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San Francisco 49ers

Stadium: Candlestick Park | Coach: Jim Harbaugh
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense9th167.0 (3rd)214.0 (22nd)
Defense3rd124.0 (20th)157.0 (2nd)

Kaepernick takes part in workouts

The Sports Xchange
 
Strategy And Personnel · Kaepernick takes part in workouts · Notes, Quotes
 

--San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick joined teammates for player-only workouts in this San Jose area last week, according to The Sacramento Bee. Kaepernick arrived Wednesday and took part in Friday's throwing session. Kaepernick is expected to be groomed in 2011 behind Alex Smith, who will be a free agent when the lockout ends but is expected to re-sign with the team. Kaepernick received a copy of the playbook shortly after the draft, but hasn't been able to have any communication with the coaching staff since.

The Bee also reported that wide receiver Michael Crabtree has not attended the workouts.

Kaepernick underwent surgery shortly after the draft on his lower leg. The 49ers said they were aware of the injury, and Kaepernick said after the draft that it's "nothing serious."

Agent Scott Smith said the lockout helped the decision to have the decision now. Said Smith, "He certainly could have (waited). He played four games at Nevada and barely talked about it. Because of the lockout, the timing was as good as it's going to get."

--The 49ers' quarterback cupboard was bare, and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert was sitting there at pick No. 7, ripe for the taking.

San Francisco ended up taking a Missouri product, but it was Gabbert's defensive teammate, Aldon Smith, who got the call. Smith played defensive end in the Tigers' 4-3 scheme, but he will switch to outside linebacker in Vic Fangio's 3-4 defense with the 49ers.

Smith is expected to beef up a pass defense that finished 24th last season and to add needed pressure from the outside. The 49ers haven't had a consistent edge rusher since Charles Haley. Last year's starters at outside linebacker, Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson, combined for 6.5 sacks.

Smith, meanwhile, had 5.5 sacks last year for Missouri. But he missed three games with a broken right fibula and played the remainder of the season before the injury was completely healed.

Coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers cited Smith's grit after they made the surprise pick.

"That struck a chord with me," Harbaugh said. "I know usually bones take 4-6 weeks to heal. You could tell he was playing on it, limping at times. There's a toughness aspect there both mentally and physically that I was impressed with. Strong, tough guy who shows he loves football. All of those things when I say the wiring, kind of the all-American type of young man, that's what I mean by that."

The 49ers had conversations with four or five teams - including Atlanta - about trading down Thursday, but they never came close to a deal. General manager Trent Baalke said the team considered Gabbert, who ended up being selected three spots later by the Jaguars.

In fact, he and Harbaugh flew together to Columbia, Mo. to see Gabbert work out last month. But they also made the trip to see Smith, who Baalke said had a rare combination of power and finesse.

Fangio wants to build an aggressive, blitzing defense like the one friend Dom Capers has in Green Bay. Led by outside linebacker Clay Matthews, Jr., the Packers led the NFC in sacks last season.

The 49ers see Smith lining up at strong-side outside linebacker. Who starts next to him remains to be seen, but Ahmad Brooks, Haralson and Thaddeus Gibson are the likely candidates.

"He's very rarely on the ground unless he's going in to make a tackle," Harbaugh said. "Very rarely does he go to the ground. He's got an uncanny ability with his balance, putting his hand down and being able to get back up, redirect without going to the ground. So, tremendous balance, tremendous hustle he has when he's pursuing the football if he's coming from the back side. Not afraid to go into a pile of bodies headfirst and make the tackle."

--Colin Kaepernick is teeming with promise. He is the only player in NCAA history who threw for more than 10,000 yards and ran for more than 4,000. He has the strongest arm of all the quarterbacks in his draft class and he was a leader - and a winner - at Nevada.

He also has a head coach who was a former quarterback and who has shown a knack for developing them. That should perhaps be the biggest reason for optimism that the team has finally found its quarterback of the future.

Of the themes for the rest of the draft class is that few of the players selected will line up at the positions they played in college.

BEST PICK

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick: Jim Harbaugh is known for being able to mold quarterbacks and he has plenty of raw material in Kaepernick. The Nevada passer has rare arm strength, great height and excellent athleticism. And he showed over the offseason that his conversion to a pro offense may not be as difficult as previously feared.

COULD SURPRISE

Running back Kendall Hunter: Hunter ran for more than 1,500 yards twice at Oklahoma State and has the direct, low-to-the-ground style that is effective at the next level.

A closer look at the 49ers' picks:

Round 1/7 - Aldon Smith, OLB, 6-4, 263, Missouri

The 49ers concede that Smith is raw but feel he is the kind of edge rusher they need in Vic Fangio's aggressive and attacking 3-4 defense.

Round 2/36 - Colin Kaepernick, QB, 6-5, 230, Nevada

Kaepernick is the heir apparent at quarterback in San Francisco but probably will need a year to study under Jim Harbaugh before he is ready to play.

Round 3/80 - Chris Culliver, CB, 6-0, 199, South Carolina

Though Culliver made his biggest splash at safety for the Gamecocks, the 49ers see him as a nickel cornerback at the next level.

Round 4/115 - Kendall Hunter, RB, 5-7, 200, Oklahoma State

When healthy, Hunter was a prolific runner in college and he'll be thrown into the running back rotation with Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon.

Round 5/163 - Daniel Kilgore, C/G, 6-3, 305, Appalachian State

Kilgore has nice athleticism for his size, and the 49ers feel he'd be a good backup at center and guard early in his career.

Round 6/182 - Ronald Johnson, WR, 5-10, 185, Southern Cal

Johnson will have a head start on his fellow rookies because he is already familiar with receivers coach John Morton, who was at Southern Cal last year.

Round 6/190 - Colin Jones, S, 6-0, 208, Texas Christian

Jones has excellent athleticism and looks to make his mark on special teams coverage units.

Round 7/211 - Bruce Miller, FB, 6-1, 248, Central Florida

Miller was a defensive end at UCF that the 49ers feel has the necessary skills and desire to convert to fullback, a position of need on their offense.

Round 7/239 - Mike Person, G/C, 6-4, 299, Montana State

Person played tackle at Montana State, but the 49ers want to slide him inside to guard or possible center.

Round 7/250 - Curtis Holcomb, CB, 5-10, 190, Florida A&M

The 49ers always take a flier on a late-round cornerback, and Holcomb has some intriguing skills and is very physical.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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