The San Francisco 49ers convened in Santa Clara on Wednesday to report to training camp, but several players didn’t have to travel very far. According to Jimmy Garoppolo, a large contingency stayed nearby during the offseason to work out at the facility with strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright. This does happen, especially for players working their way back from injury but it seems like there were quite a few this offseason.
Part of the reason this happened is the culture that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have grown in the building. They have built a roster of players that trust each other and enjoy each others company off the field. DeForest Buckner noted the change in his first training camp media availability, “It was just cliques of guys.” Now there are bowling nights and dinners out. There is a level of trust and transparency between the players and the front office that was lacking in previous regimes and that all trickles down to the locker room.
This is also why the locker room didn’t fall apart in 2017, even after a 0-9 start to the season. With a new season comes new faces in the facility but the closeness remains. Richard Sherman is one of the new positive influencers in this movement. He has taken his position group out to meals and go-cart racing. His believes that if players trust each other off the field that it leads to trusting each other to do their jobs on the field as well. He has also had several conversations with Reuben Foster during the offseason, and don't believe for one second that their lockers being next to each other is a coincidence.
Joe Staley, while being a quiet leader, now has his “best friend in the whole world” to mentor in Mike McGlinchey. The pair is inseparable according to teammates and were even seen singing a karaoke duet during the offseason. Staley noted that while he couldn’t point to one reason why the locker room dynamics are so positive, he’s agrees with Buckner that he had previously seen cliques.
You don’t try to have that but I think sometimes naturally, that just takes place where certain position groups will only hang out with the guys they are in the rooms with. The locker room we have over there is very, very tight. It’s probably one of the closest locker rooms I’ve ever been a part of. That goes from last year, to now this offseason, into training camp. Everybody is hanging out with everybody there’s different position groups hanging out. Everybody seems to generally enjoy coming to work.
While their mood seems to have carried over from the team’s end of the season winning streak they are not resting on their laurels. They have their expectations in check and are moving forward knowing the challenge they have in front of them.
One of Shanahan’s favorite qualities he looks for in people/players is to “never be to high or too low.” While this seems like a simple concept you can see how not having this quality could cause serious detriment in a locker room. Case and point the New York Giants implosion half way through the 2017 season. Never say there will never be problems but this roster is made of “football guys” who seem to really like each others company and that's one of the most valuable qualities that both Shanahan and Lynch have brought to 4949 Marie P. DeBartolo Way.