San Francisco 49ers Training Camp: Less is More?

Joseph BurkeyAnalyst IJuly 14, 2010

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 04:  Head coach Mike Singletary looks on during the 49ers training camp at their training facilities on August 4, 2009 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Football is a physical game, and to prepare for the crunching damage teams incur over the NFL season, a physical training camp only makes sense.

The iron-sharpens-iron mentality invokes serious competition way before Week One rolls around, and I'll die of shock if the 49ers make it through training camp with zero injuries. Players are going to be forging their bodies and minds into game shape by banging their pads and helmets flat, so is an extra couple of days off from camp a big deal?

Yes, and no. But mostly no.

A recent NFC West blog posed the question as to why the 49ers start their training camp August 2nd when the Rams begin theirs two days prior.

The answer is actually quite simple, although the details transcend beyond the basics.

As the blog points out, by NFL rules, "No veteran player other than quarterbacks and injured players will be required to report to a club's official preseason training camp earlier than 15 days (including one day for physical examinations) prior to its first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later. The July 15 date will not apply to clubs participating in the Canton Hall of Fame Game or any American Bowl game scheduled around the Canton Hall of Fame Game date."

The 49ers play their first game on the 15th, and the Rams play their first game on the 14th. San Francisco could report for physicals July 31 and then practice August 1st, but they don't report until the 2nd.

Think back to the last day of organized team activities: Singletary canceled practice the day before Father's Day. The move was viewed in several lights. Some said the head coach was getting soft; others saw it as a brilliant motivational technique.

The essence of an occupation, however, is that when you get a day off Monday, the rest of the week will be a little hectic.

Singletary runs a tough ship. Players don't show up to practice expecting a relaxing vacation; they come to work. If they put their best foot forward and absorb as much as they can from every practice they attend, a day off here and there can benefit them as well.

In fact, being able to tell your players, "St. Louis already has a two-day head start on us" might be a motivational trick all on its own.

In seriousness though, Mike Singletary knows what he's about to put his players through, even if they don't. The legendary linebacker played for Mike Ditka in the 1980's and remembers what a severe training camp feels like.

The 49ers are going to go through a champion-making crucible of drills and exercise. This kind of player smiting is a careful chemistry, and ruining the materials could prove hazardous to the season.

So a couple days off to prepare could be a very good thing. For the intense summer pounding the 49ers are about to go through, there are plenty of days to get tough.

In the end, subtracting a day or two of camp should, in the 49ers case, yield a little bit more over the 2010 season.