The wait is over. Organized Team Activities kick-off Tuesday at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara. The players will take part in 10, voluntary OTA sessions that will allow veteran players to wear helmets for the first time this offseason.
Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley displayed his new look for the upcoming season by posting an Instagram photo of his new face-mask/dark grey visor combination.
As Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com notes, it’s the first offseason with the league’s new governing rules from the recent collective bargaining agreement taking effect. An emphasis on player safety stands as the biggest change.
However, it won’t be a completely full house for Tuesday’s opening OTA session. Notable rookies like second-round pick LaMichael James and undrafted wide receiver Chris Owusu can’t participate until their school graduation. According to Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, safety Michael Thomas (Stanford), offensive lineman Al Netter (Northwestern) and defensive lineman Patrick Butrym (Wisconsin) can take part in the OTAs because they’ve graduated.
James, however, has been around fellow rookie A.J. Jenkins. Only, it was away from team headquarters. The duo took part in last weekend’s NFLPA Rookie Premiere event and seemed to be creating an instant bond.
Find more on James, the latest 49ers headlines and more after the jump.
In a video posted by SB Nation, Jenkins interviewed James at the NFLPA event. Jenkins: “What can fans expect from you?” James: “They can expect excitement.”
Eric Branch of The San Francisco Chronicle examines comments made by coach Jim Harbaugh after the 2012 NFL Draft that compared James to Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice. Branch: “Based on their size, the James-Rice comparison appears apt. They had nearly identical height/weight measurements during their visits to the NFL combine and due to size concerns they both slipped to the bottom of the second round (Rice was selected 55th overall; James was No. 61) despite rushing for more than 4,900 yards in three college seasons.”
Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News shares the locker room layout inside team headquarters. Inman: “One of coach Jim Harbaugh’s methods to form a family-like bond among the 49ers last year was to shuffle up the locker stalls. And for the second straight season, offensive players often are sandwiched between defensive players, or vice versa.”
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com includes All-Pro defensive tackle Justin Smith among his seven most dominant players in the league today. Jeremiah: “I think the cat might finally be out of the bag: Justin Smith is one bad dude! It’s hard for a 5-technique in a three-man front to dominate a football game, but Smith does just that on a weekly basis. He has rare strength, power and balance to hold the point of attack against the run. Simply put, he’s immovable. He also has the quickness and awareness to shed blockers, locate the football and make the tackle. As a pass rusher, he makes it close to impossible for the offensive line to establish a clean pocket. He constantly gets push and offers a wide variety of hand moves to create pressure. The term walk-off usually applies to baseball players, but Justin made it relevant in the NFL last season. He made key plays to clinch wins over the Eagles, Lions and Giants (in their regular season matchup).”
Lastly, 49ers Football School sessions concluded on Monday, but not before young players shared insight on how the practices aided their development. Center Jonathan Goodwin reported to the Football School session and spoke with TV49 about his goals for 2012. Pro Bowl long snapper Brian Jennings, too, attended the work out and spoke about his continued focus on mechanics.
TWEET ABOUT IT
OTAs are here, looks like Aldon Smith’s ready to go.
Tags: A.J. Jenkins, Al Netter, Aldon Smith, Brian Jennings, Chris Owusu, Joe Staley, Jonathan Goodwin, Justin Smith, LaMichael James, Michael Thomas, Patrick Butrym
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