The 2014 NFL Draft is a couple days away, but while the personnel folks are finalizing draft boards and contingency plans, the coaching staff and current players are at practice continuing their preparations for the 2014 season. After two weeks limited to strength and conditioning work, we are now at Phase 2 of the offseason workout program.
This is a big step, as now the entire San Francisco 49ers coaching staff can work with their players. The first two weeks allowed for strength and conditioning work, as well as rehab work. The only coaches allowed to be involved on the field with the players were strength and conditioning coaches who have no other coaching responsibilities with the team. The start of Phase 2 allows the rest of the coaching staff on the field with the players.
Phase 2 allows for individual player instruction and drills on the field. it also allows for "perfect play" drills, which are offense only or defense only, but not offense vs. defense. This includes team offense vs. team defense drills, as well as individual offense vs. defense drills, such as one-on-one offensive offensive line vs. defensive line pass rush/pass protection, or wide receivers vs. defensive backs in bump-and-run drills.
Finally, it allows for special teams drills on a "separates" basis, which means kicking team or return team, but not kicking team vs. return team. Phase 2 allows for no live contact, and players are not allowed to wear helmets during the phase.
This phase covers the next three weeks, which means there will be rookies on the roster as this progresses. Matt Maiocco made a good point on Monday, pointing out that the push-back of the draft means some rookies will be able to take part in the offseason workout program from the get-go. For those who don't remember, last year, after the 49ers drafted Quinton Patton, the rookie receiver immediately got his stuff together, flew out to Santa Clara and rented a car to drive to the facility. The 49ers had to send him back because he had to wait until the rookie minicamp a week later.
Normally, players cannot take part in the main offseason workout program until their school has completed all final exams. However, as Maiocco pointed out, some schools will finish their exams in early May. Those on the quarter system (a smaller group) won't finish until late May or June, but a lot of schools will wrap up earlier. Texas A&M was the example MM used, but plenty of other schools will also be finished. When the draft finishes up, I'll put together a rundown of the final exam dates for each school.