While his teammates were battling on the practicing field this offseason, Aubrayo Franklin was duking it out in a gym in Atlanta. Franklin, the 49ers starting nose tackle, stayed in shape with a steady boxing regimen designed to mimic an NFL session: a minute of hitting of speed bag followed by a 30-second rest and back at it again.
"An average game is like 64 plays," he said. "So I tried to do the same thing." The routine seems to have worked. Despite missing all of the team's offseason workouts and practices, Franklin reported today at 317 pounds, about the same weight at which he played last season.
In 2007 Franklin signed a three-year deal with the 49ers, which expired at the end of last season. Franklin had hoped to strike a long-term deal with the 49ers and finish his career in San Francisco. But the team instead made him its franchise player. That designation pays Franklin a one-year salary that's the average of the five highest-paid players at his position -- $7.003 million. Franklin signed that one-year deal earlier today.
Franklin said he didn't think the two sides got close to agreeing on a long-term deal this offseason. He will not play in today's game against Oakland but plans to rejoin his teammates in practice next week. The question now is whether he will play in Thursday's exhibition finale against San Diego. "Yeah, I want to play Thursday," Franklin said. "I just want to see where I'm at right now. It's different than just going out and practicing."
While Franklin has been in Atlanta, second-year player Ricky Jean Francois has taken nearly all of the practice repetitions at nose tackle. Franklin said he's been watching from afar and said Jean Francois has taken "giant steps." "Ricky - I think he did a great job," Franklin said. "I think Ricky improved his game from last year."
If you can't watch today's game live, you can follow via strong context clues on a live blog. It'll begin at 5:30 p.m. with a Q&A and turn into a live blog at kickoff ... www.sacbee.com/live.
-- Matt Barrows