San Francisco 49ers

July 30, 2014

2014 could shape up as breakout year for 49ers LB Corey Lemonier

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

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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.

The 49ers might have to tap into that right away.

Team officials expect starting outside linebacker Aldon Smith to be suspended for multiple games – no one has a read yet on how many – early in the season after he pleaded no contest to DUI and weapons charges in May.

Lemonier and Dan Skuta filled in last year when Smith checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center following a September DUI incident. They did the same Wednesday while Smith was in Los Angeles putting closure on the bomb-threat incident at Los Angeles International Airport in April.

No charges were filed in the incident. However, Smith was ordered by the L.A. city attorney’s office to attend a hearing where he gave his side of the story and was instructed on how to avoid a similar situation in the future. The matter is now considered closed, a spokesman with the city attorney’s office said.

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.

Smith still must meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York regarding his recent court case. That meeting could occur next week when the 49ers are in Baltimore for a preseason game and several intersquad practices with the Ravens.

The 49ers won all five of the games Smith missed last year.The combination of Skuta, who played on base downs, and Lemonier, who played on passing downs, worked well. Lemonier, whose tall, long-armed physique is similar to Smith’s, finished the season with 15 tackles, one sack, a safety, two batted-down passes and a forced fumble.

But the debut didn’t satisfy Lemonier, which is why he was intent on reshaping his body this offseason.

“I’m a big critic of myself,” he said. “So I use last year as an example: Never go back to last year. Keep on progressing.”

Bracing for contact – Coach Jim Harbaugh said LaMichael James will wear a brace on his arm when he returns from a dislocated elbow. The running back has suffered the same injury – to different arms – three times since high school.

James went down during a blitz pickup drill Sunday. He is expected to miss about a month, but Harbaugh said he should be back in time for the start of the regular season.

“LaMichael has (predicted) a shorter amount of time,” Harbaugh said. “He’s had the injury before, so we’ll see. I’m hopeful and go with LaMichael’s estimation.”

Injuries – Starting cornerbacks Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver missed their second consecutive practice with minor injuries. One of their replacements, Perrish Cox, intercepted Colin Kaepernick twice.

Receiver Michael Crabtree left practice early. If he’s dealing with an injury, it does not appear serious. Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs did not practice.

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