The NFL offseason is hardly a time of rest and relaxation. Yes, players have a chance to let their bodies heal, enjoy some time with friends and family away from the team’s facility and then quickly get back to work preparing for the next season.
Tackle Joe Staley also took advantage of the down time to go under the knife….well, laser. Don’t worry, the procedure was not major and not even a result of playing football. After having lasik eye surgery, Staley can now throw away the contacts that have been a part of him for so long.
“I’ve worn contacts since I was in seventh grade and it really became annoying,” Staley said. ”The opportunity came to my attention to get lasik eye surgery with Dr. Scott Hyver. My dad had it done four years ago and he has been really happy. He told me how easy the procedure was so I though it would be a good idea.”
Though playing with contacts is common in the NFL, the third-year lineman recalled times when he got frustrated after opponents’ hands would get inside his face mask and knock out his contacts. But his decision solves much more than having to head to the sidelines for a new pair of lenses.
“I didn’t just think about it benefiting my football career, it’s just benefited my life,” Staley said. ”It’s good not to have to wake up an put contacts in and not have to worry about getting an eye infection if I forget to take my contacts out.”
Staley still has to be careful initially as he’s been given a long list of do’s and don’ts.
“I can’t rub my eyes, which I’ve done about 47 times already,” joked Staley. ”It’s really hard not to rub your eyes, especially when you’re in the shower and you have to get the water out. I keep freaking out that I’m going to go blind whenever I cant myself rubbing my eyes. They told me that my lens would come off, but I wouldn’t go blind. They would just have to do the surgery again.”
One of the items Staley has been given to help prevent him having to go in for a second procedure is a pair of goggles similar to those worn by former NBA start Horace Grant.
“They’re these plastic specs,” Staley said. ”I have to wear them at night for this first week so I don’t rub my eyes without knowing it. I’ve also been really good though about using my eye drops. I have artificial tears that I can put in my eyes to prevent them from drying out.”
As a result, Staley can see clearly now…even if the rain wasn’t gone at Tuesday’s OTA session. Below is a video as well as a few photos from Tuesday. For more photos, view our photo gallery.
Tags: 2010 OTAs, Alex Smith, Brandon Jones, Joe Staley, Scott McKillop, Vance Joseph
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In the spirit of March Madness, linebacker Scott McKillop paid tribute to Kentucky’s dynamic freshman point guard during Monday’s first OTA practice session of the 2010 offseason. While making “reload” calls in reaction to shifts by the offense, the second-year player from Pittsburgh not only called out the change in assignments, he did so with flare.
“I did the John Wall dance a couple of times, he’s the guard from Kentucky,” linebacker Scott McKillop said. ”I also did a little Spiderman, a little bowling and a few leg kicks. I just wanted to make it fun so when the offense watches film, we can laugh about it.”
McKillop and the rest of his teammates are much more relaxed at this point of the year than any other season in recent memory. The offense will be running the same system for two years in a row while McKillop will play in a defense that will be headed up by Greg Manusky for the fourth straight season.
“I’ve got about a month head start compared to last year and I’m familiar with the guys, familiar with the system,” McKillop said. ”I’m more comfortable so you can have fun. If you can’t have fun out there, you shouldn’t be playing.”
Like McKillop, the rest of the players went through a very lively practice, especially considering training camp is roughly five months away. Below is a video and several photos from Monday.
QB Alex Smith
WR Michael Crabtree
TE coach Pete Hoener with the tight end group
LB Takeo Spikes
Tags: 2010 OTAs, Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, Scott McKillop, Takeo Spikes
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The search begins today to see which women will become members of the 2010 Gold Rush presented by Coors Light. Maples Pavilion at Stanford University is now filled with dancers looking to join the world-famous cheerleading squad. Stay tuned to this blog throughout the day for photos from the auditions! All photos are courtesy of 49ers.com and Brandon Vaccaro photography.
Everyone has learned the first part of the dance and now it is time to perform in front of the judges.
The first round is now complete. The judges’ scores will be calculated and the first group will be cut in half before the second round begins.
“We’re teaching a little bit of the dance routine, checking out their crowd appeal, their energy and seeing if they have what it takes to make the squad,” said Erin Olmstead, director of the 49ers Gold Rush. “They perform in groups of three in front of our esteemed judges panel and then wait to see if their name is called. Those girls are welcome to stay and learn another routine so they can go through the whole process again. Hopefully their number will be called again at the end of the day as we announce our finalists.”
The members of the 2009 Gold Rush will have to re-audition as well. They were given a bye for the first round and will rejoin the group to learn the entire routine shortly. We’ll keep you updated with more photos as the second round begins.
LEARNING SECOND HALF OF THE ROUTINE
All the ladies are making their way down to the court now to perform the entire routine in front of the judges.
Tags: gold rush
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Starting on Monday of next week, the 49ers will begin their organized team activities at team headquarters with a two-day session. The other 12 pad-less offseason practices are likely to occur after the NFL Draft in late April.
Last year, the 49ers first OTA session included a rigorous conditioning circuit that left the players better prepared for how head coach Mike Singletary likes to run his offseason practices.
In year two, players who have been working out at the facility feel like they’re ready for what’s to come this time around.
“Being here helps out a whole lot, you’re able to bond with the guys and get to work with them early,” fullback Moran Norris said. “We have OTAs Monday, so these last two weeks have been good for familiarizing myself with the new guys. And when the other guys come in on Monday, it’ll be like we have a big ol’ family.”
Last year’s rookies who were introduced to a similar circuit training session for their first NFL minicamp are also benefitting from their time at the team’s offseason conditioning program.
“It’s different than the type of training I did in college,” second-year linebacker Scot McKillop said. “I definitely like it. It’s more position-specific for the player.”
After each player underwent performance testing in the opening days of this year’s offseason program, the 49ers strength staff have since implemented designed workouts to help each individual.
“I’ve been here two weeks and we have a great turnout of players. This isn’t mandatory, but a lot of us are here,” McKillop added. “I know we’re all excited about the upcoming season.”
But are they ready for a possible round of circuit conditioning?
“I don’t know if we’ll do that again,” McKillop said. “But regardless of what we do, we’ll be prepared.”
Essential in getting the most out of the Monday-Friday offseason workouts at 49ers headquarters, is compiling the perfect playlist for the weight room.
Most teammates would agree that the right song can get the entire room amped up for whatever lifting they’re doing at the time. The only problem is getting the players to agree on the soundtrack.
Currently, Norris resides as the main offseason DJ when the skill players are lifting. But he’s willing to take input from teammates on new songs to add.
Norris recently unveiled his latest creation for the second week of the team’s offseason condition program.
“I just put on songs that I knew guys would get up to and get the weight room going,” the 10-year veteran said earlier in the week. “Our strength and conditioning staff does such a great job with everything; I just try to help our (lift) numbers get up.”
Norris’ selections included up-tempo music which helped the other skill players focus on the tasks at hand.
“Sometimes you get an extra push from the music. It makes things a little more entertaining down there, just without the distraction,” McKillop said.
When offensive linemen are the ones stationed in the weight room, center Eric Heitmann takes over the music choices.
“He’ll play whatever rock station that day and we’ll go with it,” tackle Alex Boone said, who prefers the heavy metal sounds of Pantera when he’s lifting.
No need to worry, there will be plenty of time for song selections as offseason workouts have just begun.
Tags: Alex Boone, Eric Heitmann, Moran Norris, Scot McKillop
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After signing a one-year deal on Tuesday, veteran tackle Barry Sims has returned to the 49ers for a third season. Sims was a hot commodity this offseason as reports had him being targeted by several NFL teams. But in the end, Sims felt home was where his heart was, and that’s with his teammates in San Francisco.
Following a nine-year stint with the Oakland Raiders, Sims crossed the Bay Area and found a home with the 49ers in 2008. The relationships built along the way were too hard for Sims to ignore. In the end, the chance for more playing time elsewhere couldn’t compete with the developing relationship Sims has in the Bay Area with his teammates.
“When you go away, it was a real eye-opening experience just to see that you have to re-establish relationships with everybody and I would really miss the guys here in San Francisco,” Sims said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “We have such a great group of guys, especially on the offensive line. I really look forward to working with those guys.”
Below you can read the highlights of Sims’ conference call with Bay Area reporters. You can also listen to the interview here.
On whether he sees himself in the swing tackle role that he had last season:
“Yes, I assume that would be the case, to provide depth and with my experience, be able to play both sides and really help the younger guys develop a little quicker.”
On the 49ers possibly using a first round pick on an offensive lineman:
“Well, I’ve always tried my best to guess in these situations of what’s going on, but I’m usually never right. If they do draft an offensive lineman, we would love to have him and I like working with the young guys and just try to mentor them a little bit like some of the older guys did for me when I first got into the league because it’s a lot different from college. To have someone who’s been there and done that to really take you in and show you how things work and how it’s supposed to go, it’s a fun role to have.”
On whether he was pleasantly surprised with his play after T Joe Staley went down with an injury:
“I wasn’t surprised. I’ve been a starter my whole career, so I didn’t have the big eyes. It wasn’t a concern from that standpoint, and as a backup, you really have to prepare yourself like you are going to play at any given time. In that case it just so happened, in the Indianapolis game, on the first play of the game. I was ready to go regardless of what happened. I think being a veteran and having that experience really helped me. I didn’t ever doubt myself at any point.”
On whether he’s gotten a feel for offensive line coach Mike Solari and how things might change from the past two seasons:
“I’ve talked to him a number of times on the phone and I met with him today. I really like the guy. I like his approach, working in the room with us as a line. I’m excited for where that goes. He’s got a great track record as an offensive line coach and has coached many good players. So, I’m excited to see that. Playing a new offensive line coach is not always easy, but sometimes when you play for guys that have been around a lot of great players, they bring a lot to the table just because of what they’ve seen. Maybe what they’ve taught or seen from somebody else that they can teach you that can take you to the next level. So I’m real excited about that.”
On whether they will be doing more zone blocking than they did under former offensive line coach Chris Foerster:
“That remains to be seen. I really don’t know to that extent. Today was the first time I met him in person. We still have a ways to go before training camp and before we get all our systems in place. You know never what’s going to happen as the offense goes, working with the guys to see what works best. It’s hard to say at this point.”
On whether it was a group meeting with the entire offensive line:
“Yes, I met with the whole offensive line. It’s great to be back in the room with those guys. It’s been a couple months since we’ve all been together so it’s always fun to get back into a routine working out and spending time with those guys.”
Tags: Barry Sims
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Saturday will be another action-packed day here at the 49ers 10th Annual Celebrity Winter Fest. Center Cody Wallace and guard Tony Wragge got things started, participating in a Cardiogolf session taught by Karen Jansen.
Jansen walked the two offensive linemen, guests and Gold Rush cheerleaders through a series of warm-up movements and then broke down the golf swing step by step.
“It was a lot of fun,” Wragge said. “Karen taught me that the basic principles of the swing haven’t changed, but they need to be perfected. That’s one of the things I really need to work on as a big guy. I need to work on my flexibility, core strength and the basics. I need to focus on following through properly. I don’t always get out enough since I’m focused on football, but I always like to improve my game.”
With a golf club not much more than two feet long, Wragge did feel somewhat awkward while receiving the instruction.
“The club probably goes up to my mid-thigh so it was kind of goofy but the principles were still the same,” Wragge said. “It makes a lot of sense when you use the club, but it started to feel like kiddie golf for since I’m so big.”
There will be an ice sculpting demonstration and competition at 1:00, followed by a Chalk Talk session with the players and coached at 3:00. Stay tuned!
We just got finished with the ice carving competition where teams were asked to carve 49ers helmets. Each team of two went with their own creative touches, including everything from hollowing out the face mask as well as adding eyes and cracks from game play.
“We have fractures in the top of the helmet,” said Seth Gersch, 49ers Foundation board member. “We have a bad, bad bruise in the front of the helmet. We have a very abstract look to our helmet and we’re very pleased with the result.”
“This is the helmet after the Super Bowl game,” added James Kyson-Lee, the actor who play’s Ando from Heroes. “It’s a true work of art. It represents the journey of an athlete through the Super Bowl after an NFL season.”
While Kyson-Lee and Gersch were thrilled with their final product, linebacker Parys Haralson was left frustrated after experiencing technical difficulties when his drill bit broke.
“Our drill bit was a little short,” Haralson said. “I told [the instructor] my bit wouldn’t get deep enough because we were trying to get up in there.”
Josh Morgan also had some hardware problems after giving his carving took to the neighboring Takeo Spikes. Morgan’s team still managed to finish with a very nice looking helmet.
“I was the inspiration, but my partner did most of the work,” Morgan said. “We carved it to perfection. We were doing fine until we tried to share [with Spikes] and be good sports and they broke our tool so that put us back a little bit. We’re going to win. We have the eyes, my umber in the back and the S-F. If it wasn’t melting so bad, it would look perfect.”
The teams will have to wait until the dinner reception tonight to find out who won.
The Chalk Talk this afternoon was a huge success. Head coach Mike Singletary started the event by stating the team’s philosophy and mission heading into the 2010 season.
Then, running backs coach Tom Rathman demonstrated the four points of pressure in order to ensure ball security, the key component of Rathman’s coaching philosophy. It was evident that Rathman had given his daughter Samantha the same instruction as his players as the coach enlisted her help to go over proper ball carrying technique.
Each of the players also walked the audience through several plays in a film session similar to what the they might go through in one of their team meetings.
One of the most interesting moments came in the Q&A session that followed, when quarterback Alex Smith broke down offensive play calls, describing what each part of the call means and the many options he has to change a play after it has been called in the huddle. Having played in several different offensive systems, he described the different ways of calling plays in the digit system the team uses currently and the West Coast offense which Smith ran during his first year in the NFL.
“It was incredible,” Eileen Goodwin said after the conclusion of the Chalk Talk. “As a person who watches football but has never played, they really made it understandable. Every one of them has a terrific personality and it really came through in their answers.”
Goodwin was also the winner of the raffle for an autographed football. However, since Rathman drew her number, the coach pulled a pop quiz and made her recite the four points of pressure he taught earlier. Being put on the spot, Goodwin passed and was able to receive her reward.
“I remember when he played and I can see why he’s a great coach,” Goodwin said about Rathman. “It stuck in my head. Having his daughter come up and demonstrate made it easier for me to perform it later.”
The evening schedule is the same as Friday night. There is a reception and silent auction at 5:30 followed by dinner and a live auction at 6:30.
UPDATE: John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls closed the event with an exclusive concert for all the guests at the Celebrity Winter Fest. Here are a few photos from the final night.
Tags: Alex Smith, Celebrity Winter Fest, Cody Wallace, Josh Morgan, Parys Haralson, Tom Rathman, Tony Wragge
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Day two of the 49ers 10th Annual Celebrity Winter Fest began with a workout session led by the 49ers Gold Rush. After that, many of the guests hit the slopes on another gorgeous day.
At 11:30, I headed down to the ice rink at The Resort at Squaw Creek as Olympic gold medalist Dan Jansen held a skating demonstration. I hadn’t been ice skating in at least 10 years so I was definitely in need of some instruction.
Jansen showed proper skating form, including how to turn and stop.
“As a skater, I’m a lot like a NASCAR driver,” Jansen said. “I go fast and turn left. I’m not so good at right turns.”
Jansen didn’t mind giving some of his time at the event as the money raised goes to support the 49ers Foundation.
“We’re going to have a good time and this is all about raising money for the kids in San Francisco,” Jansen said.
After the skating clinic, 49ers alums Dwight Clarke, Dwaine Board and Guy McIntyre showed off their Super Bowl rings and mingled with guests on the sun deck.
That’s it for now as I just have a few minutes to get downstairs for a wine seminar and food pairing. I’ll check back throughout the afternoon and evening with more updates.
I just got back to my room after a very informative Wine Seminar & Food Pairing session featuring a few of the vintners who will be pouring throughout the Celebrity Winter Fest. Five vintners provided those in attendance with a glass of sparkling wine, savingnon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and a glass of cabernet savignon. An appetizer was served with each wine with an explanation given for the pairing.
Alex Smith, Tony Wragge and Josh Morgan were in attendance and it was the first time Morgan had been wine tasting.
“It was quite an experience,” Morgan said. “My favorite wine was the savignon blanc. The only time I’ve been to Napa was when we practiced with the Raiders.”
While Morgan enjoyed the session, some of the food took him a little out of his comfort zone.
“I was trying to be a good sport, but then when we got to the beef mole and they said it was made from cheek, I decided to skip the last few items and take it easy on my stomach,” Morgan joked.
Here’s the schedule for the rest of the evening:
5:00 – wine tasting and silent auction
6:30 – dinner and live auction
Hopefully there will be a lot of money raised tonight to support the 49ers Foundation.
UPDATE: Here are a few photos from the evening…
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Competition doesn’t just exist inside of NFL stadiums or on practice fields, it’s long rooted in the offseason workouts held at various team facilities around the league.
It’s at these conditioning programs that players compete against each other in almost everything they do.
And those competitions are reason enough for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Justin Smith to train at 49ers headquarters, even when he could easily get in shape anywhere he chooses.
“I think replicating the running and the amount of stuff we do is hard to do on your own, to be honest with you. You can wake up and be like, ‘I’m going to do all this stuff,’ and not ever do it,” Smith explained. “Being here around the guys brings out the competing and I think competing is the main reason we’re all here.
“We can compete on every lift and every run, so it makes us all work harder.”
Smith was named to his first Pro Bowl after his second year with the 49ers, thanks to the effort he puts into everything he does, offseason workouts included.
But even after experiencing the Pro Bowl atmosphere for the first time in his nine NFL seasons, Smith isn’t letting it change his goals.
“I want to win. I’m not focused on going to another Pro Bowl honestly. For me, it’s let’s win, get to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl. That’s what it’s all about.”
Veterans and young players alike have been adamant about taking part in the offseason program, but it becomes even more important if it’s their first chance to work out in the offseason with their teammates.
“It’s good being here because I can get a head-start with the playbook and focus on 49er football,” running back Glen Coffee said.
Coffee spent the offseason determined to get ready for his second NFL season and will use the 49ers offseason program to further prepare himself for the rigors of pro football’s calendar.
“I’ll be lifting on Fridays too. I don’t have anywhere really to go. For me, it’s all about preparing my body for the season,” he said.
Tags: Justin Smith
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The day is finally here for the beginning of the 10th Annual Celebrity Winter Fest, a great event presented by Thomson Reuters benefiting the 49ers Foundation. Guests began to check in around noon and once again, there’s gorgeous weather up here at The Resort at Squaw Creek. I’ll keep you updated on the blog throughout the conclusion of the event Sunday morning.
Former 49ers defensive lineman Dwaine Board just checked in. All guests go straight to the registration desk and then down to the Maui Jim kiosk to pick up their Maui Jim sunglasses. Josh Morgan should arrive in about and hour so I’ll have more info when he arrives. There is a reception scheduled for 6:00 tonight, followed by a S’mores roasting session out on the deck. Stay tuned!
Offensive linemen Adam Snyder and Cody Wallace just checked in at the hotel. Snyder had his hands full, pushing the stroller for his son Kael. This will be Snyder’s fourth time attending the Celebrity Winter Fest as it’s become a tradition he looks forward to.
“It’s a great group of people and we’re supporting a great foundation,” Snyder said. “Being a part of this is really special for us. My wife does a lot of work with the 49ers Academy and we enjoy being around this great group of people.”
Snyder, a native of Southern California, is also an avid surfer, but hasn’t yet seen if his skills riding the waves can translate to the slopes.
“Playing football, I’ve never had the chance to do it,” Snyder said. “I think my skills would translate well though.”
Last year, Snyder’s son was too young to play in the snow, but this year, he’s become much more adventurous.
“This is his second year up here,” Snyder said. “Now he’s walking and he might have a little more fun this year running in the snow. We brought him some shovels to play with so it should be a really nice stay up here.”
Add in great food, lots of fun activities and terrific local wines and it’s a time everyone can enjoy.
Josh Morgan just checked in, see the photo above. The evening reception is underway so I have to run in there to make the last hour, then off to roast the perfect s’more.
I just got back to my room after a highly entertaining evening. After a reception featuring excellent food, Josh Morgan and Cody Wallace got competitive by the fire pit to see who could make the best s’more. Wallace went with two helpings of chocolate on his first attempt and immediately regretted his decision while Morgan was just focused on completing the task since it was his first time making the fireside treat. The Gold Rush also assisted some of the children at the event and made a few for themselves as well. Here’s a few more photos from the evening below. Things get started again early tomorrow, so stay tuned for more updates.
Tags: 49ers Foundation, Celebrity Winter Fest, Cody Wallace, Dwaine Board, gold rush, Josh Morgan
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Anthony Becht, a 10-year veteran who has played for four NFL franchises most recently the Arizona Cardinals, met with 49ers officials on Tuesday.
Becht spoke with head coach Mike Singletary and others to offer his services to the 49ers.
“The need is for a blocking tight end, that’s what my skill-set is,” Becht said during an informal interview with several Bay Area reporters. “I can still catch; I can still run and do all those things.”
Becht said he plans to “bring a dominating attitude to the edge,” but also give “leeway to the other tight ends.”
After battling the 49ers in divisional games last season, Becht has been familiarized with the 49ers personnel.
“They’re improving. They’re an aggressive team and obviously Coach Singletary brings that attitude, it translates well for their players on the field. They’re definitely up and coming and taking the proper steps where it needs to be. I think they’re going to continue to have success and Coach Singletary will do a good job for them.”
To watch Becht’s interview from Tuesday, click here.
March 10, Update:
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this morning that Becht has elected to re-sign with the Cardinals and stay in the city where he’s played the last two seasons.
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