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Breaking down the CBA: Training camp rules

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The 49ers begin full contact work on Saturday. We break down the rules related to that, and the rest of training camp.

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The San Francisco 49ers kick off their third day of full team practice Saturday afternoon, and this particular practice is big because it marks the first day of full contact work. Colin Kaepernick and the other quarterbacks will be protected, but Saturday will see some legitimate physicality on display.

Given the timing of this, I figured I would provide the latest in our series of articles breaking down the current collective bargaining agreement. Article 23 provides rules for preseason training camp, covering everything from per diem to reporting deadlines to how practices may be conducted.

Expenses, per diem, room and board

A player's contract pays a base salary, but that base salary is generally only paid during the 17 weeks of the regular season. Players can request an alternate pay schedule, but for base salary, payment comes during the regular season.

During training camp, players receive compensation in a variety of ways. Section 2 of the Article provides that all players players will receive room and board during the pre­-season training camp. Additionally, if a player has not established residence in the team's city, the team has to provide housing between training camp and the Tuesday prior to the team's first regular season game.

Section 3 and 4 provide that all players will receive per diem payments starting the first day of training camp, and ending one week prior to the team's first regular season game. There is one rate for rookies and "first year" players, and another rate for veteran players. A "first year" player is a player who has not completed a season in which a year of "credited service" has been earned. Players on the practice squad would be an example of that. Rookies and first year players get a per diem at a weekly rate of $925, while veterans get a per diem at a weekly rate of $1,700.

Section 8 provides that the team will reimburse all players under contract for reasonable travel expenses incurred in reaching training camp from the players' residences. The players need to submit vouchers. If a player is released by the team, he will be reimbursed for their return trip to their residence, upon submission of vouchers

Veteran reporting date

Veterans cannot be required to report to the official preseason training camp earlier than 15 days prior to the team's first scheduled preseason game, or July 15, whichever is later. This includes one day for physical examinations, meetings, classroom instruction, running, and conditioning.


Day 1: Limited to physical examinations, meetings, and classroom instruction; no on-field activities other than running and conditioning

Day 2-3: No contact permitted, no pads worn

Day 4 and on: Two-a-day practices permitted with following rules:

  • Players may be on the field for a total of no more than 4 hours per day;
  • Players may participate in no more than 1 padded practice per day, which shall be no longer than 3 hours of on-field activities;
  • There must be at least a 3 hour break after the practice, and the second practice on the same day may only be for a maximum of the remaining available on-field time, and shall be limited to only "walk-through" instruction (i.e., no helmets, full-speed pre-snap, and walking pace after the snap).
  • The three-hour limit on padded practices shall begin as soon as position coaches begin to coach players on the field.
  • In the event that a Club begins a padded practice but such practice is cancelled within sixty minutes of its commencement due to inclement weather or for any other reason beyond the Club's control, such practice shall not count as a padded practice
  • A "padded practice" shall be defined as a practice in which players are required to wear helmets and shoulder pads, in addition to any other equipment required by the Club.
  • It is not a padded practice if, 1) QBs, kickers, punters, and/or long snappers only wear helmets and/or shoulder pads during practice at the option of the player(s); 2) a player who suffered a head injury is directed by a club physician to wear a helmet as a precautionary measure; 3) the quarterback and/or the defensive player who receives signals from the coaching staff via helmet communication wear helmets during the team period in which helmets are used for such communication.


Teams have to film all on-field activities, and maintain a copy of any film until 30 days after the start of the regular season. The NFLPA can review the films only upon the filing of a complaint alleging a violation the Article 23.