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Darnell Dockett being eased into 49ers' camp after last year's ACL injury

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Darnell Dockett, who missed all of last season recovering from a torn ACL, was conspicuous by his absence from Saturday night’s training camp opening practice for the San Francisco 49ers.

But Niners coach Jim Tomsula said early Sunday afternoon the nearly year-old knee injury had little to do with the defensive end, signed as a free agent from the division rival Arizona Cardinals, sitting things out.

Kinda.

Rather, Tomsula said the early plan is to use the 34-year-old Dockett in nickel packages and not unnecessarily test the knee this early in the Niners’ base 3-4 defense in team drills, against the weight of double-teams.

“He’s ready to go,” Tomsula said of Dockett. “There’s no limitations on him from the training room.”

Glenn Dorsey was at Dockett’s customary left defensive end spot in the Niners’ first-string base defense, with Ian Williams at nose tackle and Quinton Dial at right defensive end.

Dockett has not been made available to the media since veterans began reporting on Friday. But he does come with a bit of a reputation of being “nuts,” as one reporter described to linebacker Aldon Smith. Just take a gander at Dockett’s Twitter feed.

“It’s pretty good,” Smith said, “because I think everybody’s a little nuts.”