At the conclusion of the 49ers' three-day mini-camp, coach Mike Nolan reiterated his plan to maintain the 3-4 scheme he installed last season. Prior to the draft, the 49ers were severely lacking in outside linebackers because of the free-agent losses of starters Julian Peterson and Andre Carter.
Smith figures to have a much greater role than a year ago, when he recorded two tackles on defense in 14 games after winning a roster spot with an impressive exhibition season.
"I would hope he'd play a bigger role this year," Nolan said. "We'll see how that goes. We're hopeful of that and we'll just have to see if he can handle it. He did a real nice job in preseason last year and then we moved him into the full-time linebacker spot, and so some of the coverage things we do took a little bit off for him. But he's doing better."
--The 49ers are hopeful recently acquired backup quarterback Trent Dilfer will be available to take part in the team's organized team activities after undergoing surgery in February to repair a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee.
The 49ers' OTAs are scheduled for May 29-June 15. Players are scheduled to report to training camp on July 27 at the team's Santa Clara (Calif.) practice facility.
"I'm certain it's not so long that he wouldn't be here for training camp," Nolan said of Dilfer. "As far as the OTAs go, that's what I'm hopeful of. He did say that he went out the other day and started to do some drops and he said it felt good."
Seven other 49ers were held out of the team's recently completed mini-camp, but the club believes all but three of those players will be ready for the team's next round of off-field activities.
Nolan said center Jeremy Newberry (right knee), safety Tony Parrish (left leg) and receiver Derrick Hamilton (left knee) probably will not get back on the field prior to training camp. Parrish had a spiral fracture that ended his season after nine games last year.
"I don't know how long his will be," Nolan said. "I'm looking for training camp. If he can do it by the OTAs, great, but I'm not banking on it. We'll see. We haven't made any decision yet."
Three players who ended the season on injured reserve and running back Frank Gore, who underwent off-season surgeries on both shoulders, are expected back during the OTAs. Running back Kevan Barlow (left knee), tackle Jonas Jennings (right shoulder) and tight end Eric Johnson (right foot) did not take part in team work at the mini-camp but are expected back on the field later this month.
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