49ers news: Training camp could start as early as mid July
By Peter Panacy
Training camp for the 49ers and other NFL teams could be moved up a few weeks in 2020
It’s been a weird offseason for the San Francisco 49ers and 31 other teams across the NFL.
Those used to the usual calendar of offseason events — rookie minicamps, organized team activities and such — have seen essentially everything conducted remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made the 2020 offseason one of the more unusual ones in recent memory.
It’s not necessarily without precedent, though. Back in 2011, the league was going through a lockout, which cut into teams’ abilities to prepare their squads in usual accordance.
But to get teams back on track, there’s an idea the league could open up training camp a bit earlier than the typical late-July scenario, at least according to The MMQB’s Albert Breer.
Here’s what Breer had to say:
"The new [Collective Bargaining Agreement] dictates that teams can report 47 days before their first regular season game (a change from the old 14-day rule), meaning the report date for most teams would be July 28. Meanwhile, the joint committee on health and safety is recommending an acclimation period before camp, given the lack of football activity these guys have had, of at least a week or two (and up to three). The good news is, the new CBA builds in a five-day acclimation period. The bad news is players may need more than that under these unique circumstances. So the league has floated the idea of an earlier report date closer to the middle of July, to give players a better chance to get their feet underneath them."
So the basic gist of this would be between one to three weeks’ time before the approximate July 28 start date, and the current CBA already accounts for a five-day acclimation period anyway.
The only question, however, would be whether or not the players union is open to opening up camps earlier than normal, although Breer thinks there are other options in case the NFLPA isn’t open to doing this:
"The union has been, understandably, protective of the players’ vacation time. And the desires of individual players are all over the map (a rookie and 10-year vet are going to have different needs and priorities, of course). One more extreme option that’s been discussed, if the union holds firm on the report date, is the idea of canceling the first week of preseason games to allow for an acclimation period and enough actual football practice before players head into live action."
How would a team like the 49ers fall into all of this?
Well, there are a certain number of caveats to consider. On the positive side, the Niners largely retained the majority of their Super Bowl roster from a season ago, so there should be some notable continuity and familiarity with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system. Yet that system is awfully complex, and new players to the offense would require some adjustment. This likely wouldn’t affect new faces to San Francisco who have already played under Shanahan before (i.e. right guard Tom Compton and left tackle Trent Williams).
But for a rookie, such as wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk or offensive lineman Colton McKivitz, the learning curve will be much more difficult to master.
For new players, particularly rookies, an extended camp would help make up for the lost time usually spent acclimating in OTAs and minicamps.
Another potential bonus would be on the injury front, particularly if the start of the preseason is pushed back or cut to three games. Case in point, the 49ers are still trying to help center Weston Richburg navigate the serious knee injury suffered against the New Orleans Saints last season.
Giving a player like Richburg some added recovery time would be helpful, sure.
The biggest thing to note, however, will be the need for San Francisco and other teams to properly prepare for the upcoming season while also accounting for the lack of practical field time typically in place.
And there’s no quick and easy solution, either.
Hat tip to Kyle Posey of Niners Nation for the find.