Four members of the San Francisco 49ers defensive line have been in Oahu for much of the offseason working with Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennett. Bennett, who is a part owner of Hawaii Optimum Performance, offered players not only an opportunity for high level conditioning but to hone their techniques with one-on-one work with the veteran. Hawaiian native DeForest Buckner and Oregon teammate Arik Armstead spent five days with Bennett last offseason and were so impressed that they decided to make it a three week stay this offseason. They brought their teammates Eli Harold and Ronald Blair along for the experience.
Bennett of course also worked with his Seattle teammates, of which there were about 10 in attendance including Earl Thomas. Throughtout the entire session he treated everyone as if they were all one team. While taking time to train himself, he coached all of the players through footwork and agility drills. His focus on handwork and leverage was even more specific.
I spoke to all four of the 49ers attendees and they all expressed how valuable the work with Bennett has been for their preparation for the season. Sessions have been five days a week for approximately three hours a day and I can tell you from watching, that the humidity and heat played their part as well, inside the enclosed gym.
Bennett has not only been an example for the 49ers in the gym. He held a free camp for families in the area and all four 49ers participated as coaches. 1,000 people of all ages participated in the activities during the camp including events where entire families were involved. Needless to say, they were all impressed while having a great time.
There’s no guarantee that this offseason work will vasty improve the play of the defensive line but it definitely can’t hurt. If nothing else, these four members will be in great cardio vascular shape at training camp. Bennett’s technique however, has served him well. He’s been very productive as a pass rusher as well as having a high run-stop percentage. He’s versatile, lined up at defensive end in base defense and inside the tackles in nickel. 49ers defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina is looking for versatility and positional cross training and I think that’s what he is going to get.
Final note: Of course we also notice that he supports former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Know Your Rights organization.