The San Francisco 49ers will start Craig Dahl and Demarcus Dobbs at free safety and right defensive end, respectively, for the preseason opener against the Denver Broncos on Thursday.
Dahl will get the first shot at taking over at free safety where Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson departed after signing a lucrative free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dahl has been in competition with first-round pick Eric Reid, Trenton Robinson and C.J. Spillman for the starting spot. Reid has had a couple strong days and the better and better he looks the faster he’ll move up the depth chart in the upcoming preseason games as the Niners get ready to take on the air attacking Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers.
Dobbs, who had a season-ending injury last year after a promising start, will start at right defensive end with Justin Smith (broken finger) sitting out the game. Presumed backup and second-round pick Tank Carradine is still not practicing after recovering from a torn ACL last season with Florida State. Also a backup tight end, Dobbs will look to make an impression with the 49ers coaches as he tries to be a part of a rotational defensive line that the Niners will assuredly look to use after Smith and Ray McDonald slowed down at the end of last year.
In other Training Camp battles A.J. Jenkins has had back-to-back solid days and seems to be leading for the starting receiver spot opposite of Anquan Boldin. Lavelle Hawkins and Austin Collie are being eased into practices and will start ramping up their reps in the next coming weeks.
Ian Williams has also taken a lead in the fight for starting nose tackle in the Niners base 3-4 defense. After signing a contract that guaranteed him $1 million, the Niners also added free agent Glenn Dorsey from the Kansas City Chiefs, but Williams has been impressive in the first 10 days of practice.