Singletary tough, but 49ers lay off hitting

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The NFL's decision to punish the Baltimore Ravens for violating offseason workout rules seems like a positive development for players weary about increased workloads during what used to be the offseason.

This should serve as a wake-up call for other teams.

The San Francisco 49ers have been known to hold physical training camp practices since Mike Singletary took over as head coach. Some sessions have included "nutcracker" drills featuring players slamming into one another like demolition-derby cars.

I watched the 49ers practice in shorts Monday and thought the level of contact seemed reasonable and within NFL guidelines. This was clearly a teaching-oriented session. I noticed offensive line coach Mike Solari talking players through their assignments, for example.

Singletary worked players hard -- they ran at the end of practice, too -- but the team also seemed to practice intelligently. The 49ers seemed more physical during organized team activities last offseason, which might have been natural with Singletary attempting to establish a hard-nosed mentality.

The NFL canceled the Ravens' workouts scheduled for June 14-18 after determining the team violated rules governing the "intensity and tempo" of recent sessions and how much time players were spending at the facility. The collective bargaining agreement says voluntary sessions should be geared toward learning, with player safety as the top priority.

The CBA also spells out rules as such:

  • No pads except protective knee or elbow pads. Helmets are permitted.

  • No live contact; no live contact drills between offensive and defensive linemen.

  • 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills will be permitted, providing no live contact takes place.

  • The NFL will monitor all Clubs during the off-season to ensure player safety and adherence to live contact guidelines.

  • Maximum six hours per day, with a maximum two hours on field, for any player.

  • Contact work (e.g., "live" blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run) is expressly prohibited in all off-season workouts.

Those bullet points are taken verbatim from the CBA.