SANTA CLARA, Calif. " It has been quite an adjustment for Barry Sims since he moved across San Francisco Bay to join the 49ers.
"I'm getting used to wearing red," said Sims, who spent the first nine seasons of his NFL career in Oakland Raiders' silver and black.
Now Sims is playing for his former neighborhood rival, and the change is more than just the uniform on his back.
After starting 119 games for the Raiders, most at offensive left tackle, the 49ers brought in the veteran last month to challenge Jonas Jennings for the starting tackle position on the right side.
It's a good opportunity for Sims, who was released by Oakland on Feb. 26, and a much-needed addition for the 49ers. San Francisco was desperate for veteran help at tackle after former starter Kwame Harris signed with the Raiders earlier this year and Adam Snyder was moved to guard to replace Larry Allen.
Since signing a $36 million deal with the 49ers in 2005, Jennings has missed all or part of 32 games due to injury. Jennings was moved to right tackle this season, flipping sides with second-year player Joe Staley, who established himself as San Francisco's top tackle last year.
Sims is one of several new faces competing for jobs along San Francisco's reconfigured offensive line after the 49ers lost Harris, Allen and starting guard Justin Smiley in the offseason.
The 49ers also have seen change at the top in their line structure, where Chris Foerster has joined the team as co-offensive line coach with incumbent George Warhop.
It's a unique situation that seems to be working well so far. Foerster, a former assistant head coach and line coach with the Baltimore Ravens, is known for his pass-blocking instruction and should help in that area. The 49ers allowed a franchise-record 55 sacks last season.
"There's a very good complement between the two, which starts with personality," coach Mike Nolan said. "We've got an awful lot of knowledge now (coaching) the offensive line."
DILFER PREDICTS SUCCESS
Trent Dilfer, who started six games at quarterback for the 49ers last season, was back sitting in front of his old locker Saturday morning, chatting with Bryant Young, another former 49er who retired during the offseason.
Dilfer was released by San Francisco in March and officially announced his retirement earlier this month after 14 NFL seasons.
Dilfer already has embarked on a new football-related career. Hell be an NFL analyst for ESPN this season.
Dilfer, the analyst, thinks the 49ers could be considerably improved this season.
"They're going to be a really good defensive football team and they can grow into a great defensive football team," Dilfer said.
"I think they've identified philosophically what they want to be defensively and they have depth. Offensively, I think (Mike) Martz's record proves he can turn around an offense quickly. But it's going to take some time. There's continuity issues as much as anything."
EXTRA POINTS: The 49ers canceled their afternoon practice and spent the afternoon signing autographs for fans who had come to the team facility expecting to watch practice. The team will practice in full pads for the first time Monday morning after three days of non-padded sessions.
Tight end Vernon Davis and defensive lineman Justin Smith had to be separated during practice after Davis took exception to Smith knocking tight end Delanie Walker to the ground on a passing play.
RB Michael Robinson sprained his knee late in the morning session and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam. NT Aubrayo Franklin (leg) and OT Joe Staley (foot) remained sidelined with minor injuries but should return to practice next week.