Notes, strategy and personnel

Notes and quotes and Niners strategy and personnel from The Insiders.

-- Veteran LB Derek Smith opened training camp at the strong-side position in place of Julian Peterson, who is holding out in a contract dispute. Smith will play Peterson's spot until the two-time Pro Bowl player reports to camp.

Peterson remains in the Bay Area but is not expected to report to camp until late August, at the earliest. While the 49ers have offered a six-year, $37.8 million contract, with a $15.5 million signing bonus, Peterson is demanding $30 million in guaranteed money.

"He is missing a heck of a lot of what we are doing," 49ers coach Dennis Erickson said. "We've added a heck of a lot of things defensively. We're trying to put in some different packages and him not being here hurts that. It really does. That's a fact. That is reality. The sooner he can get in, the better off he is going to be as far as the learning aspect of it."

The 49ers are in the first season with new defensive coordinator Willy Robinson.

-- Erickson said the 49ers' goal remains to win the NFC West and get into the playoffs. While the expectations are low for the 49ers on the national level, Erickson said he is excited about the young team.

"We have to be able to identify our strengths and weaknesses," he said. "You got to make sure you take advantage of your strengths and know how to handle your weaknesses. Everything is so close in this league, if you can stay healthy, a lot of good things can happen. We are going in with the attitude that we can win the division."

-- Although a lot has been made about the 49ers getting away from the Bill Walsh offense, Erickson said much of the same principles of years' past will still apply.

Most of the changes to the offense will be subtle, he said.

"I think you can tell if you know what's going on and see how much more we're in the three-wide receiver offense or how much we are in a two tight end, two wide receiver situations," he said. "But if you're just watching practice and looking at formations I don't know if you can tell the difference."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's what it's all about. Being able to coach is the best thing about this whole thing. The excitement of starting a new camp is there" - Dennis Erickson on whether he still feels the emotions at the start of training camp.


BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Ronnie Heard vs. Dwaine Carpenter for starting FS - Veteran Zack Bronson was released in June after his second consecutive poor season. The battle is open to fill his spot. Heard is a veteran who knows the defense very well, earning the nickname "Coach Heard" from his teammates and former 49ers defensive coordinator Jim Mora. But Heard, who has 10 career starts in four previous NFL seasons, is a bit limited athletically. Carpenter is the player that the coaching staff would like to see step into the role because of his athleticism. He spent three seasons in the arena leagues before getting his first shot with the 49ers last season. He impressed the team during training camp to earn a roster spot. Late in the season, Carpenter made two starts - one at cornerback and one at safety. With more familiarity of the defense, under first-year coordinator Willy Robinson, Carpenter has a chance to be an impact player for the 49ers this season.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: The biggest competition will be at WR, where Brandon Lloyd is penciled in as the starter at split end and Cedrick Wilson is scheduled to start at flanker. However, veteran Curtis Conway, rookies Rashaun Woods and Derrick Hamilton and second-year player Arnaz Battle also figure into the mix. ... Kyle Kosier will compete against rookie Justin Smiley for the starting RG spot. Kosier started 12 games last season at three different positions as a fill-in. Smiley, a second-round draft pick, has already turned heads with his athleticism and tenacity. ... Jimmy Williams vs. Shawntae Spencer at nickel back. Williams has been used sparingly at cornerback in his two-year career, while Spencer was a second-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh. ... The No. 3 DT position is up for grabs, with rookie Isaac Sopoaga, Michael Landry and Josh Shaw the main guys fighting for a spot in the rotation.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: QB Ken Dorsey - The second-year quarterback from Miami took advantage of all the attention he received in the offseason. With the injury that sidelined starting quarterback Tim Rattay, the 49ers turned the offense over to Dorsey, who continued to impress the team with his command in the huddle and on the playing field. Dorsey did not get into any game action as a rookie, but he will start the season as the backup to Rattay. There are many in the organization who believe Dorsey, not Rattay, is the long-term answer at the most important position on the field.

INJURY REPORT: QB Tim Rattay is taking part in limited practices, less than 12 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn adductor tendon in his left upper groin. Rattay's involvement in full-team scrimmages is on a day-to-day basis. ... DL Brandon Whiting, acquired from Philadelphia in the Terrell Owens trade, sustained a minor setback last week in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery. Whiting began training camp on the PUP list. He has until Sept. 1 to pass a physical to remain with the 49ers or they will send him back to Philadelphia for a third-round pick in the 2005 NFL draft. When asked if he expects to send Whiting back to the Eagles, coach Dennis Erickson said, "That is not my expectation. Not at all."

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