It's Saturday, which means the San Francisco 49ers will officially get training camp underway. Rookies, quarterbacks and injured players have been in Santa Clara for a few days now, and veterans reported to the scene on Friday. The first practice proper takes place on Saturday and as you all already know, I'm all proper set to panic and overreact to the first play on the field.
On Friday, head coach Jim Tomsula met with the media and talked about a number of topics. Obviously, the biggest topic discussed was the offensive line and the changes the team is going through. Tomsula confirmed that guard Alex Boone will play on the left side this season, not the right, meaning there are now position battles at center, right guard and offensive tackle.
Needless to say I hope Trenton Brown, Marcus Martin and Joe Looney come out with those starting jobs (given Daniel Kilgore's injury) but that's probably just wishful thinking. Tomsula also talked about the inside linebackers and who will see the field opposite NaVorro Bowman when Michael Wilhoite is out with an injury. He also noted that he'd rather just give out injury information provided he doesn't put the team at a competitive disadvantage to do so, which is nice.
Anyway, here's the full transcript from Tomsula's press conference on Friday:
"First, thanks everybody, thanks for being here and I'm excited to talk about football. We can talk about the field and on-the-field and all that stuff, so I'm excited to get going that way. First thing I'm going to do is give you this injury. Just so we're all on the same page. This is everything we have. We've got everybody here. [LB] Michael Wilhoite, we've got a muscle strain. It's in his leg. I don't think it's going to be too long, but we did put him on the NFI. We're not going to rush him back, but we're going to make sure we get that taken care of. We don't want that lingering. The other guy, [LB] Nick Bellore is sick, so he's seeing the doctor for the illness and we'll keep you updated on that, but he's sick. Medical staff is on everything there. [G/C Daniel] Kilgore, Daniel, the docs and [vice president of football operations Jeff Ferguson] Fergy weren't happy there right at the end of mini-camp where the healing was. They did the recheck before the summer and they went in and they did something. Not a big deal. It was a quick surgery. It was something and we feel real good about that. That's day-to-day, let's see where that is. So, he's starting on PUP. But, with Daniel, and again we expected Daniel through everything, we were expecting sometime towards the middle of training camp. That's pushed back, but I don't know how far back. Nobody's got us, we're not in a concern for him long-term, season-ending, none of that stuff. But, I don't want to speculate on where that is, but we're getting him, real happy where that is now. So, he is healing now and he's healing well. That's where we are with that. That's it. That's all we've got. We just did, we were just outside, part of the physical is obviously the conditioning and all of that kind of stuff. I was extremely happy with what we just saw. The only fat guy on the field today was me. So, that was really exciting to see. You could just see an energy and a bounce and guys excited about doing it. And we're a little different with the way we do that too. We're not looking to come out and sprint 52 times and put guys in a dangerous spot. What we're trying to do is mimic all the movements that they would do. Our strength staff did a heck-of-a job, mimic all the movements that they're going to do once we get into a practice. So, they're bending, they're redirecting, they're doing all that stuff in a controlled way. I really felt great with everything we saw there. So, I think I've got everybody up-to-date on all of that."
With Kilgore on PUP, does that put C Marcus Martin in the starting rotation at center or will you go with G Joe Looney at that spot?
"They're both going to be in there. You'll see them both in there. One of the key things with Marcus Martin is, we're sorting out in there, there's no mistake. That center/guard spot we're sorting out. There's no mistake, nothing to hide. Feel real good about what's there to sort it out. But, with Marcus Martin, just his athletic ability and the length that he has and his limbs and all that kind of stuff, do like him getting work at guard. If he was the starting center, he'd still get some work at guard because he may have ended up being the next guard if we had a problem. So, those guys are going to dual-train at those spots."
Have you decided on a spot to put G/T Alex Boone?
"Yeah, he's at left guard. He's at left guard, yes."
And the reason for that--?
"Again, you get to game day and we're talking about how many offensive lineman you have up. So, how can we create some depth there. When you start talking about playing that tackle spot, you've seen him do that for us on the field before. But, now when he's playing the right guard the stance is the opposite. So, when we put him at the left guard, we've got that stance just so at least he's working out of that stance. That's quite simply and honestly, that's whole answer."
You've got a lot of young inside linebackers, a lot of potential I guess there.
"Real excited about that."
Who comes up and would play next to LB NaVorro Bowman while Wilhoite is coming back from his minor strain?
"You're going to see all of those guys. [LB] Nick Moody is obviously going to get some work there. But, you're going to see the guys in there. We're looking at that position hard. Excited about who's here, excited about what's going on there. Both those guys obviously. Bellore was getting some work in there, so we've got that going on so he's not part of that right now either. But, Nick Moody and [LB Philip] Wheeler really come to mind on that one. [LB] Shayne Skov too. You guys have seen Shayne. Obviously, Shayne coming out of college and then last year still working through it and he's been running around really well. But, we're sensitive to that position too now. We don't want to blow anybody out."
Is Alex going to be working with the first team? Is he a candidate to start at left guard or are you just getting him reps there?
"No, he's starting at left guard right now. We don't have a depth chart, so I don't want to get into who's starting and who's this and who's that. You come out to the first practice and we go line up, Alex Boone is going to be at left guard."
The schedule that you created for training camp with a little later times in the day, a couple of guys referenced today that they've come to you with some back and forth conversation of what might work. Could you go into that a little bit and how that back and forth went with the players to figure out the schedule?
"The biggest thing with the schedule, first of all the schedule and moving it back I will apologize to the media. [Vice president of communications] Bob [Lange] brought it to my attention on traffic hours. Honestly I didn't think of that, I didn't. Not that it would've changed it. But I do want to apologize to you. But, what we're trying to do is the meeting times in the morning, you're up, you're fresh. So, we've got meeting times, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and we're meeting and we're doing our thing. Then, you've got a walk-through. Now, being able to have film and take greater advantage of that walk-thru, with the new CBA with the way we have to practice now. So, being able to utilize that walk-through and now come back off the field, have more meetings, come back, review that, have some substance to that tape and be able to look at that, make some adjustments and talk through some things. Something always comes up in a walk-thru, so now we're able to utilize that. So, making sure that we have that time on both sides and then we're trying to give them a nice block in the middle of the day there to be able to lift their weights. Instead of lifting after practice all the time, there'll still be time after practice to lift, but trying to get that up. We want to make sure that we keep the weight room and our strength and conditioning and our regeneration a major part of what we're doing every day. That's the whole thought process behind it. And we set that up that way and I went through the medical staff and I went through the strength and conditioning department to get that done. And I talked to the guys and we adjusted maybe a half-hour here and there and if we can do that why not. It's a workday, we've all got to work, so that's how that went."
Do you still have meetings late at night?
"Yes. We have meetings at night. We're starting in the morning a little bit, we're getting into the nitty-gritty a little quicker in the mornings. But, yeah we'll have meetings at night."
Getting back to the inside linebackers, one guy that wasn't talked about was Bowman. How is he doing and he checked out everything OK?
"Yeah. What I just saw there was, my gosh. He looked fantastic and then moving around he really looked good."
Is he going to be limited just kind of going through camp these first couple of weeks?
"I'd hate to use the word limited, but I will tell you there's a rep-count on him. I'm watching that. There's a rep-count on [T] Joe Staley. Yeah, there's going to be rep-counts on guys. Limited to me starts taking it into the medical field. It's not the medical field. Some of these guys, before they get tired, ‘Oh he's tired let's give him a day off,' how about let's not get him to tired. I'm talking about the older guys. We know what they can do. They've shown it, they're in shape, so we're just trying to be smart that way."
Will Bowman have a snap limit during the regular season?
"No. Right now? No. We're not thinking that way. We're just thinking, right now, let's get him everything he needs and then get him off the field."
DL Arik Armstead, is he behind a little bit because he missed the offseason program?
"I'll tell you what, I've been really encouraged with Arik. I really have. Everybody has. And again, these last couple of days we're running around in our underwear, but Arik is in great shape, workout-shape. What you miss is the eight-second explosions of a play. That's what hurt you that you miss. Mentally, he's doing a really good job. He's got everything picked up. So, I don't think that he's behind mentally. But, physically he's been working, he's in great shape. But football shape."
Is he going to be eased into training camp?
"Yeah, I mean, we'll keep an eye on him."
In terms of reps and watching him?
"My approach, you've seen how I do things. My approach is I'm looking to get everybody, we practice to get to games. I'm looking to get everybody everything they need in practice to get to where we need to be, not more."
From an outside perspective, Kilgore broke his ankle in October, the fact that he had to go back in last month would seem possibly concerning. Can you maybe just speak to that?
"I'm going to speak here on what I know. The fix on his ankle, that's all great. We don't have any issues with that. It came with the healing. Daniel, and some guys, they have old injuries and things like that. So, now you're talking blood flow, maybe you've got a little calcium in there. Again, I don't want to quote but if calcium or something gets in there and you don't get the blood flow for the healing. So, it was a matter of a cleanup in that way. It had nothing to do with the procedure, that was good, just getting it healed and getting all those bones back to where they need to be."
This is the start of your first training camp. Just your thoughts, are you at ease? Is your mind racing constantly? Are things where you want it to be that first day as you get ready to launch this?
"No. To be quite honest with you, about seven days before I flew back here, my mind was racing. That's why my wife told me to change the flight and get out of there. No, it's not and after this morning getting with the guys, no. I mean, an excitement? Yeah, I mean yes, there's a definite excitement to get back in here with them. But, then being in here this morning with them is very comforting for me."
First the rookies and some vets reported on Monday. What have you been able to do on the field and what have you seen on the field from the guys that have been out there prior to today's full squad reporting day?
"Obviously, with the rookies and all that kind of stuff, any of the team drills and things that we're doing is just to see how much was retained. It gives us a chance at what wasn't, identify it, and get them up to speed so when these guys get here, we're moving forward. That was the whole thing with the rookies. With some of the vets, they were guys that whether they finished the spring, whether they were practicing but we felt like they were working through something or guys that didn't finish the spring, we wanted them back. Quite simply that was, when you bring them all back today, if there's any rechecks or we've got to send them for an MRI or they want to do something down at Stanford or something like that, then they end up miss the meetings tomorrow morning because they've got to go get all that done, now they are tied up in that. Now we are behind the eight ball. So, anybody that we thought potentially we might want to get a relook at, we might want to just make sure we're in a good spot so we brought them in, we did that. If there's anything that had to be done, it's done through the week. Then we get them out on the field running around, make sure everything checks out so we can start today,tomorrow morning in a great spot."
WR Torrey Smith said that he's going to take a three week break from social media, but he said that, "Coach Tomsula would love it if we all threw away our phones." That was sort of his joke earlier, what does it mean?
"Here, I'm going to put this here so nobody sees it. I don't have phones."
These guys seem to get you, they understand you. What does that mean to you at this stage?
"It makes me happy. [AP reporter] Janie [McCauley], I can't fake it, but I think we have a lot of guys here that aren't faking it. So, roll up your sleeves, it's the day-to-day. Who shows up every day? If you show up every day with a smile or if you show up every day and you're an angry man, be an angry man every day. Just be that guy. Don't fake it. Be who you are and let's go."
We're not accustomed to such transparency with the injuries. Can you just discuss what's behind that as far as your thinking as far as being a little more straight forward?
"The only time I have a problem, and this is just me, my thoughts only. As long as I don't feel like it's putting us at a competitive disadvantage to disclose information, I'd rather just tell you exactly what it is. What, am I going to wait for you to show up tomorrow and look out and go, ‘Oh, you didn't tell me that.' I personally don't want to have those conversations. I want to tell you what it is, deal with the facts, here it is and we roll. I get it, we get into the season, we get into some sensitive times, you have to write thing that people want to read so you've got to ask the questions. Quite frankly, there will be times there where I'm not going to give you the answer. I've asked him if I can just say, ‘no comment.' He told me that was disrespectful to you. So, we will figure out what that term is, but I'll let you know, I'm not talking about it. Ask me in 64 ways, I'm not talking about it. I'd rather just be upfront. Right there, you're going to be at practice tomorrowand you're going to have three guys who aren't going to be on the field. There it is."