One of the issues raised by the lockout has been the conditioning of players who, in a normal offseason, would be three months into a team-run strength and conditioning program. That is, without team supervision, would players balloon during the offseason and fall out of shape?
Judging from the group of 49ers who have been practicing at San Jose State this week, the answer is an emphatic no. Each of the four veteran offensive linemen in attendance this week actually has lost weight during the offseason. That's including Adam Snyder, who was listed at 325 pounds in last year's media guide but who says he's about 298 pounds today.
When's the last time he was sub-300 pounds? His sophomore - possibly his freshman - year of college. Snyder said the only thing he's doing differently this year is monitoring his diet more effectively. "Just portion control," he said. "Big guys usually eat until they're full. I guess I just stopped doing that - protein shakes, that kind of stuff."
Snyder has company. Joe Staley (listed at 315 pounds) said that when he entered the league in 2007, his goal was to pack on as much weight as possible. Now he's back to weighing a little more than 300 pounds, which he says allows him to maintain his quickness. He says he's stronger than he's ever been.
Anthony Davis (listed at 323), meanwhile, struggled to keep up with his cohorts at this time last year. That's not a problem this year. He said he hired a personal strength coach this offseason and has been packing on muscle while dropping weight. Snyder said that Mike Iupati (listed at 331) also has lost weight this offseason.
One possible explanation, Snyder said, is the company they keep. In a normal offseason, the offensive linemen would work out amongst themselves. This year, they're mixing with players at different positions.
"It's more of a competition," he said. "We're working out with guys like Justin (Smith) and d-line guys. And I see them work hard, so that makes me work hard. Patrick Willis was out here for a couple of weeks. Watching those guys work out, it pushes you a little harder. That might be part of it."
Odds & Ends
â€¢ Snyder said he's been the de facto center all offseason and has spent a lot of time snapping the ball to Alex Smith. The 49ers, of course, are light on centers at the moment. 2011 starter Davis Baas and Tony Wragge are unrestricted free agents. Eric Heitmann is rehabilitating a neck injury at Stanford, his alma mater. Two other possibilities, Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person, are rookies who didn't play the position in college.
Said Snyder: "That's something that I'm doing as a precaution for not having a center on the team. I mean, I've been snapping with Alex all offseason. Just because of the uncertainty of all the other guys, I'd like to have that in my back pocket if I can do it. I mean, I've worked all the other (offensive line) positions. I might as well work at it in the time that we have now when we're not really doing anything."
â€¢ Day 3 of "Crabtree Watch" was like Day 2. The receiver arrived for the hour-long classroom session but did not stay for the practice. Fellow receiver Josh Morgan said Tuesday that Crabtree's feet were sore after wearing new cleats on Monday. Tight end Delanie Walker also did not take part in Wednesday's session.
â€¢ With Frank Gore (hip) absent, second-year player Anthony Dixon is the veteran at tailback in the ongoing practices. (Rookie Kendall Hunter is the only other RB on hand). Dixon said the running backs' duties have mostly involved pass catching and pass protection so far in the sessions and that Alex Smith has been his de facto coach. Dixon said he planned to join the offensive line for some run-specific assignments tomorrow.
â€¢ Said Dixon when asked about Crabtree: "Michael Crabtree? I know some things about Crabtree. We don't hang out a lot. But as far as working, Crabtree has amazing talent, man. He runs some of the prettiest routes I've ever seen -- so fluid with it, in and out of his breaks. I think he has big-time potential. I don't have anything but good things to say about Crabtree. I don't really know him that good, but I see him work and I admire his work. I'm a fan of his work."
-- Matt Barrows