Here, there and everywhere at 49ers training camp

The starting quarterback position is not Alex Smith's to lose, coach Mike Nolan said Wednesday, but it sure is beginning to look that way at 49ers training camp. Here's a closer look at what's going on here, there and everywhere after the Niners worked briskly through another session of two-a-day practices.

--- Five days of camp down. Five days of rookie Smith running with the first-team offense. Nolan says not to get used to it yet, but it's starting to look very much like the rotation won't change before the first stage of camp ends with Saturday's big two-hour scrimmage.

--- Trade talk: With Smith progressing nicely, there are whispers that Tim Rattay could be on the trading block again when NFL teams begin finalizing their rosters and looking for veteran help around the start of September. If Rattay is dangled for the right price, that probably would leave the 49ers looking to bring in an older, established veteran quarterback as insurance behind Smith and Ken Dorsey.

--- Regarding that possibility, Nolan said, "If I had the opportunity and it was the right guy, I would certainly investigate it, but right now, I've looked at that hard from four months ago until now and nobody really gets me excited, especially getting to know the guys we have. If I didn't like the guys we have, I would be searching harder, but I like the guys we have and nobody on the outside gets me excited, so I am not trying to get them in here. I am kind of where I'd like to be."

--- But those sentiments could change in the next four weeks.

--- Kevan Barlow finally is getting some training camp momentum going after a slow start.

--- You can say the same for Ahmed Plummer, who's looking like a starting cornerback again.

--- Not many pass rushers are going to get around Jonas Jennings on the left edge this season, which will be a pleasant change for the Niners and their quarterbacks.

--- Jennings missed Wednesday's afternoon session to have a Magnetic Resonance Imaging exam on a finger he injured Tuesday, and somehow practice just wasn't the same.

--- It's notable that – with rookie Adam Snyder currently running as the starting right guard – rookie Patrick Estes took Jennings' place at left tackle with the first-team offense. Estes, a tight end in college, has played the position all of, well, about two months.

--- It's going to take Estes some time to play offensive tackle, but it looks as though he has the mobility and footwork to succeed. At 6-foot-7, he also has the height. He'll need more than 280 pounds on that frame, though.

--- The 49ers' first-unit offensive line could be much better than it was last year, but the backup depth could be as bad as it was last year.

--- Young Scott Peters, who ended last season on the 53-man roster but never played a snap in 2004, is showing a few signs that he might be able to help that depth at guard.

--- For that matter, keep an eye on Thomas Herrion, who ended his rookie season last year on the practice squad. He's a load, and he seems able to hold his own at the point of attack.

--- David Baas and Jeremy Newberry stood together watching the afternoon session in shorts and jerseys. You can picture those two clearing out a lot of space – and solving a lot of San Francisco's problems – standing together in the interior trenches this year. But that's a hopeful look at what could be, but probably won't be.

--- We'll begin to find out if it could or won't in about two weeks, when Newberry returns to practice after the preseason opener against the Raiders to see how his right knee responds to the daily grind.

--- If it can't – and it didn't this spring – Newberry will miss the season and have microfracture surgery to correct the problem sometime after the real games begin.

--- The Niners would rather have Baas in there, but the right side of Kwame Harris and Adam Snyder is starting to develop a rapport.

--- Harris continues to look determined – and able – to finally reach his potential this year.

--- Every practice, it seems, Frank Gore puts the severe injuries of college days farther and farther behind him.

--- Tight end. Fullback. H-back. Steve Bush can shake free into open space and catch the ball from either position.

--- Where, exactly, does Terry Jackson fit into this team this year? Someplace, to be sure.

--- Anthony Adams and Isaac Sopoaga, lining up side by side. That package would give the 49ers plenty of beef on the left side of their defensive line.

--- Another day, another chance to see Bryant Young tossing aside offensive linemen or charging around them like they weren't there.

--- Tony Brown is looking better every day and seems to be earning himself a role in the defensive line rotation.

--- But that will be tough if the Niners keep only five of six defensive linemen, which they might.

--- Second-year receiver Rashaun Woods missed practice for the third consecutive day with a groin problem. No, he's not on marked time with this team. Yet.

--- Arnaz Battle is the big, physical, athletic presence the 49ers need at flanker, but the question is if he has the speed and technique to get himself open on a consistent basis.

--- Brandon Moore and Saleem Rasheed, fighting the good fight for playing time at the team's deepest and most talented position.

--- Rasheed is flying around, and staying healthy, but you start to wonder if that will matter this time around.

--- Rookie Billy Bajema might already be the 49ers' best blocking tight end.

--- Safety Tony Parrish looks as happy as any defender in the new 3-4 system.

--- Is Brandon Lloyd beginning to develop some run-after-the-catch ability?

--- Cody Pickett: The forgotten man at quarterback.

--- The morning practice culminated with rookie Daven Holly intercepting a poorly-thrown Pickett pass to end a live, full-contract drive, a good example of why Pickett's not a factor in the quarterback competition.

--- After Holly's interception, the entire defensive squad joined him at midfield for a noisy, jubilant celebration to end the session on a lighter note.

--- The afternoon practice ended with Gore taking a snap from center and bolting through the middle of the defense and into the end zone. After a fleeting pause, all of Gore's offensive teammates rushed to join him for a noisy, jubilant celebration to end the session – and a busy day of camp.

--- After all, turnabout is fair play.


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