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Worth the Wait


For the entire offseason, the 49ers offensive personnel and coaching staff have put in hours upon hours of hard work to prepare for the 2009 season which begins this Friday night with the team's preseason home opener against the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park.

When Jimmy Raye was named offensive coordinator at the end of January, the 49ers had to learn their seventh different offensive scheme in the past seven seasons. Not the easiest task, but the players and staff were up to the challenge.

Throughout offseason minicamps and organized team activities, the entire organization has embraced Raye's system. And now with the first preseason game just days away, the chance to demonstrate their understanding of the offense is steadily approaching.

"We want to go out there and execute our plays," starting left tackle Joe Staley said after the first of two Wednesday training camp practices. "You want to be crisp. That's what we're hoping for. But, you want to be consistent and execute the plays that you've been running here in camp."

And while the 49ers are focused on executing the plays inside of Raye's playbook, naming a starter for Friday night is not a priority at the moment.

"No, we haven't," said Raye when asked if the coaching staff had picked Shaun Hill or Alex Smith as Friday's starter. "As we conclude today's work, because this is a normal training camp day for us, we'll start on Thursday thinking about getting ready for Friday and playing Denver."

Both quarterbacks say it's a non-issue.

"It doesn't matter to me," Hill said earlier in the week. "No matter what, I know what I have to do. I have to go out there and make the most out of the snaps that I get, move the team and score touchdowns."

Smith said he had no idea who would start or how long the starter would be in the game. Based on his previous preseason experiences, the starter's playing time varies in the first game.

"I have played a couple series and I have played a half in these first games," Smith said. "I have no idea."

While the quarterback's playing time has yet to be determined, it's almost a foregone conclusion that rookie running back Glen Coffee will get a chance to carry the load on Friday. Frank Gore will likely see a reduced role, so the coaches can evaluate all of the running backs.


"I want the ball," Coffee said. "I'm definitely looking forward to Friday. It's been a while since I've carried the ball. I'm excited about getting as many carries as they will give me, the more the better."

While speaking with the media, Raye was very complimentary of Coffee.

"I think he will get a fair amount of reps," Raye said. "I'd like to see Glen play. He had good OTA sessions. He's had a good training camp, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he does out there."

But Raye is also intrigued by the rest of the 49ers running backs.

"I'm interested in seeing Thomas Clayton and the young running back from Purdue, Kory Sheets. I would like to see them all, and hopefully the game will be as such that we can get a good look at all of them," Raye said.

In Raye's estimation the most important aspect of Friday's game is validating the work that was put in throughout the offseason by the players and coaching staff.

"I'm hoping to see that they gain some measure of success or have some success in executing what they've been doing in the training camp periods," Raye said. "And that way they can build on it and go forward and then they'll feel like their energy and the work that they put in will be justified."

PM Practice Particulars

Second-year tight end Joe Jon Finley made a nice touchdown catch during the 7-on-7 red zone period. Finley cut in front of rookie cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels to come up with Alex Smith's pass.

Later, the offense worked on two-minute situations. The best play of the period occurred when Vernon Davis made a leaping over-the-middle catch on a Smith pass that was slightly behind him.

Easily the best sight of practice was seeing defensive coordinator Greg Manusky receive a special 43rd birthday present from some of his defensive players. As soon as practice concluded, Manusky tried to run away from his players, but they were able to corral him and pour ice cold water from the Gatorade cooler on top of his head.

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