49ers Share Thoughts on 2016 'Hard Knocks'

The Niners open up the 2016 regular season against the stars of a recent reality TV show.

The Los Angeles Rams, this year's chosen team for HBO's "Hard Knocks," were documented in five episodes of the NFL Films-produced show.

Some on the Niners watched the show to pick up added information on their Week 1 opponent. Others didn't view it all.

"I don't watch it at all," Niners wideout Torrey Smith said on Wednesday. "My biggest fear is getting cut on 'Hard Knocks.'

"It's pretty cool from what I hear, but I want no part in that show."

Then there's the opinion of defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil. The former New York Jets secondary coach was part of the program in 2010.

"I watched it when we were on it," the coordinator said with a grin. "I did not watch 'Hard Knocks' this past year just because I know that the head coach usually has final editing rights and you really don't get a lot of football stuff out of it."

O'Neil said some of San Francisco's coaching staff and defensive players had watched this year's season, but it wasn't a big talking point in this week's preparations.

After polling the locker room on Wednesday, two members of the team were up to speed on what transpired in training camp for the NFC West foe.

Michael Wilhoite and Tony Jerod-Eddie.

The veteran defenders binge-watched four episodes of the show on Tuesday night.

Why?

"We open up with them, so you try to gain any kind of advantage that you can," Jerod-Eddie said. "I've obviously been looking at tape for a few weeks now, but any extra anything that I can get to get an edge, that's why I watch it."

The veteran defensive lineman was intrigued by how Rams did spontaneous activities on their off days. Jerod-Eddie also looks forward to seeing aspects of training camp that players don't get to experience when it's a coaches-only scenario.

"I like to look at it from a different perspective," Jerod-Eddie began. "I like to look at those personnel meetings with the coaches to see what goes on. It's a different view of our job."

Wilhoite, on the other hand, identified most with the stories of unheralded players trying to make the 53-man roster. After all, the inside linebacker went undrafted in 2011 and played for the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL before he eventually found a spot in the NFL with San Francisco.

"I think it's just a good show to watch," Wilhoite said. "The whole reality of it, the feelings, the emotions, I think it's good for the fans to see what we go through, the ups and downs of the daily grind of camp."

Wilhoite didn't learn a ton of nuanced information from watching "Hard Knocks." He did, however, appreciate seeing how a familiar team experienced training camp.

"They're not telling you their schemes," Wilhoite said. "They're basically following certain guys and their journey through camp, whether it be a rookie, a veteran or a certain star player. It's cool to watch it and see how those guys work. It's cool to see they're going through the same things we are."

When Rams assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Rob Boras was shown coaching his players to aggressively finish running plays in bounds and not go out of bounds, Jerod-Eddie said it matched his scouting report on Los Angeles' offensive philosophy.

"I didn't have to see that on the show to know it," Jerod-Eddie said. "This will be my fifth year, fourth year playing, and we've seen those guys twice a year. We played against Todd Gurley last year, and he is who he is. And Bennie Cunningham, he's a very good back. I've always thought highly of those guys – so it's nothing new to prepare for them."

And of course, five-hours of personalized film adds for more colorful dialogue on gameday.

"We'll be able to call them by name," Wilhoite said.

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