After 16 days of practices at team headquarters in Santa Clara, the San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their 2012 training camp on Thursday. Niner fans have mostly heard good things coming out of training camp with few negatives as the team heads into their second exhibition game Saturday. Here are some things we learned from training camp:
Alex Smith Continues Development
Last season Alex Smith started every game for the first time since 2006 and for the second time in his career. He only threw 5 five interceptions in 445 pass attempts and had 17 touchdowns. The offense was ranked 11th in the NFL in scoring last season and a lot had to do with Smith making good decisions and not turning over the football. All of this happened with the 49ers having no offseason workouts and a shorter training camp. With a full offseason and training camp, we can expect Smith to excel even more than last season.
The offense will be more than one-dimensional this season and Smith has a great chance to finally shed the game manager label from last season. The reason Smith will be able to do this is with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to throw to. Smith has connected with the new receivers which will make him more confident and accurate as he has been given a huge upgrade at the position compared to last season.
Colin Kaepernick Will Be the Backup QB
Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback of the future, but for now he will hold down the No. 2 spot behind Smith. It was a surprise there was even a training camp battle for backup QB as Kaepernick was the No. 2 last season. Kaepernick still has issues passing while in the pocket, but he has shown great accuracy in the shotgun formation and rolling out to pass. Fear not, should Kaepernick have to start this season Jim Habaugh and Greg Roman will tailor the game plan to suit his skill set.
Alex Boone at Right Guard
The 49ers biggest free agent lost this offseason was right guard Adam Snyder, who signed with the Cardinals. The 49ers did not sign a replacement and instead decided to move Alex Boone from tackle to guard. Even though he has never played the position he looked great at training camp and in the first preseason game, showing athleticism at the position. Standing in at 6-8, Boone has long arms that make him a worthy pass protector for Alex Smith. His one weakness is staying low while pass protecting, which can be an advantage for shorter defensive lineman
WR Depth Chart Still Unclear
Last season the passing game was mainly Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. This season the 49ers have a lot of new additions, but the depth chart is still unclear. We do know Crabtree is for sure No. 1 on the depth chart. Randy Moss, Mario Manningham or Ted Ginn Jr. will be the No. 2 receiver. All of this will be worked out over the final three preseason games, but I would be surprised if it’s not Moss. He has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove he is not done at the age of 35. Moss should start the season as the No. 2 with Manningham as the slot receiver.
No Big Injuries
At training camp the 49ers suffered no big injuries to starters that will make them miss the start of the regular season. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith did suffer a bruised right hip and may not play the rest of the preseason, however, he is expected to be 100% by the regular season opener. Tight end Delanie Walker did injure his knee but he is not expected to be out every long. Not suffering any injuries to starters, especially on offense is a good omen for the 49ers.