The 49ers' practice Thursday is scheduled for 2:30 to 5:10 p.m. With a little time to kill, let's dig into the 49ers Mailbag . . .
Q: What's Kaepernick's status. Is he still seen as the heir apparent? (Tim Gould)Colin Kaepernick is signed for three more seasons. Of course, Alex Smith signed a three-year contract to return to the 49ers in the off-season.Things can change quickly. After all, Smith's deal is really structured in a way that makes it a series of one-year contracts. But Kaepernick will never get a chance to play for the 49ers if Smith plays well and remains healthy.Through the first five practices of training camp, Smith has shown to be clearly better than the other three quarterbacks who are scrambling for their roles this season.
So is Kaepernick seen as the heir apparent? No, he's seen as the 49ers' backup quarterback and insurance policy for the next three seasons.And he'll even have to earn the right to hold onto that spot over Josh Johnson, the former Tampa Bay No. 2 who will get a chance to unseat Kaepernick during camp this summer.Q: With Tony Jerod-Eddie looking good and almost a PS squad lock and with Demarcus Dobbs looking good as a D-Lineman and showing versatility as a tight end, is Ian Williams a guy who will have a tough time making the team? (Patrick Jira)Whoa, there. While I appreciate your enthusiasm as it pertains to Tony Jerod-Eddie, the undrafted defensive tackle from Texas A&M is certainly not a "lock" for the practice squad. He certainly has a good opportunity to stick around this season, but he also has lot of work to do to get to that point.Demarcus Dobbs is looking good at tight end, so there is a legitimate chance that the 49ers keep two true tight ends on the roster (Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker) in addition to Dobbs. Then, the team would also keep a tight end for the practice squad.The 49ers kept seven defensive linemen on their 53-man roster at the start of last season because they thought they had some talent and did not want to give up on Will Tukuafu, Dobbs or Williams.I expect the 49ers to keep six defensive linemen this season. They can only have one true nose tackle on the roster. That's Isaac Sopoaga. All the backups must be able to play every spot.Williams has practice-squad eligibility because he suited up for only one regular-season game last year. As everything stands right now, I anticipate they'll try to bring him back to the practice squad.Q: Who do you predict being the RG starter come week 1? (Danny Esparza)Alex Boone.Leonard Davis would have to be clearly better than Boone to win this job. After all, Boone is 25 years old, he's on the up-swing, and he is signed through the 2015 season. Boone has gotten off to a good start, and he is definitely fired up to get this opportunity to be a starter for the first time in his career.Q: Why is Mario Manningham being so overlooked this off-season? Wasn't he a sneaky good pick up? (Alex Sawyer)Whenever I write or talk about the 49ers' receivers, I mention Mario Manningham, along with Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss, as the team's top three receivers.Yes, Manningham was a very good pickup for the investment. He signed a two-year contract, and he is a starter-quality receiver. I'd expect Manningham to hold down the job as the No. 3 wideout, while also rotating into games as one of the top two guys on occasion.It's because of Manningham that I don't see how rookie A.J. Jenkins can make much of an impact as a rookie. Jenkins has neither been outstanding or bad. And, as expected, he does not appear ready to challenge Manningham, Crabtree or Moss for a spot within the team's top three.