Niners hit the field for first time in ’09

The 49ers hit the practice field Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for their first “voluntary” minicamp.

In case you don’t know what voluntary means in the NFL: It means if you don’t volunteer to show up for practices, then you also won’t mind volunteering to take a spot in the unemployment line.


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Theoretically, this is when the quarterback competition pitting Alex Smith vs. Shaun Hill is set to resume. I word in that way because the competition should have started last season. Hill took a pretty decisive lead, and now the onus is on Smith to prove that he would do a better job in 2009 than what Hill did in 2008.


A lot of eyes will be on the quarterbacks, of course. But there will also be a lot of pressure on Jimmy Raye to have a successful season as offensive coordinator.


I wrote an article entitled, “Raye brings wealth of experience to 49ers,” for The Press Democrat. Did you know that Raye played quarterback in a game referred to as college football’s “Game of the Century”?


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The 49ers and representatives for free-agent offensive tackle Marvel Smith are expected to talk today. There is no word on how the 49ers evaluated Smith’s physical condition after he visited on Wednesday. Smith has missed 15 games the past two seasons with a lower-back problem.


Smith was the only free-agent visitor to 49erland this week. Meanwhile, tight end Billy Bajema visited the Rams and cornerback Donald Strickland visited the Titans.


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Let me know what interests you most about these two days of practices at the 49ers’ practice facility. I’ll be out there to watch what’s going on.


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