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49ers first day of OTAs: Not practicing huddles and going to the playoffs

Yesterday, the 49ers conducted their first day of OTAs for the 2010 offseason. These kind of sessions generally occur later in the offseason, but who are we to complain about a little practice time, right? There's a lot of tidbits that came out of yesterday's practice and we'll have plenty of coverage over the course of today and this week.

This is a particularly interesting two days of practice because of the context of it all. First off, we have the fact that Mike Singletary is not attending, and instead has his coordinators running things. The common refrain seems to be that this is primarily an opportunity for offensive line coach Mike Solari to get his hands dirty with his offensive line.

Speaking of the offensive line, David Baas is in camp, even though he has not yet signed his tender offer. Baas has quickly recognized that he is very likely in for a battle when training camp roles around. Chester Pitts apparently sounds like he wants to be a 49er, and the 49ers could potentially eye a guy like Mike Iupati in the draft. Maybe neither player is added (or maybe Iupati is swapped to right tackle), but it shows the team is serious about getting improvement in their guard play. While I know Baas gets a lot of crap here, I am somewhat pleased that he doesn't have his head stuck in the sand, thinking he's the man at the position no matter what.

Join me after the jump for a little discussion on the 49ers offense...always a fun time.

The joke running rampant across the Internet yesterday was the idea that the 49ers did not have to practice lining up in the offensive huddle. The point being that the team is looking at a second straight season with the same offensive system, for the first time since early in what is now last decade! One of the primary arguments from the Alex Smith camp is that Smith has never had the opportunity to work in the same offensive system for consecutive seasons since college. The fairly drastic year-to-year change in systems (Just moving to Mike Martz is insane enough) means that not only is he learning new systems, but his head (and that of the rest of the offense) is filled with the jargon and plays of the previous offensive coordinators.

What is also fairly important about this season, as both Matts were quick to point out, is that Alex Smith is no longer dealing with shoulder rehab. Combine the rehab with new offenses, and we had plenty of excuses for Alex Smith's somewhat stunted development. Now, it's safe to say the excuses are off the table. He's healthy, he's got the same system in place, and he's got a whole stable of intriguing weapons with which to work, with more potentially on the way at the end of April.

So given that, is it really that simple? Obviously we'll be discussing Alex Smith and the development of the 49ers until doomsday. However, is this really all it takes for Alex Smith to actually take that next step? Or is it safer to say that it simply means there are no more excuses and this is basically his last chance to show his stuff with the 49ers? I'd lean towards the latter, but I do think Smith is currently in the best position to succeed that he's been in since he was first drafted by the 49ers, even with the signing of David Carr.

Of course, all of this is a way to segue into the question of whether the team is officially ready to take control of the NFC West? I know some folks are confident, but at this point it's simply way too soon to tell whether this team is ready to take the next step. They're certainly saying all the right things, which is nice. However, we really won't know until the preseason at the very earliest.

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