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49ers Training Camp Practice: What First Day Lineups Do & Don't Tell Us

The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their first practice of training camp with a bit of a patchwork first team offense and defense. The unique nature of the lockout-impacted training camp means teams are still signing free agents and fill out rosters. For the 49ers, there are approximately 76 players in camp right now that are eligible to practice. Alex Smith, Ray McDonald, David Akers, Tony Wragge and all of their unsigned veteran free agents are either on the sideline or sitting at home.

Given all this, the first unit included a lot of unknown quantities ranging from DE Will Tukuafu to S C.J. Spillman to RG Nick Howell. A variety of injuries and other predicaments have left a host of players out. After the jump we've got Matt Barrows approximation of the 49ers first team units Friday afternoon.

On the bottom right of the picture above there is a link that says "More Photos." If you click on that you can view a host of pictures from practice today. You can also head HERE to view the pictures.

In running through today's "starting lineups" I've posted likely week one starter in parenthesis. I realize Crabtree may or may not be 100% by then and Gore may very well still be holding out, but we'll just be positive in that regard.

QB: Colin Kaepernick (Alex Smith)
RB: Anthony Dixon (Frank Gore)
FB: Moran Norris
C: Adam Snyder (?)
LG: Mike Iupati
LT: Joe Staley
RG: Nick Howell (Chilo Rachal)
RT: Anthony Davis
TE: Vernon Davis
WR: Josh Morgan
WR: Ted Ginn (Michael Crabtree)

RDE: Justin Smith
NT: Ricky Jean Francois (Isaac Sopoaga)
LDE: Will Tukuafu (Ray McDonald)
ILB: Patrick Willis
ILB: NaVorro Bowman
OLB: Ahmad Brooks
OLB: Parys Haralson
S: Reggie Smith
S: CJ Spillman (?)
CB: Shawntae Spencer
CB: Tarell Brown (?)

The most interesting lineup decision had C.J. Spillman starting at safety with Reggie Smith. Most people probably expected to see Taylor Mays in the starting lineup so this will at least raise some eyebrows. It's one day of practice so it's meaning can't really be inferred at this point.

At the same time, this first day of practice does give us something to keep an eye on moving forward. Whether or not the 49ers re-sign Goldson, if Spillman remains ahead of Mays in coming practices, that will tell us something. So, we'll keep an eye out over the next few days and maybe CJ Spillman will have found himself a more significant role. It sounds like the team wants to expand his role, so this is a big opportunity for him with Goldson out of action.

It's not surprising that Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson were starting at the OLB positions. Manny Lawson is a free agent and Aldon Smith is going to take some time to develop. Smith will get some playing time but it will be in a more situational pass rush role. I suppose he could surprise folks and earn a starting job, but I'm not holding my breath on that straight out of camp.

On the offensive side of the ball, Colin Kaepernick and Kendall Hunter are two guys to follow in terms of playing time splits. Kaepernick will take all the number one QB snaps at this point, which can only help in his development. It sounds like Jeremiah Masoli took the second team snaps and McLeod Bethel-Thompson was the third string QB. Kaepernick will get a whole lot of coaching on the practice field as it sounds like Harbaugh was very involved with the quarterbacks. While all the quarterbacks are there for the classroom work, Kaepernick, Masoli and MBT are the ones getting the field work, so we'll see how Kaepernick benefits.

As for Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon got first team snaps today. The absence of Gore means more work for both running backs so we'll see how much Hunter is able to impress the coaching staff early in camp.

Training Camp Practice Reports
Matt Barrows
Sam Lam
Matt Maiocco
Eric Branch
Dan Brown