Niners revamp offensive line

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Chase Beeler walked into the San Francisco 49ers' locker room for the first time and felt right at home. Everything from the motivational signs plastered along the walls to the coaching staff to the playbook was familiar.

Maybe only to the rookie.

After playing under coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Beeler is competing for a spot on a 49ers offensive line that has more holes than highlights at the moment. For everyone but Beeler, the O-line overhaul has been one of the biggest changes this year.

"Frankly, it feels just like we're back at Stanford," he said.

For good reason, too.

Harbaugh has created an environment similar to his days just up the road with the Cardinal. He speaks the same lingo, uses the same acronyms and even redecorated the facility with his mantra.

There's a list of things players should take care of — "Yourself, family and team" — and a banner that hangs leading out to the practice field that reads: "You Are Getting Better Or Getting Worse. You Never Stay The Same." There's also the definition of "relentless" across the weight room wall.

"I don't think it's Merriam-Webster's definition," Beeler said, chuckling.

Call it Harbaugh Speak.

All of it is a new language players are trying to grasp with little time to do so. The preseason opener is Aug. 12 at New Orleans, and there might not be a bigger learning curve than the offensive line.

San Francisco already has parted ways with two of last season's starters, guard David Baas and center Eric Heitmann, and are relying on improvement from within after doing little in free agency. Baas signed with the New York Giants and the 49ers released Heitmann.

The key returning members are left tackle and leader Joe Staley and two 2010 first-round draft picks, right tackle Anthony Davis and left guard Mike Iupati. Both started every game as rookies.

Adam Snyder is the front-runner to move from guard to center. Beeler could also play center or switch to guard, and the team will likely sign at least one offensive lineman who could start.

"I've got high hopes," Harbaugh said. "Good expectations, again, that we can keep improving with an offensive line that there's been some shake-up, especially with a new system. It's so important that those guys play well together. I think they got the right makeup to do that."

The challenge of learning the new terminology has been difficult enough with the NFL lockout washing away minicamps and organized team activities. Now quarterback Alex Smith and other free agents can't practice until the new league year begins Thursday — at the latest — under the new labor agreement.


Peyton Manning has a new long-term deal in time to report to training camp.

He still hasn't been cleared to practice.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said he was "thrilled" to sign the only four-time MVP in league history to a deal that will likely keep him in Indianapolis for the rest of his career. It's a five-year contract for $90 million with $69 million of that paid in the first three years.

The deal comes nearly five months after the team used the exclusive franchise tag to prevent Manning from negotiating with any other teams. Had Manning signed the one-year offer, he would have made $23.1 million this season.

By getting the long-term deal done, Manning's salary cap number will be reduced this season to $16 million, Irsay wrote, allowing the team to sign more of its own free agents. The Colts have already re-signed two key veterans — safety Melvin Bullitt and kicker Adam Vinatieri — this week. They also lost linebacker Clint Session to Jacksonville in free agency.


In an effort to improve his stamina, Baltimore Ravens All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata lost 20 pounds during the offseason.

Over the next few weeks, Ngata hopes to enhance his bank account by dropping his franchise tag and signing a long-term contract.

Ngata says he doesn't mind being Baltimore's franchise player, but wants more money over a longer period of time. He says "that's what I am really trying to shoot for."

The 27-year-old Ngata had 65 tackles last year and ranked second on the team with a career-high 51/2; sacks.

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