At long last, it’s Week 1 of the NFL regular season. The 49ers are headed to Lambeau Field for their season opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, but first they have a week of practice at team headquarters in Santa Clara.
The 53-man roster is set and it features a pair of players who are expected to play offense, defense and special teams this season for San Francisco. Will Tukuafu and Demarcus Dobbs take pride in their do-it-all roles with the team and are also roommates on the road. Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com spoke to Dobbs about the new responsibilities he and Tukuafu have added to their plates this season.
“Tukuafu and Dobbs were both converted into two-way players in the offseason,” Maiocco writes. “Dobbs played both ways in all three exhibition games in which he appeared. Tukuafu did not see two-way action in training camp until after the first three weeks of camp. He concluded the exhibition season in impressive fashion.”
Today’s Morning Tailgate rounds up the best coverage from Labor Day Weekend and takes a look forward to the Week 1 matchup.
Sports Illustrated’s panel of football experts offered their predictions for the 2012 season. The 49ers appear to be heavy favorites to repeat as NFC West Champions while Jim Harbaugh, Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith also receive some individual recognition. Peter King singled out the 49ers as the most impressive team he saw during his training camp tour throughout the league.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle traces Alex Smith’s career and how he has evolved as a quarterback in recent years, while also giving readers his full Q&A with the 49ers signal-caller. Branch: “In the first five games of 2010, he threw nine interceptions in 190 attempts and compiled a 71.6 rating. In his final six games, a scattered stretch interrupted by a shoulder injury and two benchings, he threw one interception in 152 attempts and posted a 95.5 rating. Although few noticed, the transformation had begun. And then Smith joined forces with Harbaugh, a head coach who endorsed his approach.”
Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group discusses Colin Kaepernick’s importance to the 49ers as the team’s second-string quarterback. Inman: “Kaepernick’s eye-opening, read-option runs in the exhibition season should at least cause defenses to plan for the 49ers’ latest threat. Memo to the Green Bay Packers: You’ve been warned.”
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee talked to No. 3 quarterback Scott Tolzien about the behind-the-scenes work that goes along with his job. Barrows: “Tolzien leads the so-called ‘look’ team, which runs the opposition’s offense against the first-team defense in practice. This week, he’ll be Aaron Rodgers. The next, he’ll be Matthew Stafford, and so on.”
Maiocco also discussed the San Francisco signal-callers while looking at the QB situations around the NFL. Maiocco: “The 49ers gave it a long thought before deciding to part ways with veteran Josh Johnson while keeping Scott Tolzien as the No. 3 guy behind starter Alex Smith and backup Colin Kaepernick.”
Branch took a visit to LaMichael James’ hometown of Texarkana, Texas to see the environment that produced San Francisco’s second-round pick. Branch: “Raised by a team of doting and devoted women, his motivation to attend the University of Oregon, 2,200 miles away, wasn’t inspired by a desire to escape danger. Rather, it was a realization that he needed to flee the cocoon of safety provided by his forever-fretting support system.”
Branch spoke to undrafted rookie tight end Garrett Celek about making the 49ers roster after a strong showing the preseason finale. Branch: “On Thursday, however, Celek made an effortless 37-yard, over-the-shoulder catch, added a three-yard touchdown grab and finished with three receptions for 54 yards in the preseason finale against the Chargers. The performance likely earned him a roster spot.”
Daniel Brown of the Bay Area News Group takes a look ahead to the 2012 season. Brown: “Now, to avoid the pitfalls of increased expectations after a 13-3 finish, the 49ers are looking for words of wisdom beyond the coach’s pop. Players are quoting from Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, Vince Lombardi, Tupac Shakur and Greek statesmen as they prepare for a Super Bowl-or-bust season.”
Barrows also wrote about the loss of outside linebacker Parys Haralson and the addition of former Arizona Cardinal Clark Haggans. Barrows: “Even with the addition of the 35-year-old Haggans, who signed a one-year deal Monday, the 49ers enter the season with only three outside linebackers and may not be finished bulking up the position.”
TWEET ABOUT IT
Vernon Davis gives a shout out to the 49ers Faithful.
Tags: Alex Smith, Clark Haggans, Colin Kaepernick, Demarcus Dobbs, Garrett Celek, LaMichael James, Parys Haralson, Scott Tolzien, Will Tukuafu
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