Most of the recent coverage about the 49ers has dealt with the South Bay practices involving approximately fifteen players. The 49ers are one of many teams attempting to get workouts in while the NFL Lockout continues to lurch along. Whatever your thoughts on the two sides of this dispute, the significant issue right now, everybody has to deal with the hurdle of staying in shape and getting ready for the 2011 season.
We've seen a variety of stories about different teams conducting workouts, with the Saints probably the most notable with a huge chunk of the roster on hand (as best I can recall). The 49ers are a ways off from having their entire roster on hand with players spread out all around the country (just check Twitter). It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in terms of who will have an advantage early in the season.
Matt Barrows linked to an interesting article discussing how the Washington Redskins won Super Bowls in strike years thanks to solidarity of the players in organizing practices. The question this year will be whether we see a team benefit from the lockout as compared to the rest of the league. Will a team like the Saints have the early edge thanks to these bigger workouts? Will that edge wear off as the season progresses?
Of course, one can also expect that teams with players having numerous years together, and a fairly consistent playbook over those years, will have an edge over teams like the 49ers and Browns, among others, when it comes to knowing the playbook and being able to implement it when the lockout ends. It's one of many relatively new issues raised by the lockout that will likely be a significant hurdle for the 49ers as the new season eventually unfolds.