It’s been several months since the 49ers strapped on pads and enjoyed the physical aspects of their sport.
On Monday, the players shook the rust from the shoulder pads and put them to use on the first double-day of training camp.
The early morning session opened up with the re-introduction of Mike Singletary’s “Nutcracker” drill, only this time, the movements and matchups were different than a year ago.
Although the drill was slightly altered, the intent remained the same.
“We have to continue to work on our fundamentals,” Singletary said. “What we’re trying to do is be a fundamentally sound, technically sound team, because that team is the team that’s going to win those tight games, those close games.”
Singletary said the changes to the drill in 2010 (addition of player-specific movements and new position matchups) were installed based on conversations he had with his coaching staff over the offseason.
“I wanted our guys to have a drill where they practiced being physical,” Singletary noted. “We just looked at different things that our guys could do, more defensive, DB, and receiver friendly – things that they would do normally, in a game.”
Many of the players said they appreciated the changes to the drill and understood that it sets the tone for what their head coach wants to accomplish in the upcoming season.
“Nutcracker, nothing like that early in the morning to get the blood flowing,” linebacker
McKillop and his fellow inside linebackers matched up with larger opponents than a year before, facing off against guards instead of running backs.
“It was a harder challenge for us, but it will make us better,” the 6-foot-1, 244-pound linebacker said. “We’re in a situation where we need to work on leverage and using our hands to separate. It’s going to be difficult but it’s something that will make us a better player.”
The offensive linemen enjoyed the challenge too. Working on blocking linebackers in open space is an extremely difficult aspect of their position, so working on it camp figures to be a big plus.
“As guards, it’s realistic because we’re climbing to the second level. That’s a good look for us,” third-year guard
But no matter the size disparity, the desire to win is always at an all-time high.
“It’s always competitive,” Rachal added. “Every guy in here has that chip on their shoulder that they don’t want to lose.”
Newcomers to the drill, like rookie safety
“It’s physical and you can work your technique. It’s a drill that will show to be effective once you get the repetitions at it.”
With the USC product looking to play lower at the professional level, the Nutcracker drill gave Mays an opportunity to utilize the techniques he’s learned all offseason.
“Because I’m taller I have to be lower so it’s a real good drill for me because it’s technical,” said the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder said. “I have to be low. I have to play with great technique and play physical at the same time. I think it’s a drill that will help me a lot.”
Notes and Quotes
Thirteen years of professional football and
During 1-on-1 work, undrafted rookie wide receiver
The official “Welcome to training camp” moment took place when fullback Brit miller flattened an outside linebacker on a blitz pickup in the early stages of the nearly three-hour practice.
The best play of the day took place during the 7-on-7 period as Smith heaved a 35-yard touchdown to wide receiver
After practice said Smith’s comfort has grown tremendously this offseason. “I think our expectation levels, especially in the perimeter group, have changed so much. You can definitely feel going through today like we did, not that it was a terrible day, but just the guys outside, no one’s content with what we’re doing. The expectations have definitely risen and I think we all expect so much more and I expect more success and we have to continue to demand that out of ourselves.”
The 49ers second practice of the day will be open to the fans, who signed up for tickets weeks back on 49ers.com. We'll have more updates in our Goal Posts Blog from the afternoon session.
Guard Davis Baas suffered a mild concussion and will be evaluated by team doctors. There is no timetable for his return.