The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their 2014 mandatory minicamp on Thursday. This marks the end of the offseason workout program, and the last organized team work until training camp gets going July 23. Players can stick around the facility over the next month, but the closest that comes to organized work is that strength and conditioning coaches can supervise their workouts, but just to make sure they're not hurting themselves.
The practice wrapped up after only 55 minutes (previous practices have been a couple hours). The team closes practice with some stretching, which means Jim Harbaugh calls over head strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama. When he called him over today, the players got excited because it was happening early, and it meant they were wrapping up minicamp a little quicker than expected. Players hooted and hollered at Uyeyama as he came over. It was very much a "school's out for summer" vibe.
After the final stretching, Coach Harbaugh spoke with the assembled players before dismissing them. Coach Harbaugh then spoke with the media, and provided a brief taste of his comments to the players:
“Beware with whom you associate. Very important to know your surroundings. Friend or foe. There always seems to be a foe present. Get into a good football position and be ready for anything that’s coming at you. Be able to see around corners, see under doors, anticipate. But mainly, surround yourself with good people.”
Given what we see when some professional athletes have too much free time on their hands, this is not the most surprising of comments. These are adults, who can make adult decisions, but it's always nice to remind them not to do something stupid. We don't need players getting arrested for drunk driving, or smashing a teammate over the head with a beer bottle, or doing anything that creates headaches for the team. I don't think seeing a player sporting an opposing team's hat at a July 4th party is the end of the world, but otherwise, it'd be nice if nobody did anything overly stupid. Well, at least don't get caught!
Colin Kaepernick spoke to the media in the locker room, and
Head coach Jim Harbaugh was saying that his outgoing speech to you guys about surrounding yourself with positive people. What do you take away from that? A lot of players in the locker room say they completely agreed.
“Yeah, you want to keep good people around at all times regardless of where you’re at.”
[D]o you find yourself now a little bit more guarded or wary of what he talked about people lurking around the corner with not your best interests in mind?
“A lot more.”
When did you – was that even before this offseason?
“Yeah, I would say since I really started playing it’s something I’ve been more aware of and especially in the past few months. It’s something that obviously you have to be very aware of.”
Is that what you took away from the Miami situation?
“Yeah, for the most part.”
Kap has seen how quickly people will pounce on any small incident. It's not surprising he would grow more guarded, particularly after the craziness of the Miami situation. It's a shame a player has to become more guarded, but that's just the way things are going to be when you become mega-famous.
Now, we head into the offseason, and hope for the best from everybody. I would much prefer the next month be a struggle to find news about the team. I don't have any interest in writing about a 49ers player doing something mind-numbingly stupid. My fingers will remain crossed for the next 33 days. I suppose in reality they're crossed for some players beyond that, but generally speaking, I just hope people realize what's at stake as we head into a season in which the 49ers are one of the favorites to raise the Lombardi Trophy next February. Players just need to avoid doing anything that would jeopardize that.