The San Francisco 49ers finished Phase One of the offseason program this past week with 100 percent player attendance. Phase One consists of the first two weeks of the new season with activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation. The only coaches allowed to work with the players on the field are members of the strength and conditioning staff. No live ball drills are allowed and players cannot wear helmets or pads. Position coaches and coordinators can work with players in the classroom but they are not even allowed to watch players on the field.
Here is the excerpt from the collective bargaining agreement or CBA:
Phase One. Phase One shall consist of the first two weeks of the Club’s offseason workout program. Subject to the additional rules set forth in Section 5 of this Article, Phase One activities shall be limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only. During Phase One, only full-time or part-time strength and conditioning coaches, who have no other coaching responsibilities with the Club, shall be allowed on the field; no other coaches shall be allowed on the field or to otherwise participate in or observe activities. No footballs shall be permitted to be used (only “dead ball” activities), except that quarterbacks may elect to throw to receivers provided they are not covered by any other player. Players cannot wear helmets during Phase One.
April 25-27 the 49ers will hold a voluntary veteran minicamp. They are allowed to have this additional three day camp because they are starting the season with a new head coach. This minicamp must be conducted prior to the NFL Draft, April 27-29, but no earlier than week three of the club’s offseason workout program and after at least one week of the two weeks of Phase One.
You’d think that a minicamp that happens in week three of the offseason would be the bridge or transition to Phase Two, but both mandatory and voluntary minicamps are much more than that. The three day minicamp camp, can consist of two a day practices on two of the three days. Players can be on the field up to 2.5 hours at a time per session with the total of both sessions limited to 3.5 hours a day. One hour of the 3.5 is limited to walk through instruction only. Players can be expected to participate for up to 10 hours each day, not counting meal periods.
During minicamp, players are wearing helmets but no pads. Offense vs. defense drills are allowed but no contact work or “live” blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run. Special teams can run drills with the kicking team vs. the return team but without contact.
Here’s the official verbiage from the CBA:
Voluntary Veteran Minicamp: Any voluntary minicamp for veteran players must be conducted prior to the College Draft, but no earlier than week three of the Club’s offseason workout program and after at least one week of the two weeks of Phase One activities that the Clubs may hold pursuant to Article 21. In the event the NFL elects to move the College Draft to a date that would require the Club to schedule its voluntary minicamp for veteran players during a week that is earlier than week three of the Club’s offseason workout program, the NFLPA and NFL shall agree to a change in such rule. Voluntary minicamps for veteran players shall be subject to the rules set forth in Section 2 above.
Phase two starts after the draft, on May 1st. It’s a step backwards from minicamp. Offense vs. defense is not allowed nor kicking team vs. receiving team in special teams drills. Helmets are not allowed. We will give a more detailed break down of Phase Two and Three next.