How 49ers' player-led practices could further separate them from pack


49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led an informal players-only training session at San Jose State earlier this week in which he and several of his top weapons were able to take what they learned in their team virtual classroom sessions and test it out on the field. Receivers Jalen Hurd, Kendrick Bourne and Brandon Aiyuk were present, and Jimmy G came away impressed with how they executed.

It wasn't the first training session of its kind that Garoppolo had led this offseason, and it won't be the last. He told The Athletic's Matt Barrows that he was organizing one with a larger contingent for next week, as he believes it's imperative the players are able to work out together prior to the start of training camp in late July.

"We’ve got to go about the summer the right way,” Garoppolo said. “We have the right guys for it. It sounds like guys have been working hard across the country. And we’re trying to bring it all together now and get these group sessions going."

Several members of the 49ers were proactive at the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, securing the machines and weights they would need to ensure they'd stay in football shape while sheltering in place. All-Pro tight end George Kittle might have been the best example, ultimately building a robust gym at his home in Nashville, Tenn.


A handful of 49ers players including Kittle, receiver Trent Taylor and quarterback C.J. Beathard happen to reside in the Nashville area, and Garoppolo said that a similar player-run training session likely would occur there. Jauan Jennings, whom the 49ers selected in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of the University of Tennessee, likely would be able to attend. Don't rule out Hurd, either, who also hails from the Volunteer State.

[RELATED: Jimmy G impressed by Hurd's fearlessness, vast potential]

Ultimately, one could argue the 49ers don't need the players-only training sessions as much as most other teams. They obviously were one of the best teams in the NFL last season, and only three other teams carry over more continuity into 2020 in terms of total snaps taken. San Francisco also retained its head coach, all four coordinators and 16 of 18 non-coordinator assistants, so while there certainly will be layers added to schemes, they won't be overhauled.

That said, the 49ers know their championship window currently is open. They came within minutes of winning Super Bowl LIV, but it will be a huge challenge to get back. The unprecedented offseason actually might give them a leg up, and clearly, they're trying to take advantage of it.

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