All clubs are dealing with their share of challenges while navigating the foreignness of distant offseasons amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Whether it be new head coaches building a team from afar, rookies transitioning into the NFL, veteran players adapting to a new organization or players adjusting to the new norm of an offseason program, it's an unorthodox situation for everybody.
However, while many clubs are adjusting to getting players (and staff) up to speed with a remote approach, the 49ers are fortunate to host a vast majority of returning members of their NFC Championship season, limiting the burden of getting a number of newly acquired players acclimated to a new system.
San Francisco managed to retain 18 of their 22 starters from the 2019 season, in addition to almost all of their coaches and personnel. With a roster nearly kept intact, the 49ers are betting on continuity to give them a leg up amid a disrupted offseason.
''It's really important to have that continuity right now in these times because having everything the same for the veteran guys – the guys that have been part of the offense, defense, the special teams last year, all those installs are going to be the same or mostly the same,'' guard Laken Tomlinson said. ''Coaches can really focus on coaching the rookies coming in and making sure they're on the same page. The veterans can help with the learning process in that sense. Just having the majority of the team coming back, I think is going to be a winning edge for this team in this phase.''
The 49ers linebackers are a position group that is set to remain constant heading into 2020. The unit excelled in their first season together, managing little to no drop off in performance amid injuries. Fred Warner, a then second-year linebacker, was joined by Kwon Alexander and rookies Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair last season. With a year's worth of experience and a clean bill of health, San Francisco's linebackers believe stability in the locker room is an advantage for the 49ers in a season full of unknowns.
"I think we're just able to communicate a lot more effectively," Warner said. "Last year at this time, it was a completely new group. Kwon was coming in from the Bucs. Dre was a rookie. I think us having a year together is going to be huge for us. Everything is going to move along a lot smoother, being able to play a lot faster, and make more plays at the end of the day.
''The continuity obviously is for sure an advantage. There's a lot of turnover every year in the NFL because that's just the nature of the business. Us having a lot of the same people in the building this year will be good for us, having that chemistry and being familiar with one another."
Every team deals with their share of turnover to some degree. Of the four starters San Francisco parted ways with this offseason, they managed to shore up some of the team's pressing needs across draft weekend with the addition of five draft picks, 10 undrafted free agents and the acquisition of a veteran left tackle.
Outside of replicating offseason programs at various parts around the country, the 49ers are using the virtual approach as a bond-building opportunity. It's become the responsibility of each member of the team to aid in the transition of new players. Video conference calls have taken the place of in-person meetings. Makeshift gyms are replicating offseason training through virtual workouts. Despite not taking the field together just yet, the 49ers believe chemistry is just as vital to their success as stability.
''A lot of onus does come on us and the coaching staff and everybody else involved,'' Warner added. ''We need to make sure they're up to speed and have the right mindset heading into training camp when that time comes.''
Regardless of the transformations caused by the effects of the worldwide pandemic, San Francisco has stood on continuity being an asset in the team's success, especially if the 49ers hope to remain atop of the NFC amid an altered offseason for the foreseeable future.