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Saturday, June 14, 2014
Mailbag: Is Aldon Smith elite?

By Bill Williamson

Weekend mail call:

Rory from San Francisco wants to know if I think Carlos Hyde or Marcus Lattimore will get first crack at taking carries away from Frank Gore.

Bill Williamson: I’d think it‘s going to be Hyde. They used a premium pick on him, he was the 57th overall pick, and he’s healthy. Latitmore is coming back from a major knee injury he suffered at South Carolina in 2012. I think the future is bright for Lattimore, but the 49ers will be cautious with him, So, I think Hyde will be given the first opportunity.

Terry from Hayward, California, wants to know if I think 49ers’ defensive end Aldon Smith is an elite player. Pro Football Focus has him ranked a slot below elite.

BW: As a pass-rusher he is elite. There is no question about that. He is dominant as a pass-rusher. His overall game is coming along as well. Remember, he is just 24. I think he has a chance to be elite very soon. But, of course, the biggest question about Smith is always about his off-field issues. There’s not much to worry about him on the field.

Dan from Salt Lake City wants to know if I think Colin Kaepernick will play relaxed now that he has signed an extension through the 2020 season.

BW: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said last week he believes that will be the case. But because Kaepernick has money on the line if he can lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl and if he earns All-Pro, I think he will always have an edge. His contract is designed so that the better Kaepernick plays the more he gets paid. That isn’t a bad thing for anyone involved.