Every year during training camp, 49ers.com presents a veteran camp diary with a different tenured member of the team. This year, starting cornerback Shawntae Spencer assumes that role. The seven-year veteran checked in after a recent training camp practice to talk about his trip to South Africa, how camp is going, and something near and dear to his heart, his favorite places to eat on the road.**It's great to be back at camp and to be doing my blog again for all of you. It was nice to get back out there for the first week, get the pads back on and get things popping. There were some mental mistakes the first couple of days, but we're cleaning those up. It's just exciting to get back here and see all the guys.
I'm a veteran now. This is what, my seventh training camp? Man, I'm getting old. But once you get a few under your belt you know what necessities you have to bring with you. For me, two things I have to bring are Epsom salt and my own pillow. That's really about it besides clothes, toiletries and those types of necessities. You're never in your room anyways. You leave your room at about 6:30 a.m. and you don't get back until after 11 p.m., and once you do all you want to do is lay down and get some sleep.
Some guys bring things for entertainment like video games or electronic things like that, but all I brought is my cell phone. That's my No. 1 when I get back to my room. I use it to call back East to check up on my family and everything. It's super late when I call, but they always answer the phone and we talk for a little bit.
The first week for us as a defense, the goal was to keep everything clean and keep the mistakes to a minimum. I feel like we did a pretty good job with that, but we have to keep getting better. It's the little things that cost us last year, and we know if we aren't focused every day those little things can come back and get us again. I have a great feeling about this team. I think we can do some really good things this season, but we have to stay focused.
I did a lot of amazing things this past offseason, but going to the World Cup in South Africa was unbelievable. Just seeing people from all over the world is amazing. Soccer is such a huge sport. I thought football was big, but no, we don't have anything on soccer. It's not even close. Those stadiums are so big and they pack them full; then outside of the stadium you have people watching the game on a big screen. It's unbelievable. It kind of made me wish I was a soccer player. If I was, I'd probably be a goalie because I'm kind of quick with my reflexes.
The games themselves were exciting, but the officiating kind of messed up some of them. A lot of blown calls and things like, but hey, that's what it is. Maybe the only other thing I didn't like about the World Cup were those vuvuzelas; they were annoying. You do get used to them, but it takes time. The first game I went to they were all I could hear, but it was better after that.
South Africa is an unbelievably beautiful country. It's just so colorful. And the people were so nice everywhere you went. They were so hospitable. It just felt good. That was really my first time outside the country to relax and just enjoy myself. We went on a safari and the wildlife there was unbelievable. I liked it. And the food was really spicy, and I don't really do the spicy food. It wasn't bad, but I just don't do spicy food. If you like spicy food, that's definitely the place for you.
All this talk of food just got me to thinking about my favorite places to eat back here in the United States. My No. 1 is probably this soul food place in St. Louis called Sweetie Pie's. We always go there when we play the Rams. When we get back to the hotel after our walk through on Saturday morning you literally see everyone outside hopping into cabs heading to this restaurant. It's a real small restaurant, but the food is unbelievable.
There's also this place in North Carolina that I ate at this last offseason that was amazing. I was down there visiting former teammate Marcus Hudson and he took me to this bistro, I can't think of the name right now, but it was great. You get your own chef and they make your food right there in front of you. I also love this seafood place in Harlem, I can't think of the name of it either, but it's great. They have this salmon that they wrap in seaweed which is delicious. I know it sounds weird, but it's great. When the lady was describing it to me, I was like, "You eat seaweed?" I decided to try it though and I'm glad I did. After they wrap the salmon in seaweed they dip it in some batter and they deep fried it. Oh man, it was so good. I never thought I'd be eating seaweed, but I loved it. And, there's another great seafood spot in Half Moon Bay. I just love food. I'm really a fat guy at heart.
I tell you what fans, if you send in some good restaurants from your city I'll try to stop in there when we're on the road and maybe I'll do a little review of them on 49ers.com. Send the names of those restaurants along with the city to the team's Twitter account, @SF_49ers, and I'll see what I can do.
Throughout the first week of training camp, a lot of guys were watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel when we got back to the hotel. But not me. I'm not a water guy – I can't swim. I've talked about this in my blog before. I told you guys the story of when we had the pool workout and I told strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle that I couldn't swim and he didn't believe me. I almost drowned in there. So no Shark Week for me. The show I'm watching right now is Entourage, but I didn't get to see the most recent episode. I missed it and we don't have DVR or anything like that. In fact, we only have about 10 channels in the hotel, and I think four of them are ESPN.
Brit Miller just walked over here and he's talking TV with me right now. Brit's my main man, I call him "Big Neck." We were saying how we're never in the hotel to watch the good shows. He said he watches late-night HBO every night, and that he's seen Terminator: Salvation about five times already.
Stay tuned for the rest of my camp blog. I'm sure as we go on I'll have some great stories for all of you.