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Ahmad Brooks, left, and Corey Lemonier, both linebackers with the 49ers, practice last month at the team’s minicamp in Santa Clara.

Outside linebacker Corey Lemonier spent the offseason working out with Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Glenn Dorsey … and his Labrador-pit bull mix.

One day in the spring, Lemonier took on the steep incline of Mission Peak in Fremont. He did fine, but his dog – about 50 pounds – pooped out on the way down.

“I ended up carrying my dog halfway down,” Lemonier said. “It ended up being another workout on its own.”

It was welcome toil for Lemonier, who dedicated his offseason to building up strength and stamina after a promising rookie season in 2013. The result, he said, is about 10 pounds of added muscle and immeasurably more confidence than he had a year ago.

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Second-year player Tank Carradine consistently has been a handful for 49ers offensive linemen in training camp.

Training camp practice No. 6 was a good one for 49ers defensive backs with Darryl Morris, rookies Dontae Johnson and Jimmie Ward and especially Perrish Cox making plays throughout the session.

Cox has been filling in at one of the starting cornerback spots while Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver sit out with minor ailments. He appeared to get caught out of position during an early 11-on-11 drills, but Colin Kaepernick's deep pass to Anquan Boldin hung in the air. Cox raced backward and made a nice over-the-shoulder snag for an interception.

He had another later in practice during a hurry-up offense scenario. Kaepernick tried a quick out pass to Quinton Patton, and Cox broke quickly on the ball for a diving interception. However, he fumbled it when he tried to get up and run downfield.

Johnson, meanwhile, is one of several cornerbacks on the team that are as big as safeties. In fact, the 49ers' safeties – especially Ward and Antoine Bethea – look like cornerbacks while the cornerbacks – especially Johnson and Chris Cook – look like traditional safeties.

Paul Kitagaki/ The Bee
Aldon Smith, who has been one of the early standouts in 49ers training camp, missed today’s sessions while putting closure on the April incident in Los Angeles.

Aldon Smith will miss today's 49ers practices to attend a hearing in Los Angeles that will put closure on the bomb-threat incident that occurred at Los Angeles International Airport in April.

No charges ultimately were filed in the incident. However, Smith was ordered by the city attorney's office there to attend a hearing where he will give his side of the incident and be instructed on how to avoid a similar situation in the future.

As was the case a year ago when Smith missed five games of the season, he likely will be replaced at outside linebacker in the afternoon practice by a combination of Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier. Lemonier, who is noticeably bulked up and in better shape than he was last year as a rookie, said he's mostly been lining up at left outside linebacker but will probably spend more time on the right side, Smith's position, today.

All of the team's pass rushers have looked good so far in training camp, especially Smith and fellow starter Ahmad Brooks. Smith has said he's had the best offseason of his career.

Chris Cook, who has never had an interception in an NFL practice, snagged one in Tuesday’s practice

Chris Cook had an interception in today's practice. That normally wouldn't be momentous enough news to lead off a notebook, except for the fact that interceptions have been Cook's nemesis thus far in his career.

The former second-round pick didn't have a single interception in four seasons (and 30 starts) in Minnesota, and improving his ball skills – turning, locating the ball in the air and then jumping up to retrieve it – has been a major point of emphasis for Cook during the spring and summer sessions in Santa Clara. Here’s what I wrote about that process in June.

“That was a nice play by him today,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “The receiver (Brandon Lloyd) did not go up and compete with him. I don't think the receiver knew the ball was thrown to him. So it ended up being a little bit easier play than normal. But the fact remains that he did go up and get it, caught it and that's a good thing.”

Fangio was characteristically stingy with compliments today. Rookie linebacker Chris Borland, for example, also came away with an interception off a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

Carlos Osorio/ AP
The 49ers now have plenty of room under the salary cap to rework Alex Boone’s deal or to extend another player.

General manager Trent Baalke and other members of the 49ers have reached out recently to holdout Alex Boone, according to multiple sources, but the team's starting right guard remains resolute in his stance.

As it stands now Boone ranks 43rd in the NFL in average salary for guards. He signed his current deal in 2011 when he was a backup at tackle. He's seeking a new deal that will pay him commensurate with a starting guard, his role since the beginning of the 2012 season.

In meeting with reporters on Saturday, Baalke refused to talk about Boone's holdout, including whether the 49ers negotiate with players who are not in training camp. Boone, who went undrafted in 2009, has two years left on his current deal.

“Once again, nothing positive is going to come from discussing any of this, our strategy, how we deal with players, how we deal with this situation or others,” Baalke said. “I've never seen anything positive come from that.”

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Receiver Brandon Lloyd said he wants to end his career with the team with which he began his career.

During his first stint with the 49ers, Brandon Lloyd wanted to be a rap star. Now in his second go-around with the team, he wants to be a teacher, something for which – unlike his rap career – he is receiving positive reviews.

“His routes are so good, man,” said Chris Cook, one of several cornerbacks who raved about how much they’ve learned from going against the veteran wide receiver in practice.

“Everything he runs, it just looks like he’s about to take off and go straight down the field. You can’t really get good reads on his routes. It makes you stay honest and play your technique true.”

Rookie cornerback Dontae Johnson agreed.

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Receiver Brandon Lloyd said he wants to end his career with the team with which he began his career.

During his first stint with the 49ers, Brandon Lloyd wanted to be a rap star. On his second go-around with the team, he wants to be a teacher, something for which – unlike his rap career – he is receiving positive reviews.

“His routes are so good, man,” said Chris Cook, one of several cornerbacks who have raved about how much they've learned from going against the veteran receiver in practice.

“Everything he runs, it just looks like he's about to take off and go straight down the field. You can't really get good reads on his routes. It makes you stay honest and play your technique true.”

Rookie cornerback Dontae Johnson agreed.

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Mexico will play its first post-World Cup match at Levi’s Stadium.

Levi’s Stadium, which will get broken in Saturday when the MLS San Jose Earthquakes host the Seattle Sounders, will be the sight of an even bigger soccer match later this year. The 49ers announced today that the Mexican National Team, which has a huge following in Northern California, will play against Chile on Sept. 6. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The 49ers will play preseason games at Levi’s Stadium on Aug. 17 and Aug. 24. Their first regular-season game is Sept. 14 in a prime-time matchup against the Bears.

The match in Santa Clara is the first of two for the Mexican National Team in the U.S. this September. El Tricolor, and its entertaining coach, Miguel Herrera, also will play Sept. 9 vs. Bolivia in Denver as the team prepares for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa America tournaments.

Earthquakes season ticket holders, Levi’s Stadium SBL owners and Visa accountholders will get first dibs on tickets today. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday at 10 a.m.

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The 49ers will sign ex-Arizona runner Alfonso Smith to help bolster their depleted running-backs corps.

The 49ers received a reinforcement to their dwindling running backs corps in the form of Alfonso Smith, who spent the last four seasons with the division rival Arizona Cardinals, typically entering games on third downs.

Smith, 27, carried the ball 18 times for 54 yards last season in Arizona and had a role on coverage units on special teams. He had one touchdown and one lost fumble, which came during a 32-20 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco. He broke the news himself on Instagram on Monday: “I’m a Niner Babeeeeee!” he wrote. Smith, from San Bernardino, went undrafted out of Kentucky in 2010.

His steady play, however, won him a spot on the Cardinals roster for four seasons. While most teams keep four running backs on the roster, Arizona kept five over that span with Smith (6-1, 209) playing a key role on special teams as well. He finished with nine tackles last season.

To make room for Smith, the 49ers waived/injured guard Fouimalo Fonoti, an undrafted rookie. Fonoti suffered an injury Sunday and limped off the field. He had been playing right guard with the second-team offense.

Jeff Chiu/ The Associated Press
Eric Mangini was formerly head coach with the Jets and Browns, and wants to be a head coach again.
Uncredited/ The Associated Press
Eric Mangini

Eric Mangini may not have had experience coaching tight ends before the year began, but he already was quite familiar with his most prominent pupil.

In 2006, Mangini, who became the 49ers’ tight ends coach in February, was the new head coach of the New York Jets, who had the fourth pick in the draft after managing just four wins the previous season.

As April crept closer, Mangini said the Jets narrowed their options to two prospects: Virginia offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson or a tight end out of Maryland named Vernon Davis.

New York had a huge need at left tackle at the time and tapped Ferguson, who has started every game since and who has made three Pro Bowls. But Mangini said it was an extremely close call and that the Jets still were debating the choice the night before the draft.

See what The Bee's Matt Barrows had to say during Monday's a live chat focusing on the 49ers, who are in camp and in pads, beginning earnest preparation for the upcoming NFL season.

Live chat: Real work begins for 49ers, 1 p.m. July 28

Access live chat from all mobile devices here.

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Third-round draft pick Chris Borland was one of several standouts on defense for the 49ers Sunday.

All offseason, Jim Harbaugh has talked about how the defensive line is a “position of strength” for the 49ers. That's been on display over the last two days of padded practice, including on Sunday.

The second-team offensive line has been overmatched, even when starting linemen Justin Smith (shoulder), Ray McDonald and Glenn Dorsey aren't on the field. Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs have been filling in at defensive end with the first-string string defense, and Jerod-Eddie flashed in Sunday's practice.

Their backups, Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, also have looked good. Dial is very big and he got the better of first-team (for now) right tackle Jonathan Martin on a couple of plays late in the practice. And that's not mentioning Lawrence Okoye, who is perhaps the strongest player on the team and someone who has been hard to handle at times, especially on his bull rush.

The big dilemma for the 49ers: Who stays and who goes when rosters are reduced late next month. NFL teams must trim rosters to 75 players by Aug. 26. they must be down to 53 men on Aug. 30.

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


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.

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