SANTA CLARA — Friday marked the first day of 49ers minicamp, which of course meant the first day coach Mike Singletary could play down the status of the quarterback competition.
Alex Smith trotted out with the first team at the beginning of 11-on-11 drills. This was a minor wrinkle. During recent practices, Shaun Hill had first crack with the starting unit.
This was not a blockbuster development, Singletary stressed, noting that Hill and Smith split time with the first team during every practice. Rotating who goes first is just the 49ers' way of keeping things even.
That system will continue that way until one player emerges. During the afternoon practice, Hill opened with the first team.
"The coaches are going to try to make it as fair as possible, making sure Shaun and Alex get their reps with the first group," Singletary said. "Right now, it really doesn't mean anything. That guy has to step up at some point in time, and he will."
Singletary joked that he would play anywhere, even out in the street, but would prefer that voters endorse the 49ers' plans for a new stadium in Santa Clara. "The fans deserve it. The city deserves it. The players deserve it — well, we will deserve it," he said.
Echoing a statement from left tackle Joe Staley a day earlier, center
In recent seasons, there had been an emphasis on explosive movement. Heitmann thinks the change could pay off for an offense built around the power running game.
"I've always heard that mass moves mass," Heitmann said. "Hopefully we can keep things pushing in the right direction."
Singletary said he likes the addition of cornerback Dre Bly, who he said "adds a lot of swagger and experience." But he reiterated that there are no guarantees Bly will beat out Tarell Brown for the starting corner job opposite Nate Clements.
The price of success
A day after signing a six-year contract extension, Staley was the object of some good-natured ribbing. Heitmann said the linemen were trying to think of how they should profit, too, perhaps by having Staley pick up the dinner tab until 2017, the last year of his contract.
First-round pick Michael Crabtree continues to be sidelined as he recovers from foot surgery. The 49ers expect him to be ready for day one of training camp in late July. Until then, Singletary wants the rookie to shadow receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. "When Jerry Sullivan goes to sleep, I want him to tell Michael Crabtree to get out," Singletary said.
Clements is still suffering from what the 49ers are calling a mild case of pneumonia. Clements will be re-evaluated Monday. ... Other players held out practice were receiver Arnaz Battle (foot), receiver Jason Hill (hamstring), defensive lineman Ray McDonald (knee) and cornerback Shawntae Spencer (knee). Cornerback/safety Reggie Smith suffered a groin strain. He and Hill will be re-evaluated today. ... Singletary said of the practice that the "energy was great. Now, we just need to work on the details."
— Daniel Brown, MediaNews staff