Quarterback Alex Smith said today that plans are in the work for a minicamp-style practice involving the 49ers offensive players. Smith wouldn't give an exact date on when it would start, but he said the session would begin "shortly" and that the 49ers could have a number of sessions throughout the summer depending on how long the lockout drags on. Here's the full transcript, courtesy of The Merc's Tim Kawakami.
The 49ers are learning new offensive and defensive playbooks, and Smith said the practices would focus on the most basic elements of that playbook. "Becoming familiar with the terminology, the formations, the motions, the concepts - things like that," he said. "So that whenever this (lockout) ends, you're not having to re-learn that."
Several teams have been holding similar sessions. The Patriots, for example, began a player-led minicamp today that attracted more than 40 players. A number of 49ers - roughly 15 or so - have been working out regularly at a South Bay location since the lockout began in March. Those sessions, however, mostly have involved weight-room training and staying in shape. The exception has been Smith and a small group of receivers -- the constants have been Kevin Jurovich and Josh Morgan -- who have worked on various aspects of the playbook together on a nearby practice field.
The upcoming camp promises to be more extensive.
Smith, who ironically is a free agent, will act as the de facto coach and essentially will run the minicamp. He said he didn't want to assemble the offensive players before now because he felt he wanted to master the playbook somewhat. "I didn't want guys to be here if it wasn't productive," Smith said. "I think there's a lot going around the league where it's a PR deal - 'Hey, we're working hard.' I don't know how efficient it is. I don't know how much guys are actually getting done. I wanted to have at least a good enough grasp of the offense so that when we did get together I could at least give these guys something and help them out."
He said the earliest practices will focus on basic elements such as calling plays, lining up correctly and snap counts. There also will be few, if any, offense-vs.-defense situations early on. "I've talked to the defensive guys - Justin (Smith) and Pat (Willis) - quite a bit," Smith said. "At this point, we're going to kind of keep it separate. They're on a different plan. They haven't had as much as the playbook as we've had."
In a normal offseason, the team would pay for the transportation and accommodations of young players and rookies. Smith said the 49ers veterans would share that responsibility for their upcoming camp. "Finding guys a place to stay, carpooling, picking them up, taking them home, getting them flights out - things like that," he said.
As far as veterans, Smith said that running back Frank Gore, who has recovered from last year's broken hip, plans to attend. He said he's also spoken on the phone with Michael Crabtree, one of the few receivers who has not spent time throwing with Smith this offseason. I asked why Crabtree hasn't been here to date.
"Great question," Smith said. "Asking the wrong guy, honestly."
-- Matt Barrows