looked in on Culliver while he was down, and general manager Trent Baalke put his arm around him before he was carted away.

Culliver did not start last year, but he had a large role as the team's third-best cornerback, entering games on the outside when opponents used three wide receivers. He played 63 percent of the 49ers' defensive snaps last season.

With Culliver out today, more snaps will go to newcomer Nnamdi Asomugha, who on Wednesday had perhaps his best practice since joining the 49ers. Perrish Cox, Tramaine Brock, Cooper and undrafted rookies Darryl Morris and Lowell Rose also will see more action. The team also would not rule out signing free-agent cornerback Eric Wright, who did not pass a physical with the team last month.

Meanwhile, linebacker Patrick Willis is out of practice with a black cast on his fractured right hand. Fellow starters NaVorro Bowman (groin), Aldon Smith and Jonathan Goodwin also are not practicing. Neither are receivers Kyle Williams, Kassim Osgood and A.J. Jenkins.

Culliver appeared to hurt his shoulder late in Wednesday's practice; he was on hand for the start of today's session.

-- Matt Barrows

August 1, 2013
Austin Collie to get second workout with 49ers

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Free-agent receiver Laurent Robinson isn't the only free-agent wideout working out for the 49ers this week. Austin Collie, who had a workout with the team in June, also will get a second look, a league source said.

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. Like Robinson, Collie has interest from several other teams, including the Patriots with whom he's also had a workout. Robinson has visited the Dolphins, Jets, Lions and Patriots.

Robinson also has struggled with concussions, including last year with the Jaguars. Jacksonville released him one year after signing him to a five-year contract.

The 49ers began training camp with Michael Crabtree (Achilles') and Mario Manningham (ACL) on the physically unable to perform list. Since then, Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Kassim Osgood and Quinton Patton all have been injured. Patton (finger) continues to practice but cannot catch passes.

-- Matt Barrows

August 1, 2013
Report: Willis suffered fracture on his right hand

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Patrick Willis has a "slight fracture" in his right hand, ESPN reported this morning, making this the fourth time the perennial pro bowler will be wearing a cast on his right hand since his junior season at Ole Miss.

Willis evidently injured the hand during perhaps the most violent drill in training-camp, a one-on-one pass-blocking drill against fullback Bruce Miller on Wednesday afternoon. He is not expected to miss any time during the regular season, which is five and a half weeks away. He wore a cast over the right hand during his previous injuries.

He missed zero games and led the league in tackles while playing with a bulky cast over his hand in 2007. The club-like cast caught the eye of then-Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, who gave Willis the nickname Bam Bam. In 2010, Willis broke a bone in the same hand. Though that fracture was more serious, Willis again played with a bandaged hand until the team was out of playoff contention. He sat out the final game of the season but still finished 10th in the NFL in tackles. He broke a finger in the hand in 2005.

Willis was prominent during the 49ers' recent spring practices in that he was on the field every chance he could. While other veterans sat out practices or recovered from 2012 injuries, Willis said his goal was to continue to improve, and he was called upon by Jim Harbaugh to give a speech to the team at the end of the June minicamp.

Read: Willis begins his Super Bowl push in April, May and June.

With Willis out, Michael Wilhoite will take over at an inside linebacker spot opposite NaVorro Bowman. Wilhoite made a splash on special teams late last season and he drew praise from Willis early in training camp. Bowman also has missed time recently with a groin injury. Nate Stupar has filled in for him, and the team also drafted good-looking rookie Nick Moody and recently signed San Jose State's Travis Johnson to play the position.

The 49ers have suffered a number of injuries -- some serious, some not -- in the first six practices of training camp. The last four have been fully-padded sessions. Another inside linebacker, Darius Fleming, suffered a torn ACL this week while changing directions covering a kickoff. There was no contact on the play. Receiver Michael Crabtree's torn Achilles' tendon on May 21 also occurred without contact, Jim Harbaugh said.



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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