LaBoy beginning to make an impact

The San Francisco 49ers have been bringing along newcomer Travis

LaBoy slowly this summer, but the sixth-year veteran is now

accelerating the process.

After missing more than two weeks of training camp with a

concussion earlier this month, LaBoy has returned to the field and

made his mark at outside linebacker during San Francisco’s past two

preseason games.

LaBoy recorded sacks in both games and leads the team in that

statistic entering Thursday’s exhibition finale against San Diego.

And recording sacks is pretty much the reason the 49ers signed

LaBoy to a one-year deal in April after he missed the entire 2009

season with a foot injury.

”As long as I get to the quarterback, I guess everybody’s

happy, right?” LaBoy said Monday as the 49ers returned to practice

after an off day Sunday.

LaBoy collected a sack and three hits on Minnesota quarterbacks

in his 49ers debut Aug. 22 during a 15-10 victory over the Vikings.

But his second-quarter sack that knocked Oakland quarterback Jason

Campbell out of the game during Saturday’s 28-24 victory over the

Raiders was his most impressive play yet in a San Francisco

uniform.

The 250-pound LaBoy used his power to engage and push back

Oakland left tackle Mario Henderson, then used his speed to beat

Henderson around the edge and blast Campbell from the blind side.

Campbell was down on the turf for more than five minutes with a

shoulder stinger before leaving the field on a cart.

The 49ers are looking for that kind of effort this year from the

edge rushers in their 3-4 system. With 23.5 career sacks, LaBoy is

showing the skills to fit nicely into that scheme as a situational

pass rusher.

”That’s what they expect from me,” LaBoy said. ”It’s still

baby steps for me at this point. I’m just trying to improve from

one day to the next and hopefully carry that over into the

season.”

LaBoy got a late start on his summer progress after suffering a

concussion just days into training camp. He didn’t return to full

practice until Aug. 19, but has made up for lost time since getting

back on the field.

LaBoy has an immediate opportunity for a prominent role in San

Francisco’s rotation on the edge because of an injury to Ahmad

Brooks, who sustained a lacerated kidney Aug. 6 and has not

practiced since. Brooks’ condition is still being evaluated and he

is unlikely to be ready for San Francisco’s regular-season opener

Sept. 12 at Seattle.

The 49ers were expecting Brooks to play a major role in their

pass rush this year as a complement to starting outside linebackers

Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson. Brooks had five sacks in San

Francisco’s final five games last year during a surge that saw the

49ers lead the NFL with 27 sacks over the final eight games of the

season.

With Brooks out and his return uncertain, LaBoy and youngster

Diyral Briggs are the top candidates for the role. Briggs, an

undrafted free agent who played in four games for the 49ers last

year as a rookie, had a sack against Minnesota and also has looked

good this summer.

But LaBoy has looked better. Despite his steady progress, the

49ers appear inclined to gradually work LaBoy into their

system.

”With Travis LaBoy, he’s a work in progress,” 49ers coach Mike

Singletary said. ”He was all banged up and beat up when he got

here, and we’re just trying to nurse him back and get him back to

having fun being on the field. As he gets back to being himself,

we’ll try to create some places for him to be a part. The value

that he does bring when he’s on the field makes a big

difference.”

NOTES: Singletary said his starting units are unlikely to play

more than one or two series Thursday against the Chargers. …

Singletary said rookie seventh-round draft pick Phillip Adams, who

returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown against Oakland, has

worked his way into the mix for the team’s vacant role at punt

returner. Rookie sixth-rounder Kyle Williams, the leading candidate

for the job, has a sprained toe and might not be ready for the

regular-season opener.