The San Francisco 49ers are seeing significant roster turnover this season, and that has meant a lot of younger players getting opportunities. The younger the team gets, the more they are dealing with a new generation of player that has grown up in the digital age. That demographic often learns and works in a different manner, and the 49ers have had to adjust.
Wall Street Journal NFL columnist Kevin Clark put together a fantastic article that looks at how the 49ers have "chang[ed] how they operate to cater to the smartphone generation." The article goes into detail about ways the 49ers are catering their daily process for this new generation of football player. It talks about cutting meetings down to 30 minute blocks, further use of tablets for practice tape, game film and playbooks to tablets, and plenty more.
The information about tablets is not new, as the 49ers have been doing this kind of thing for a couple years now. The information about cutting meetings down to 30 minute blocks is rather interesting. According to Clark, the 49ers worked with Stanford researchers, ad executives and others to figure out how younger minds work. There is a lot of talk about the shorter attention span, and so things like shorter blocks for meetings seem quite useful:
[T]he 49ers turned the typical meeting, which on some teams can go for as long as two hours, into 30-minute blocks, each followed by 10-minute breaks that allow players to do what young people do. That is, as Tomsula puts it, to "go grab your phone, do your multitasking and get your fix" before returning the meeting.
This might not have a huge effect on what we see on Sundays this fall, but I like the idea of trying to create more efficiency for the team. This is not the first time the 49ers have worked with outsiders to improve what they do. Their proximity to Stanford has afforded them numerous opportunities to improve their health and wellness programs. Their proximity to Silicon Valley has provided opportunities for the scouting department to move their content online, rather than strictly on paper.
This is just another example of how the 49ers can take advantage of their surroundings. Every team can figure out ways to access the best and brightest minds, but the 49ers have a sort of home-field advantage when it comes to this kind of thing.
Give the article a read, it's a good one.