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  • San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick,above, airs one out on the first day of workouts. Kaepernick was targeted for hits by the Ravens in the Super Bowl – even when he didn't have the ball. At left, linebacker Aldon Smith appears to be in a good mood as he stretches out. Marcio Jose Sanchez Associated Press

49ers notes: Kaepernick not worried about big hits

Published: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 26, 2013 - 10:20 am

SANTA CLARA – One of the story lines during the offseason was how defenses – like that of the 49ers' Week 1 opponent, Green Bay – will adjust to the proliferation of read-option quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick.

One of the possible solutions is to hit the quarterback whether he keeps the football or not.

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

Kaepernick on Thursday didn't seem all that concerned about possibly being roughed up this season. If defenses use that as a strategy, he said, the 49ers' offense will adjust.

"It's a chess match," he said.

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

"I was on the run," he said. "He got a good shot on my shoulders and head. Best lick I've taken."

Did he return to the game?

"Knock on wood, I haven't been knocked out yet," Kaepernick said with a smile.

Kaepernick and the Wolf Pack lost that game 69-17. Weatherspoon is now with the Atlanta Falcons. So you might say Kaepernick got his revenge in the NFC Championship Game and will get another chance when the Falcons visit Dec. 23.

Williams activated – The 49ers took wide receiver Kyle Williams off the physically unable to perform list, allowing him to take part in Thursday's opening practice of training camp. Williams had been recovering from an ACL injury suffered Nov. 25. He'll now join the competition to be the No. 2 wide receiver opposite Anquan Boldin.

The team also activated inside linebacker Darius Fleming (knee) but placed nose tackle Lamar Divens on the non-football injury list. Divens was involved in an incident with teammate Ahmad Brooks last month in which Brooks allegedly hit Divens three times in the head with a beer bottle.

Pad proliferation – Justin Smith hasn't worn thigh pads in more than a decade. But he and the rest of the 49ers – indeed, all of the NFL – will have to don the full complement of pads this season, per a new league rule.

"I think it's swung too far, but that's the way it is," Smith, a 13-year veteran, said of the new safety rule. "The rule's the rule, you go with it. If you want to change the rule, get in a position where you can change the rule. But I'm not in that position."

Coach Jim Harbaugh said veterans will have the option of easing into the new rule this summer. He said first-year players will have to wear thigh and other pads during padded practices. Veterans will have the option of not wearing those pads, though the coaching staff recommends that they start getting used to them as soon as possible.

Harbaugh likened it to when the NHL began requiring all incoming players to wear helmets.

"There was a time when not even the goalies wore helmets," he said.

Crabtree update – Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was seen heading to the weight room shortly before noon Thursday. Crabtree, who had surgery May 22 for a torn Achilles' tendon, was walking without a limp but had a black, plastic brace on his right foot.

The earliest Crabtree is expected back is late November.

Read Matthew Barrows' blogs and archives at and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320. Follow him on Twitter @mattbarrows.

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