The San Francisco 49ers decision to fire Chip Kelly and hire Kyle Shanahan means that for the third straight offseason, they will get to start their offseason workout program early. Most teams get started in late April, but teams with a new coaching staff get to start a few weeks earlier.
Kyle Shanahan told the media on Wednesday that the 49ers will start their program on April 10. The 49ers technically could have started the program on April 3, but Shanahan decided to wait a week. All teams are only allowed nine total weeks, but teams with new coaches can spread it over 12 weeks instead of ten. Additionally, new coaches get a voluntary minicamp before the NFL Draft.
That minicamp is of some note because of how offseason program works. During the first two weeks of the program, it is strictly strength and conditioning work, and then physical rehabilitation for injured players. The early start and the minicamp means the coaches will get a chance to see some of the players on the field before the draft.
Shanahan was asked about having that extra time and the minicamp. He had this to say:
Yeah, we’ve got an extra week. We have the extra minicamp that we’re going to do a week before the draft. You go into phase one, you are not allowed to be on the field with the players but we do get an extra camp, which is always tough. I’ve been on a new staff, I think this is my third time, you always want to know where to put that extra minicamp, we always want to put it before the draft so it’s tough. You’d like to work with the guys on the field more before you do that but you also, it’s nice to know to where you can see your team before you have all these draft picks. You don’t want to go too hard on these guys but you definitely need to go out there and evaluate them and kind of have an idea of what you have before you start the draft.
They are not going to get any significantly concrete information about most of the players, but it is better than nothing. Getting a chance to see Jimmie Ward doing some safety work, or seeing how some of the linebackers do in the new-look defense is better than having no information heading into the draft. I doubt a strong Ward showing over a couple days makes them or less likely to draft Malik Hooker, but it’s another little bit of information to have at their disposal.
Shanahan addressed that when someone asked him how much minicamp will influence the draft:
I don’t think it does too much, I mean you don’t want to ride everything on two practices in a minicamp but you do want to have an idea of what your roster is besides what you see on paper and a lot of the guys you can study on tape, but a lot of the guys aren’t on tape. You know you have to go back to preseason games or there are other guys I do need to see in camp, our coaches need to see in camp. You don’t want to put everything on it but it all goes into the process and you definitely have an idea of your roster as you go through the draft especially as you go through the later rounds.