The San Francisco 49ers join four other teams this week starting the last phase of the offseason workout program. This is another big step in the offseason, followed by a mandatory minicamp, and then training camp. Well, with that looooong month of waiting in between. This latter portion of the offseason workout program is referred to as OTAs, or organized team practice activities.
OTAs mark the start of Phase 3 of the program, at which point the team can engage in team offense vs. team defense drills. Phase 1 consisted entirely of strength, conditioning and rehab work. Phase 2 allowed for individual coaching and "perfect play" drills in which only the offense or only the defense were on the field. With Phase 3, the team can really start to implement changes to the offense, and teach rookies and recent additions about the playbook.
The 49ers can conduct ten days worth of OTAs, and then a mandatory minicamp at the end. The OTAs will take place May 19-21, May 27-29, June 1-2 and June 4-5. The mandatory minicamp will take place June 9-11. OTAs have the following rules in place:
- No live contact is permitted.
- No one-on-one offense vs. defense drills are permitted (i.e., no offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen pass rush or pass protection drills, no wide receivers vs. defensive backs bump-and-run drills, and no one-on-one special teams drills involving both offense and defense are permitted).
- Special teams drills (e.g., kicking team vs. return team) are permitted, provided no live contact occurs.
- Team offense vs. team defense drills, including 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills, are permitted, provided no live contact occurs.
- Clubs may require players to wear helmets; no shells are permitted during Phase 3 of the Club's offseason workout program or any minicamp.
Nothing is mandatory until the June 9-11 minicamp, which likely means we will not see Alex Boone in attendance. He has indicated he will sit out voluntary work, but be in camp for mandatory activities.
The start of OTAs also marks new media obligations for the team. There was no media during the rookie minicamp and for much of the first two phases of the offseason program. The start of OTAs means the 49ers have to have one day each week open to the media. The team will have one practice each week fully open to the media, and then will have some form of media availability. This will give us a chance to get a better handle on the depth chart, and what it all means heading into training camp.
Once the 49ers get through their OTAs and minicamp, things quiet down for about six weeks. Training camp gets started at the end of July, with the first preseason game scheduled for August 15 against the Houston Texans. Ideally, that time before training camp will be pretty dull. Too much stupid stuff has happened the last few years, so I just hope for peace and quiet until training camp starts.