NFC West: Alex Boone

49ers winning war in trenches

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
3:00
PM ET
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The key to the San Francisco 49ers regaining their identity as a power-running team?

Of course, you need a running back like Frank Gore. But unless you have an offensive line blowing out a defensive front seven, the point is moot.

The Niners had that dominating O-line last weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs and, the 49ers anticipate, will have it again Monday night at the St. Louis Rams.

[+] EnlargeFrank Gore
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsAgainst the Chiefs, Frank Gore averaged 4.8 yards per carry before first contact with the defense.
Consider: While Gore rushed for 107 yards on 18 carries against Kansas City, only 20 of his yards came after first contact, per ESPN Stats & Information. That means Gore averaged 4.8 yards per carry before he was ever touched by a defensive player (league average is 2.7 yards).

So yeah, the offensive line was blowing out the Chiefs’ defensive line, and Niners fullback Bruce Miller was getting in on the action too.

“I’ve seen something I’ve never seen in football on one of Frank’s long runs, a 15-, 20-yarder where Bruce blocked his man and then Frank ran between Bruce and the defender he was blocking and then came out the other side,” said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. “It was really something to be seen. Almost like those car racers, when they drive through the smoke of an accident. He just went right through it.

“No, he didn’t get touched. He was missing by the narrowest of margins. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a runner run between a blocker and a defender until now.”

Gore has consecutive 100-yard rushing games for the first time since he had five straight in 2011. Plus, eight of his carries Sunday were outside of the left tackle and they gained 53 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

So yeah, he still has burst. And left tackle Joe Staley, who had a career-high grade of plus-7.3 per PFF, was clearing the way.

“He is playing at the highest level,” Harbaugh said of Gore. “When you look at Frank game after game, he keeps doing it and doing it and doing it. He’s done it and done it and done it. He keeps doing it.”

Kansas City was already giving up chunk runs, but the Chiefs do have an imposing front seven -- on paper.

“Especially against that front,” right guard Alex Boone said when asked how good the Niners’ blocking was against the Chiefs. “Their defense really runs to the ball. It was a good game for us.”

Now they face a Rams defense that is struggling as far as racking up stats. St. Louis is allowing nearly 5 yards per carry and has only one sack through four games.

“That’s deceptive,” Boone said. “They’re a very deceiving team. They can hurt you. We’ve got to shut them down early.”

Or blow them off the line of scrimmage.

Boone or Looney? Looney or Boone?

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
2:30
PM ET
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As a phalanx of media members and cameras surrounded him Wednesday afternoon, San Francisco 49ers right guard Alex Boone laughed.

“You know something I don’t know?” he wondered.

The question was an obvious one: After ending his holdout six days before the Niners’ season opener and playing sparingly at the Dallas Cowboys, would he regain his starting position for the christening of Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium?

Boone
Kampman
Looney
Boone smiled and shook his head.

“Honestly,” he said, “I don’t know. It’s really up to the coaches. I just go out and practice and continue to learn every day and get better. It just comes down to how they feel.”

In Dallas, Joe Looney started at right guard, as he did throughout the preseason in Boone’s absence, and earned an overall grade of just -2.3 from Pro Football Focus.

Plus, PFF had Boone playing only four offensive snaps against the Cowboys, all as an extra lineman.

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh would not tip his hand on which player would get the start against the Chicago Bears this Sunday.

“We’ll make that decision,” Harbaugh said. “Both (are) fine players and we’ll make that decision as the week goes on. And we might have already made it.

“But again, we wouldn’t need to give that information out.”

Fair enough. But also chew on this possibility: As right tackle Anthony Davis, whose 64-game playing streak came to an end in the opener, missed practice Wednesday with a hamstring strain, might the 49ers flip Boone, who started every game the previous two years at right guard, to right tackle?

Jonathan Martin, who has been playing in place of Davis, had a relatively decent PFF grade of +0.8 against the Cowboys to go with left tackle Joe Staley (-1.2 overall, -3.2 in pass protection, +1.8 run blocking), left guard Mike Iupati (-1.8 overall) and center Daniel Kilgore (+1.1).

Per PFF, 18 of the 25 runs by 49ers running backs were outside the tackles, picking up 4.1 yards per carry.

Last week, Boone and his new two-year, $6 million contract got in work on the scout team, preparing the defensive starters for a skill set more closely resembling what they would face against Dallas than what a regular scout teamer would offer.

“It was awesome,” Boone said. “Practicing against Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Patrick Willis? It’s always fun to play with them. Whatever I can do to help the team get better.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- So what was Alex Boone mostly occupied with during his lengthy holdout, which came to an end Monday?

“Really, just laying on the couch, holding my babies, not doing much,” the San Francisco 49ers right guard said Tuesday afternoon in the team’s locker room. “That’s about it.”

Boone
Well, not quite.

Boone was also in Chandler, Arizona, working out six days a week with former NFL offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley and trying to stay in shape for the regular season.

As such, without a single preseason or training camp snap, Boone believes he could step in Sunday in the 49ers’ season opener at the Dallas Cowboys and reclaim his starting job from Joe Looney. The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Boone has started 32 straight games.

“That’s up to the coaches,” he said. “Personally, I think I’ll be very effective.”

Per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Boone’s previous contract, which would have paid him up to $4 million over the next two years, was torn up in favor of a new two-year deal, with an increase in salary and incentives if he reaches the Pro Bowl. The 49ers also will not be able to use their franchise tag on Boone once the new contract has expired, sources told Schefter.

Boone acknowledged the no-tag provision, saying he wanted to ultimately experience free agency.

“Like all things, this is a business,” he said. “I have to look after my wife and kids. That’s the most important thing to me. Happy that we came to an agreement, though, very happy to be back here and happy to be playing with the 49ers again.”

The 49ers received a roster exemption for Boone but will have to make a move before adding him to the 53-man roster.

“I knew eventually we would come together and get something done,” Boone said. “I think at first it was just kind of stalemated because you had two hard stances going against each other.

“Both sides knew that we needed to come together on something and, like I said, it was a win-win for everybody.”
Alex Boone is ending his holdout, per Adam Schefter’s report, and will join the San Francisco 49ers in time for Week 1 of the NFL season. It should only help the team’s starting offense, which struggled to generate points in the preseason – two field goals in seven possessions.

Boone
But is Boone ready to step in at his right guard spot and contribute immediately, or will he need more than a few days of practice to not only knock off the rust but get into better condition before the season opener at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday?

In their initial 53-man roster unveiled Sunday, the 49ers had eight offensive linemen. Only six of them, though, were healthy as right tackle Anthony Davis is still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery and rookie backup center Marcus Martin dislocated a kneecap, per reports, and coach Jim Harbaugh said he was told by doctors that Martin’s timeline to return was six weeks away.

As such, the odd man out, then, would appear to be undrafted rookie Dillon Farrell, a somewhat surprising inclusion to the initial 53.

Joe Looney has performed admirably in Boone’s absence. Jonathan Martin has done the same in place of Davis in the 49ers’ makeshift right side of the offensive line through the preseason.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- With right guard Alex Boone's holdout entering its fourth week and right tackle Anthony Davis just beginning to do individual work this week as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, the right side of the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line is in flux.

Kampman
Looney
Martin
After all, since Davis' rookie season of 2010, the 49ers have averaged 5.1 yards per rush to the right side, the fourth-best such figure in the NFL in that time frame, per ESPN Stats & Info.

But in two preseason games, Joe Looney has started at right guard and Jonathan Martin at right tackle and the 49ers like what they have seen so far from the current right side of their line, even if the team is 0-2 while getting outscored by a combined 57-3.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers "can win with Joe Looney" and was also effuisive in his praise for Martin, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft.

"Jonathan Martin has done very well," Harbaugh said. "(He’s) been a great addition to our football team. Sure glad we got him. Like everybody else on our football team, (he’s) working to improve in certain areas. He’s been very effective and efficient."

Davis, it should be noted, has never missed a game in his four-year career and he told reporters this week that he did not need to play in an exhibition to be ready for the 49ers' season opener at the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 7.

49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said if and when Davis returns, Martin’s versatility will be a boon for him and the team.

"I think John’s a guy that can play probably four positions on the offensive line," Roman said. "And at some point you’d like to be able to get him some work in those areas. We’ll see how that goes."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Colin Kaepernick’s salary cap-friendly contract extension was constructed that way, in part, to help free up money for the San Francisco 49ers to lock up other key cogs on the roster.

But with right guard Alex Boone’s holdout waged on, the 49ers quarterback was asked if he would like for some of that money to go to Boone.

“I think that’s something that the front office, that’s their decision,” Kaepernick said. “For me, I tried to do something where we gave them space to be able to get players back now. Who they sign and what they do with it is really up to them.”

Coach Jim Harbaugh would not touch the topic.

“As always, we don’t talk about contracts publically,” Harbaugh said. “Rarely do we talk about it in any form or fashion. We don’t feel it’s in anybody’s best interest to do that.”

While starters like running back Frank Gore, receiver Michael Crabtree, left guard Mike Iupati and cornerback Chris Culliver are entering contract years, Boone was signed to a four-year extension on Dec. 8, 2011, that runs through the 2015 season. Boone did not take part in any of the team's offseason activities and is subject to a $30,000 a day fine, per CSNBayArea.com.

The 49ers have more than $8.2 million in salary-cap space, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Examining the San Francisco 49ers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers will likely only carry two quarterbacks. They finished last season that way. The competition will be to see if undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner can take McLeod Bethel-Thompson's spot on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

The fact that the 49ers drafted Hyde in the second round and Lattimore is healthy means some tough decisions will have to be made. Hunter is too valuable to let go. That means 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James will have difficulty making the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

The 49ers are so much deeper here this year than last. That means they will likely have to keep six receivers. Lloyd may look good and Patton has too much potential to give up on. That means it could be tough for Kassim Osgood to make it even though he is a special teams cog.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

If Davis ends his holdout, I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek has a big camp, he may be in trouble. Carrier intrigues the 49ers because of his size and speed.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

Assuming Boone ends his holdout, this is a pretty nice group of eight players. It's improved from last year. A solid veteran like Adam Snyder and a promising youngster like Ryan Seymour will have trouble making the team.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

This is another power spot. It's deep. Players like Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. Ramsey has looked good and I have a hunch the 49ers may like him too much to expose him to the waiver wire. That means Demarcus Dobbs could be in trouble.

LINEBACKERS (7)

Most teams carry six linebackers but the 49ers are stacked here, especially with NaVorro Bowman out for about half the season. Because fifth-round pick Lynch is promising he should make the roster. Dan Skuta is an excellent player, but there might not be any room for him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.

CORNERBACKS (5)

This unit is in flux, but I see Johnson making it. Don't be surprised if there is some in-camp jockeying as the 49ers look for the best mix.

SAFETIES (5)

Ward, the 49ers' first-round pick, will play nickel cornerback as a rookie, but projects long term as a safety. Ventrone and Spillman should stick because they are great on special teams. Craig Dahl could be in trouble.

SPECIALISTS (3):

This group is set and it's excellent.
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation's Bill Williamson examines the three biggest issues facing the San Francisco 49ers heading into training camp.

The holdouts: The 49ers, fresh off three straight trips to the NFC title game and seemingly poised for another long postseason run, have the weathered many storms this offseason.

Yes, there are some issues that still linger. The 49ers do not know if tight end Vernon Davis and/or guard Alex Boone will continue their holdouts into training camp.

Both players stayed away from voluntary workouts, and then became official holdouts when they did not report to mandatory minicamp last month.

Both Davis and Boone want a new deal. There are indications Boone will stay away until he gets a new contract. Davis has wavered, but he could also miss a chunk of camp.

Both players are key to the offense and would be missed. The 49ers would have to rely on youth at both spots if the holdouts linger. Vance McDonald would play for Davis and Joe Looney would play for Boone. Neither player is the caliber of the player they’d replace.

Aldon Smith: The 49ers head to training camp not completely sure of the future of the standout pass-rusher. The 49ers are set to start training camp next Wednesday. Two days later, Smith is set to be sentenced for pleading no contest to three felony gun charges. He could face some jail time.

He could also be facing an NFL suspension. If Smith is out, the 49ers will need to find some more pass-rush help, and that’s what training camp will be for. Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier helped the 49ers go 5-0 last season when Smith was in a treatment center. The team also drafted Aaron Lynch in the fifth round. If these players show a pass-rush burst in camp, that will make the 49ers feel better about the prospect of playing a long chunk without Smith.

New firepower: The 49ers have big potential on offense. Training camp and the preseason will be a time for the unit to gel and figure out the best approach to use all of the talent. The receiving crew is beefed up with addition of Stevie Johnson, through a trade with Buffalo, veteran Brandon Lloyd and fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington.

The depth of this season’s receiving group is light years ahead of last year’s unit. The thought of Johnson being the No. 3 receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree is silly. Ellington, a South Carolina product, gives the 49ers an element they missed last season -- a burner who can take the top of the defense.

At running back -- the heart of the 49ers’ offense is still the ground attack -- Frank Gore will have second-round pick Carlos Hyde and Marcus Lattimore, who appears to be healthy after missing last season while recovering from a 2012 torn ACL.

Hyde has looked great as a runner and receiver in the offseason. The second-round pick from Ohio State has a chance to make a big impact.

All of these new weapons of course, should help the overall game of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is entering his second full season as a starter.

The 49ers have big capabilities on offense, but the real work begins now.
Alex Boone's contract could be a long storyline for the San Francisco 49ers this summer.

Boone
The 49ers start training camp practices next week. Boone is not expected to report without a new contract.

Unlike fellow minicamp holdout, star tight end Vernon Davis, Boone appears bent on staying away until he gets a new deal. Davis recently said it wouldn't be the “end of the world” if his holdout doesn't result in a new deal. Both Boone and Davis have two more seasons remaining on their contracts.

How did we get to this point with Boone?

Really, this has been developing ever since the 49ers signed the guard as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2009. From that point on, he was working his way up financially.

In 2011, the 49ers gave Boone a five-year $8.04 million deal when he was a backup tackle. On one hand, it was a nice deal for a former undrafted player who overcame off-field issues. In reality, Boone signed a deal for a backup player.

In the past two seasons, Boone has developed into a top guard in the NFL. He is a leader of the 49ers and, at 26, his best football is ahead of him. Thus, he has far outplayed a deal that was designed for a backup.

Yes, he's under contract, but he hasn't signed a sweetheart deal yet. Davis, 30, has gotten a big pay day. He is the third highest-paid tight end in the NFL. Boone is the 43rd highest guard in the NFL. It would be difficult to find a scout who doesn't think Boone is a top-10 guard.

At this point, I bet Boone would take top-15 guard money. Yes, the 49ers have other looming contracts (receiver Michael Crabtree and guard Mike Iupati are entering the final seasons of their deals and the team is considering giving tackle Joe Staley a new deal), and no, they don't believe in tearing up existing deals.

But the truth is, Boone is working on a deal signed when the team had entirely different expectations of him as a player. That's why there is an impasse a week away from the start of a season in which Boone is supposed to be entering his prime as a top-notch guard.
Vernon Davis has switched gears often while staying away from the San Francisco 49ers this offseason.

We received an indication Friday that the star tight end, who is a holdout after missing the team’s mandatory minicamp last week, will not hold out into the season.

Davis
He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week: “There are no worries. There is nothing that I can stress about. It’s obvious that we want a new contract. I want a new contract. It’s just like any athlete, we all want a new contract. But I’m not going to stress over it. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get it. If I get it, that’s good. It’s moving slowly, but surely. At the end of the day, if I don’t get the deal, at least I tried and I put my foot down. If I don’t get it at the moment, I’m not going to lose any sleep.”

OK, so there it is. It is not the end of the world if he doesn’t get a new deal. I’m sure that will be duly noted by the 49ers. Davis is the third-highest-paid tight end in the NFL. And the team is likely not inclined to bypass other financial priorities to give Davis a new deal.

However, guard Alex Boone, the team’s other holdout, likely will not have the same feeling. I get the impression Boone won't report until he gets a new deal. He is the 43rd-highest-paid guard in the league.

So, unlike Davis, it could be the end of the world for Boone if there is no deal.


SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As the San Francisco 49ers start their month-plus break before training camp, the top story surrounding the team during this quiet time will surely be the holdouts of tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone.

Boone
Davis
Both became official holdouts when they missed the three-day mandatory minicamp that ended Thursday.

Don't expect much news for the next few weeks unless either player unexpectedly signs a new deal. I'd be surprised if anything happens quickly with either player who are both signed through the 2015 season. Boone is the holdout who I think may have a chance to get something done.

The reasons are clear: Boone is 26 and Davis is 30. Davis has already received a big pay day and he is already the third highest paid player at his position. Boone is the 38th highest paid guard in the league.

I know the 49ers are not interested in redoing any contracts that have multiple years remaining, but with Boone steadfast in his stance, the team may have to. There is a strong chance his holdout hits training camp.

Davis' situation is tougher to forecast since he wavered on his stance before sitting out the minicamp. I wouldn't be surprised if we hear from Davis in the next month. As we learned from the last past two weeks, Davis can change his mind.

Davis' and Boone's chances of being ready for their Week 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys could be affected the later they hold out into training camp. Once we get to that territory, things could get dicey. Talks of year-long holdouts and possible trades will surface. It could turn ugly quickly.

But that's a long way away. There will be plenty of twists in these sagas, but just don't expect much to change soon.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Prior to the San Francisco 49ers' first mandatory minicamp practice, offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he was looking for sharp workouts.

The 49ers didn't exactly deliver.

There were plenty of drops in a mostly mundane workout. However, I wouldn't exactly say it's cause for alarm. It's June and a lot of players were held out or limited. This is not high-intensity times.

It's a time to continue to work on rhythm before the team takes a month break before starting training camp.

The 49ers worked a lot of red zone offense Tuesday. They often stalled in the red zone last season, settling for field goals.

Roman said Tuesday he hopes to see an evolved offense in 2014. With a more experienced Colin Kaepernick, deeper receiving core and rookie running back Carlos Hyde, Roman likes the potential changes.

"I think it's fair to make the statement that it's a different offense, 2014. Because we've got some new guys in," Roman said. "I think it's definitely evolved from (from when he arrived to San Francisco with coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011) and it'll probably change a little bit this year."

In other camp notes:
  • Hyde and rookie receiver Bruce Ellington each had their moments Tuesday. Roman praised Hyde for his football knowledge. "Carlos, since he got here from the draft, really impressed me as a guy that football just makes sense to him," Roman said. "If you could just tell him what to do, and you don't have to tell him too much. And that's a beautiful thing in a running back because they have a lot of adjustments to make and protection, etc."
  • Several veterans such as running back Frank Gore and Justin Smith sat out practices as they did in the voluntary practices. It's just saving older players wear-and-tear. Receivers Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson didn't work in team drills as the team is being cautious.
  • Receiver Brandon Lloyd continued to make some nice catches as he continues to make a push to make the 53-man roster.
  • Roman was complimentary of young tight ends Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier as they get time with Vernon Davis holding out. McDonald is set to get the most time if Davis stays away. The 2013 second-round pick had some drops Tuesday, which was a problem in his rookie season.
  • Fifth-round pick Aaron Lynch, who will be a pass-rusher, didn't practice because of a hamstring injury. Seventh-round pick Kaleb Ramsey at defensive tackle looked solid. He will be interesting to watch in training camp and in the preseason.
  • Harbaugh maintained that he thinks Gore can play three more years. He is 31 and entering the final year of his contract.
  • Blaine Gabbert has the edge to be to Kaepernick's backup. Harbaugh heaped praise on him. "Very impressed with Blaine mentally, physically -- all attributes that you'd like to see in a quarterback. He's been very good, very solid. (He's) picked up everything very quickly. It's going well. Everything is progressing well. I think you'll watch it when you have a chance to see it today and look at it for yourself. In my eye, it looks very good."
  • Harbaugh said he is optimistic right tackle Anthony Davis will be ready for the start of training camp. He had shoulder surgery in April.
  • Running back Marcus Lattimore looked good and he is working full-go. He missed all of last season as he recovered from a torn ACL he suffered at South Carolina in 2012.
  • In a hint third-round pick Marcus Martin could push Daniel Kilgore for the starting center job, Roman heaped high praise on the rookie. "I think Marcus has done a really good job coming in as a rookie. The center position, there's so much that a center has to do in this league week-to-week," Roman said. "There's just so many different adjustments and whatnot. He's done a really good job so far against our defense, not only physically, but mentally as well."
  • Roman said he is happy with the play of Joe Looney at right guard. He is working with the starters with Alex Boone holding out.

Now that Vernon Davis and Alex Boone are officially holdouts, one aspect of it did come as a surprise.

Davis' holdout.

Hunker down on the Boone situation. It could take a while. I've been under the impression since April that Boone has no intention of coming into camp unless he gets a new deal. Unless Boone changes course and decides he can't stay away, the only way he comes in is with an extension.

The 49ers are also steadfast in their stance. It's their policy not to tear up existing deals and give players new contracts. Giving in to Boone might set a bad precedent.

But something will have to give. Boone, who has two years left on his deal, is the 38th highest paid guard in football. He is much better than that.

He and his agents are well aware of that fact and prepared to dig in.

As for Davis, I thought he'd be in camp. He said he would be there. Yet it seems like he's ready to stay away.

It will be interesting to see if Davis has the gumption to stay away once training camp starts. It will be surprising if he stays away for a long time.

He loves football. He loves being part of the spotlight. I think it'd kill him to stay away.

Plus he doesn't have much leverage. He is the third-highest-paid tight end in the NFL. At 30, he has two years left on his deal. While he is surely an on-field priority for the 49ers now, I doubt they want to commit more big money to him with players such as receiver Michael Crabtree entering the final years of their deals.

In other words, it's unlikely the 49ers are feeling pressured by this decision, even though they definitely want Davis back. I just have a feeling this one will be sorted out more easily than the Boone dispute.
The San Francisco 49ers will have their mandatory minicamp from Tuesday-Thursday. Here’s some things to watch for:

Davis
Boone
Will Davis and Boone show? Both tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone have stayed away from the voluntary portion of the offseason. That’s over. Starting Tuesday, everything the 49ers do as a team is mandatory and each player can be fined if they aren’t present. Davis has said he “should be” at the minicamp. Boone has not said a word publicly about his plans. However, I’ve gotten the sense Boone is prepared not to show up until he gets a new deal. If neither player is at practice Tuesday, they will be holdouts and the stakes will change with their absences.

The cornerbacks: This is the biggest position of change. Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are gone. Chris Culliver will start, but he is still working back from a torn ACL that kept him out all of last season. He should be fine for camp, but don’t expect him to go full-go in this camp. First-round pick Jimmie Ward is set to be the nickelback, but he is coming off a foot injury. He should be ready for training camp. A player of note in the minicamp is free-agent pickup Chris Cook. He will be in the rotation. Cook, who signed from Minnesota, has ideal size. He has looked good in the OTA sessions.

Offensive line: This unit, the pride and joy of the 49ers, should be fine in the long run, but it’s a little rough right now. Boone has been absent. Right tackle Anthony Davis is recovering from a shoulder injury and won’t be there until camp. Daniel Kilgore is taking over from Jonathan Goodwin and trying to hold off rookie Marcus Martin at center. Again, things will settle down, but don’t expect a well-oiled unit this week.

Passing game: Most of the receivers have been out during the voluntary sessions, mostly as precautions or for minor injuries. The passing game was rough in the OTA session that was open to the media last Tuesday. I’d expect to see more receivers during this camp, which is vital to help rhythm with quarterback Colin Kaepernick heading into training camp.

Inside linebackers: NaVorro Bowman is expected to be out until midseason as he recovers from a torn ACL. Michael Wilhoite has the inside shot to start for Bowman, but he will have to hold off Nick Moody and third-round pick Chris Borland.

Pass-rushers: Aldon Smith may face an NFL suspension. The 49ers need some extra pass-rush help. Keys to watch in camp is defensive lineman Tank Carradine, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, and second-year player Corey Lemonier, who looks like he’s added several pounds of muscle. The 49ers would love to see these two young players show a burst in this camp.

Marcus Lattimore: The 49ers are slowly bringing along the 2013 fourth-round draft pick. He has done some things in the OTA session, including showing nice hands out of the backfield. I wouldn’t expect Lattimore to go full-go in this camp, but the 49ers want to see continued comfort, speed and confidence from Lattimore, whom they hope can help this season.
Here are some thoughts in the aftermath of Colin Kaepernick’s huge new contract extension with the 49ers:
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Kaepernick specifically requested his deal allow the 49ers flexibility to negotiate extensions with other players. Schefter reported that Kaepernick’s signing bonus was only $12 million, which is at least half of the usual signing bonuses that come with big quarterback deals. Kaepernick mentioned at his news conference Wednesday that the deal will be designed to allow the 49ers to keep signing key players.
  • Crabtree
    Receiver Michael Crabtree and guard Mike Iupati are free agents after the 2014 season. Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone are staying away from the team in the voluntary portion of the offseason because they want new contracts. Not everyone will get paid, but I think the 49ers will be able to find some money. I’d think Crabtree becomes the next priority. Still, it may not be easy for the team to sign an extension with him before next offseason. But with Kaepernick secured, the franchise tag will be open for Crabtree or Iupati next winter. I’d think Crabtree would be the top candidate to be tagged.
  • Expect to see a relaxed Kaepernick this season. Getting this deal done before training camp takes away the pressure of him having to try to earn the deal during the season and having to talk about it with the media on a regular basis. If the contract wasn’t completed, Kaepernick’s future would be a topic after every 49ers loss in 2014. That takes away a major potential distraction.
  • Kaepernick’s situation was watched closely by other agents. Dating back to last season, I had multiple agents tell me they thought this situation could get ugly and that Kaepernick and his agents would have difficulty with this deal. As it turns out, the deal got done early.
  • This deal may look like a bargain in six months. The 49ers added receiver Stevie Johnson in a trade and running back Carlos Hyde in the draft. The 49ers have huge weapons on offense. Kaepernick is poised for a monster season. Second-year tight end Vance McDonald mentioned Tuesday that Kaepernick has been a bigger leader this offseason than he was last season. The 49ers bought a rising stock.
  • Authorities in Miami want to soon finish an investigation in which Kaepernick is part of a "suspicious incident.” Kaepernick has strongly denied wrongdoing and the 49ers have supported him. Cleary, they don’t expect anything to come of it.
  • It was a classy move by Kaepernick to thank former 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith for mentoring him early in his career.
  • It doesn’t sound like Kaepernick is ready to go on a big spending spree now that he is officially rich. “I think the three most expensive things I own are my TV, my bed and my couch. I’m going to keep it that way for a while,” he said.
  • Kaepernick is well respected by his teammates. That showed Wednesday. Several 49ers tweeted their congratulations to their quarterback for the big deal.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFC WEST SCOREBOARD