San Francisco 49ers Blog with Matt Barrows logo
G7R2MOSKM.5STF
The Associated Press
San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis participates in drills during training camp on Thursday.

Aldon Smith said Thursday he will meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York some time in the “near future” to discuss the incidents for which he was sentenced last week, but a date has not been set. Goodell will decide on any suspension for Smith, the 49ers’ top pass rusher, shortly thereafter.

A judge last week sentenced Smith to 12 days on a work crew after he pleaded “no contest” to DUI and gun possession charges. He is expected to serve that sentence on Mondays, a day off for the 49ers. Smith voluntarily entered an alcohol rehabilitation center following his September DUI and missed six weeks of the season. A month later, Goodell said that stint would be considered when doling out any punishment.

The DUI arrest was the second in 11/2 years for Smith, who was pulled over in Miami Beach after his rookie season. Those charges later were reduced to reckless driving.

A police spokeswoman in Los Angeles also said Smith was suspected to have been drinking in April when he was arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat at Los Angeles International Airport. Smith’s blood-alcohol content wasn’t tested, however, and the bomb-threat charge was dropped.

GP32MPJ0S.7Senior Photographer
Paul Kitagaki Jr./pkitagaki@sacbee.com
G7R2MOTVO.6STF
AP

Asked how he’ll deal with a challenge from a phalanx of young and talented running backs this year, the 49ers’ Frank Gore turned toward his questioner, smiled and said, “I’m from Miami, man.”

He could have left it at that.

Gore, the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, sharpened his skills and hardened his resolve by fighting for carries as a younger man, especially at the talent-laden University of Miami, where he first competed with Clinton Portis for a role in the Hurricanes’ backfield and later did the same with Willis McGahee. Portis, now retired, is 30th on the all-time NFL rushing list; McGahee, a free agent, is 37th. Gore is 29th.

After the 49ers drafted him in 2005, Gore quickly wrestled the starting job from incumbent Kevan Barlow, and he has been dispatching challengers since. Whether it’s been Barlow, Brian Westbrook, Brandon Jacobs or LaMichael James, the common thread of playing running back for the 49ers over the past decade has been frustration and a lack of playing time. Gore hardly ever leaves the playing field.

G8V2MPJKR.2
file/ file
First-round Jimmie Ward, taking part in his first full-team practice, was one of the standouts of the session.

'First impressions' was one of the themes of the opening practice of 49ers training camp today, and no one made a better one than first-round draft pick Jimmie Ward, who was coming back from a Jones' fracture (foot) this spring and didn't get on the field until recently.

Ward lined up with the second-team defense and, as planned, played the slot cornerback position. He turned in one of the interceptions of the day – Aldon Smith had the other – when he dove for a pass that was deflected by cornerback Chris Cook. The pass was thrown by Colin Kaepernick and intended for receiver Chuck Jacobs. Kaepernick also threw the pass Smith picked off. It was meant to be a dump-off to Kendall Hunter.

The best way to describe Ward: rangy. He's got long arms and is quick in and out of his breaks, which is ideal for the nickel spot. He's certainly not huge, and he looks more like a cornerback than a safety. The reason he's listed at that position is due to the way he hits, which wasn't allowed during Thursday's non-padded session. The team won't have a full-contact practice until Saturday.

********************

GD12MN9GG.2
File/ File
Marcus Lattimore is still dealing with complications from his 2012 knee injury and is not fully healthy for the start of training camp.

Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers “hit it out of the park” when it came to Wednesday’s conditioning test with everyone receiving a passing grade. But a number of players, including one prominent young player and four draft picks, didn’t take part due to injuries.

That list includes running back Marcus Lattimore, who will begin training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Harbaugh said that team doctors evaluated Lattimore and “we do what’s best for the member of the team.”

Asked if the issue is with Lattimore’s surgically reconstructed knee or the hamstring strain that bothered him in the spring, Harbaugh said, “a combination of the two” before referring questions to team doctors, who are off limits to the media.

Also out of action to start camp are draft picks Marcus Martin, a center, Bruce Ellington, a wide receiver, Aaron Lynch, an outside linebacker and Kaleb Ramsey, a defensive lineman. Lynch hurt his hamstring in the spring while Ellington and Martin suffered minor ankle injuries away from the team facility during the recent break. Ramsey’s injury is unknown. Harbaugh said none of the rookies are expected to miss much time with Ellington returning the soonest.

49ers Camp Football
AP Photo
San Francisco 49ers' Aldon Smith talks to reporters during an NFL football training camp on Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Santa Clara, Calif.
GPR2MMRUT.2
File/ File
Aldon Smith will meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell in the near future. Goodell is expected to issue a suspension shortly thereafter.

Aldon Smith today said he will meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York some time in the “near future” to discuss the incidents for which he was sentenced last week but that a date has not been set. Goodell is expected to decide on any suspension for Smith, the 49ers' top pass rusher, shortly thereafter.

Last week, a judge sentenced Smith to 12 days on a work crew after he pleaded “no contest” to DUI and gun possession charges. He is expected to fulfill that sentence on Mondays, a day off for the 49ers. Smith voluntarily entered an alcohol rehabilitation center following his September DUI and missed six weeks of the season. A month later, Goodell said that stint would be considered when doling out any punishment.

The DUI arrest was the second in 1 ½ years for Smith, who was pulled over in Miami Beach after his rookie season. Those charges later were reduced to reckless driving. A police spokeswoman also said that Smith was suspected to have been drinking in April when he was arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat at Los Angeles International Airport. Smith’s blood-alcohol content was never tested, however, and the bomb-threat charge was eventually dropped.

Smith countered the allegation he had been drinking in L.A. by saying he's been sober since going to the alcohol rehabilitation facility in September. “I've been able to maintain (sobriety). It's going good,” he said.

GRA2FN0RH.4Senior Photographer
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ pkitagaki@sacbee.com
Tight end Vernon Davis, pictured against the Cardinals in a game last October, has hauled in 93 passes, including 18 touchdowns, for the 49ers the past two seasons.

Vernon Davis’ training camp holdout ended before it began.

The 49ers’ tight end, who skipped all the spring practice sessions while seeking a more lucrative contract, strolled into the locker room Wednesday morning with the other veterans and was embraced by teammates.

“Vernon is not the type of person that is going to walk out on his team like that,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said later in the afternoon.

Kaepernick had to be thrilled to have Davis in camp. He caught 15 of Kaepernick’s 24 touchdown passes last season and was the 49ers’ only deep threat. Despite new weapons at wide receiver, the 49ers’ passing attack was decidedly lackluster without Davis this spring.

The 49ers kick off training camp with another stacked and established roster, and as usual few starting spots are in doubt. But there is at least some intrigue. Injuries and right guard Alex Boone’s holdout make the summer competition a bit spicier than in recent years. The first practice is at 2:30 p.m. today. Here are the top battles:

INSIDE LINEBACKER

The 49ers won’t rush NaVorro Bowman’s recovery from an ACL injury, and the smart money is on him returning after the team’s Week 8 bye. His absence creates a good competition among four players with little – or no – NFL experience. Michael Wilhoite, who started two games in place of injured Patrick Willis last year, will get the first shot at the job. He’ll be challenged by third-round pick Chris Borland, second-year player Nick Moody and undrafted rookie Shayne Skov. Skov’s advantage: He’s familiar with the defense from his days at Stanford and is familiar with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, his defensive coordinator with the Cardinal in 2010.

RIGHT GUARD

G5P2MFK0E.2
Marcio Jose Sanchez/ AP
Justin Smith, the 49ers’ top defensive lineman, said he was hampered by a shoulder injury last year.

If Justin Smith wasn’t his usual havoc-causing self last season, there was a good reason.

The 49ers defensive end today revealed he suffered a shoulder injury during last year’s training camp and played through the season with the injury. Smith had surgery this offseason, which is why he did not take part in any of the team’s spring drills.

“You use your arms in football quite a bit for (playing) inside,” Smith said when asked if he was hampered in 2013. “It was what it was.”

Last year at this time, Smith also was coming back from a torn triceps. It was the first major injury of his career and it cost him two and half games at the end of the 2012 season. He returned for the playoffs that year but was not nearly as effective as he had been during the team’s 2011 playoff march when he took over games against New Orleans and the Giants.

GGG2MGOMU.2
Paul Kitagaki/ The Sacramento Bee
Frank Gore said he welcomes competition from a bevy of young running backs this year.

Asked how he’ll deal with a challenge from a phalanx of young and talented running backs this year, Frank Gore today smiled and said, “I’m from Miami, man.”

He could have left it at that. Gore became the hard-nosed running back he is today by fighting for carries, espcially at the talent-laden University of Miami where he first competed with Clinton Portis for a role in the Hurricanes backfield and later did the same with Willis McGahee. Gore was leading McGahee for the starting spot in 2002 when he blew out his knee and had to sit out the season.

“I’ve been out there competing ever since I left high school,” he said. “I’ve been with top guys who have been in the league. It’s all to get each other better, and I’m up for it. One day, they’re going to have to get this role. But while I’m here, I’m going to look at it as a challenge.”

This year, Gore leads a group of upstarts, including 2013 draft pick Marcus Lattimore and this year’s second-round pick, Carlos Hyde. Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Jewel Hampton round out the 49ers’ group of tailbacks in training camp. It’s easily the most talented group Gore, 31, has faced in his 10 NFL seasons.

Vernon Davis is in the building.

The 49ers tight end, a no-show for the team's mandatory minicamp last month as he sought a more lucrative contract, was among the veterans in the 49ers' locker room today. This, according to an Instagram video from safety C.J. Spillman, who posted a clip of Davis greeting teammates Glenn Dorsey, Quinton Dial and Kassim Osgood this morning.

Veterans like Davis reported to camp today. The first practice is tomorrow. Davis is currently the fourth highest-paid tight end in the league. He has said he wants to be paid commensurate with his value to the offense, but he has sent mixed messages about how entrenched he was in his position. He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this month it wasn't “the end of the world” if he didn't get a new contract.

GC02MAHP5.4Senior Photographer
Paul Kitagaki Jr./pkitagaki@sacbee.com
GA42MAJQJ.4FRE
Brian Blanco/AP

Where have you gone, 2011 49ers?

You remember that squad, right? New coach. Plucky attitude. Made-for-Lifetime-Channel story lines.

Sure, those 49ers certainly worked hard and the stakes were high. But there also was a wonderful levity about the team. Everything was new and unexpected. Coach Jim Harbaugh had a blissful, year-long honeymoon. Every word and expression – whoooo’s got it better than us? – was pure gold. The players lapped it up. The fans and media did, too.

Expectations also were light and fluffy. After all, the team hadn’t made the playoffs in the previous eight seasons. And the long offseason lockout that year prevented the incoming coaches from even laying eyes on their team until late July, making a postseason run improbable.

G6B2M933Q.2
Beck Diefenbach/ AP
Take a good look: This could be the final season for the 49ers’ bell cow back, Frank Gore.

The competition between Marcus Lattimore and Carlos Hyde, both of whom were big-time running backs in big-time conferences, has captured the imagination of fans and fantasy football pundits alike. I know I've done at least two national radio interviews in the last week where that has been a hot topic.

As juicy as that battle might seem, however, the reality of the situation is that neither young runner is likely to see significant carries this year as long as Frank Gore is healthy. Or walking. Or upright.

Gore, you see, is going into the final year of his contract, which also happens to be his 10th season with the 49ers. A decade with one team is a huge milestone, especially for a running back. One of the walls inside 49ers headquarters is dedicated to the men who have played 10 or more years with them. It's a relatively small group and there's only one running back, Joe Perry, whose portrait is on that wall.

Perry is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the 49ers have retired his number. If Gore plays this season, he will be the 49th player on the wall -- a fitting number for a player who propped up the offense during its darkest years.

For 49ers blog posts before May 2014, go to the blog archives

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.

49ers Blog Archives

Note: The 49ers blog switched blog platforms in May 2014. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.


Matt Barrows on Twitter

FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Watch Bee news, lifestyle videos | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying
Sacramento Bee Job listing powered by Careerbuilder.com
Quick Job Search
TODAY'S CIRCULARS
Sacramentoconnect.com SacWineRegion.com SacMomsclub.com SacPaws.com BeeBuzz Points Find n Save