Top 5 49er storylines

This is Grant Cohn, but some people call me Iggy. You can call me whatever you’d like. I’m your new 49ers blogger. I’ll be reporting and tweeting every day from training camp in Santa Clara as soon as it opens, whenever that may be.

Until then, I’ll join Bob Padecky and Phil Barber in providing you with some blogging snack food to whet your appetite for the upcoming NFL season.

And away we go!

Let’s start by asking the relevant questions: What are the top five storylines for training camp?

Here’s my list first. Please post your own in the comment section.

5. Can Frank Gore still bring it? He broke his hip last November against Arizona and missed the rest of the season. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, says the hip is 100 percent healthy. Is it? Has Gore lost a step? If he has, the 49ers are toast.

4. Can rookie pass rusher Aldon Smith get to the quarterback? New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio wants to pressure the quarterback. Trent Baalke drafted Aldon Smith to do just that, dreaming one day Smith will become the 49ers’ next Charles Haley. But is he really better right now than Manny Lawson, the outside linebacker he’s replacing? Remember, Smith played defensive end last year at the University of Missouri, and the Niners are asking him to be an outside linebacker. Can he make the transition?

3. Can Michael Crabtree become a part of the team? We know he likes to work out on his own. Can he find it in himself to attend team practices this August? Will he actually play in the preseason games? It’s time for Crabtree to show he’s a No.1 wide receiver and a grownup. If he isn’t, the 49ers need to replace him.

2. Can Alex Smith beat out rookie Colin Kaepernick for the starting quarterback job? Smith has never won a quarterback competition in his professional career – he lost out to Shaun Hill in 2009 and J.T. O’Sullivan in 2008. Will Alex Smith actually win for once this August? Will he look better than mediocre in the process?

1. Can the new 49er coaches coach? There’s already been a coronation for the triumvirate – Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman, and Vic Fangio. But all three coached in college last year, and while Vic Fangio has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL, Roman has never been an NFL offensive coordinator, and this is Harbaugh’s first NFL head-coaching job. As we know, the transition from college to pro is enormous. How good will Harbaugh and Roman be? How do they conduct their practices? Who calls the plays in games? In what ways are they better than the Singletary bunch?

Bonus Question: How does Jim Harbaugh deal with the media? He’s never had to face the amount of scrutiny he will face every day this year, so how will he handle it? We know he has a mercurial personality. Will he deal with a loss better than the head coach he replaced? Can he keep his pants on?

Those are the questions pre-training camp. Let’s talk after training camp to see if the questions have changed.

Follow me on twitter @grantcohn. I’ll be tweeting like a magpie once training camp opens.

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