The draft is over, and the UDFAs are in camp, and soon the competition begins. The brain trust of Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have done some fairly unconventional things these last few weeks. Topping the list is the ‘rewarding’ of Alex Smith, coming off his best year by far as a pro, with a make-good deal, and the interetsing move of bringing in Harbaugh’s old protege Josh Johnson. He of the USD Torereros in that fierce Pioneer League (1-AA), and more recently the TB Bucs.
One thing Harbaugh has stressed in his short time as the Niners coach is competition. He said every spot is up for grabs. However true this may be, one thing is sure. The defense is pretty well set for the foreseeable future. There won’t be too much competition there. Perrish Cox and Chrsi Culliver may be fighting for a CB spot, but not much more than that. This of course is predicated on Dashon Goldson signing his franshise tender some time soon. If he doesn’t, then there will be a little shuffling. Culliver played a lot of safety in college, so I don’t see much of a problem if Hawk pouts his way off the team.
Offense is a much different story. At QB you have the four-headed group of Alex, Cappy, Tolzie, and now JJ. As secure as Alex feels going in to camp, it has to be juuust a little unsettling that Harbaugh brought his young mentee into camp. That being said, I don’t really think that this move was directed at Alex. It was more a fire lit under Cappy’s ass. Granted, Cappy hasn’t gotten much chance to show what he’s got, but it makes the battle for the backup job all the more interesting. Shades of Nate Davis coming into camp and basking in the fun of being on an NFL roster. Cappy had his year of incognito-ness. Now he needs to bring it. Tolzein looks to be the odd man out, and he’ll likely get tossed on to the taxi squad.
RB is interesting as well with the addition of Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James. These 2 additions cut in to the shelf life of at the least Anthony Dixon, and possibly Bruce Miller. If they keep the usual 5 backs, you have Gore, Hunter, Jacobs, James, and STer Rockfish. That leaves Dixon and Miller out in the cold. Harbaugh has said he may keep 6 backs, so that would likely be rookie surprise Miller.
WR is also a bunch of fun. Lone holdover Michael Crabtree all of a sudden isn’t the nominal #1 coming into camp. A camp that I think he actually attends. Crabs was obviously hedging his bet last year by not participating in the mini-Alex-happy-camps and calling it a foot injury due to his new shoes. It conveniently lasted all through the pre-empted preseason and camp. Shoe-gate was a joke, as was his bullshit treatment of Alex Smith before those camps started. With the addition of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and the speedster AJ Jenkins, Crabs had better find some dedication to his craft, or get left behind in the dust. If he somehow pulls up lame for training camp, look for him to be traded halfway through the preseason games. Swett Brain and the soon-to-be-departed Kyle Williams don’t appear to be even a blip on the radar at this point, though Swain might stick around for ST duties.
The O line looks to have some changes happening to it. Chilly Chilo is out in the cold. The replacement there will be an ongoing fight amongst the undersized guys we have and a couple newcomers in the draft. The rest of the positions are fairly set and the competition there is the shuffling for backup spots.
Looks to be a very fun training camp this year.