If this year’s 49ers training camp has seemed friskier than a traditional Jim Harbaugh-led camp, it’s because there’s more competition than there’s ever been. This is according to Colin Kaepernick, who spoke to reporters before the team flew to Baltimore on Tuesday.
“The first year everyone was just trying to understand and fit in,” Kaepernick said. “I think now everyone is confident in what our offense is doing, what our defense is doing. And we feel that we have such a high caliber of player here that getting a starting spot, getting a spot on this roster, is difficult, and people are fighting for those jobs. And I think that’s where a lot of the tension, a lot of the frustration comes in.”
Compared to a normal NFL training camp, there hasn’t been an exorbitant number of fights in Santa Clara this summer.
Under former coach Mike Nolan, for instance, practice-field scuffles were a near-daily occurrence, with tight end Vernon Davis at the center of just about every one. But they’ve been few and far between the past three seasons under Harbaugh, who has urged players to take care of one another in practice.
There have been at least three dust-ups so far in this year’s camp, and now the 49ers will face the Ravens four times in five days. Following Thursday’s preseason game in Baltimore, the teams will hold joint practices Saturday through Monday at the Ravens’ training camp facility.
At least one Raven thinks a few fists will be thrown.
“Hold on, we share a cafeteria, too?” cornerback Jimmy Smith asked, via The Baltimore Sun. “I don’t know how (joint practices) work. I’ve seen it on TV. But every time I’ve seen it on TV there’s been nothing but fights.”
Smith was the cornerback covering wide receiver Michael Crabtree on incomplete passes in the end zone at the end of the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss in February 2013. Jim Harbaugh vociferously called for a holding penalty against Smith, which he did not get.
“I might wear my Super Bowl ring out to practice,” Smith joked. “Hopefully, (Ravens) Coach (John) Harbaugh’s brother isn’t mad at me for that call or non-call, whatever you want to call it.”
Kaepernick, however, said the Super Bowl loss won’t give the sessions any special meaning.
“This is preseason,” he said. “If it was a regular-season game, yeah, it would be a little bit different, but right now we’re trying to make sure we go out and do things we need to do as a team to get better and get ready for the season.”
An open practice Friday at M&T Bank Stadium was canceled after the 49ers realized it would have put their players on the field for too many days in a row, a violation of the new collective bargaining agreement.
The team has until Sept. 2 to decide what to do with nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, who had surgery Monday on a torn biceps tendon. One option is to put Dorsey on injured reserve with a designation to return. That would allow him to rejoin the squad after Week 8.
Newcomers L’Damian Washington, a receiver, and Glenn Winston, a running back, took part in Tuesday’s practice.