49ers Blog and Q&A

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May 11, 2012
Huffing & puffing: Harbaugh wonders why rookies aren't in better shape


Maybe it was partly due to contrast. For the last month, after all, Jim Harbaugh has been watching his uber-fit veterans train and practice in Santa Clara. He called that group "fanatical" when it came to staying in shape. On Friday, there was a new crop of players - most of them rookies - on hand, and the difference in stamina was stark.

"Guys were a little out of shape, but we'll get them going," said Harbaugh. Asked specifically how first-round pick A.J. Jenkins looked, Harbaugh said the whole "group of receivers looked good today. Out of shape - that's the bad news. The good news is that it's a very talented group of those young receivers. You can tell that right away.

"The bad news is we've got to get them in shape. I don't know exactly what all these guys were doing for the last six months."

Jenkins was observed doubled over from about the midpoint of the hour-and-a-half session onward. Afterward he was in the locker room with bags of ice on both his hamstrings and quadriceps. "I'm back home (in Jacksonville) and thinking I'm in shape -- working out in the morning time," Jenkins said. "You definitely see (this) is a totally different ball game, so you've got to get your mind right."

Jenkins, of course, has been challenged by Jerry Rice to train on the hill that Rice made famous during his playing days. If he can conquer that run, on-field stamina should not be an issue. Jenkins said he's more eager than ever to work with Rice.

One of the players who seem unaffected by the grueling first practice was Stanford receiver Chris Owusu, who said the session was very similar to the ones he experienced under Harbaugh and that he came in prepared.

"I played with coach Harbaugh for three years," he said. "I know what he expects from his players. I know his mentality, I know his philosophy. And part of it is, you can't be competitive if you're not in shape. I wanted to come in here and be in shape."

Owusu stood out in the practice, the first of five over the next three days. In fact, during a figure-eight drill - players weave around two big hoops - he beat out Jenkins twice in a head-to-head race. Both races, however, were very tight.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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