SANTA CLARA ? It has been awhile since offensive tackle Marvel Smith was in a situation such as this.
?I started my second preseason game as a rookie, and I?ve been a starter my whole career,? said Smith, who spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before signing with the 49ers this offseason as a free agent.
Smith, who turns 31 on Thursday, finds himself in competition with Adam Snyder for the starting job at right tackle. Smith has one Pro Bowl appearance to his credit, but he is not offended that he must prove himself in training camp.
After all, Smith must show that he is durable enough to win the job after missing 15 games with back injuries that landed him on injured reserve the past two seasons.
?It would be different if I were still in Pittsburgh competing for a job,? he said. ?But I knew that I would have to come in here and prove myself?
Although Snyder is lining up with the first team, Smith said he is confident in his ability to regain his form and win the starting job.
?I wouldn?t continue to play if I didn?t feel I could play at the level I did before,? he said.
The 49ers are being cautious with Smith. He did not work with the team during 11-on-11 work in the offseason program. He has also not taken part in coach Mike Singletary?s ?nutcracker? drills during training camp. Smith was held out of Monday afternoon?s practice.
But offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said he likes what he sees thus far.
?What I?ve seen of him in the pads, in the practices that he?s been in, he seems fine,? Raye said. ?Until such time as somebody medically says something about him, I?m going to assume he?s going to be a competitive player for the position at right tackle.?