When a team is coming off a 14-4 season and returns 11 starters on defense and nine starters on offense, there aren't going to be a lot of position battles during training camp. That's the case with the San Francisco 49ers, who find themselves in an enviable situation going into 2012.
Here are three position battles to keep an eye on during training camp:
RG -- Alex Boone vs. Daniel Kilgore vs. Mike Person. Starting camp, Boone has a leg up over Kilgore and Person. At 6-foot-8, Boone is uncharacteristically tall for an interior OL, but coach Jim Harbaugh said during offseason workouts that he was impressed with the Ohio State product's bend. Eventually, rookie Joe Looney could factor into the equation, but he's still rehabbing from a Lisfranc (foot) injury that he suffered at the Senior Bowl. The fourh-round pick out of Vanderbilt said Wednesday he's studying both guard positions, but he's been told to mainly focus on RG. Rookie Jason Slowey, who was drafted out of Division-II Western Oregon, has focused primarily on center, but he said Wednesday he's starting to learn both guard spots as well.
Backup QB -- Colin Kaepernick vs. Josh Johnson. It may seem strange that Kaepernick, a second-round pick who hasn't played a meaningful down in the NFL, could slip to No. 3 on the depth chart in his second season, but that could very well take place. Kaepernick will compete for the backup job with Johnson, the former Tampa Bay QB who was recruited and played for coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. The competition has an interesting dynamic because they have known each other since their high school days when they were tutored together by Northern California private QB coach Roger Theder. “He was a lot bigger than me then,” Johnson said Wednesday. “He's still bigger than me.” Johnson made it clear the competition will have no effect on their friendship. Scott Tolzien appears to be the odd man out.
OLB -- Aldon Smith vs. Parys Haralson. Last year, Smith subbed in for Haralson during passing situations and nearly won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in the limited role. This year, the coaching staff is expecting more from Smith, which means Haralson's role will likely diminish. “One thing Parys was really good at last year was playing the run,” DC Vic Fangio said. “(Smith must) be as good or better as Parys was, playing the run." If Smith hasn't shown he's progressed with his play against the run, the team will be fine with the rotation it used last year.
Follow 49ers reporter Kyle Bonagura on Twitter: @CBSportsNFLSF and @KyleBonagura.