• Matt Barr

Building the Foundation: How the Strength and Conditioning Phase Can Pay Dividends in Keeping the 49

Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann

Listen to any radio advertisement or TV commercial and they will bombard you with lines about the COVID-19 being the “new normal.” Unfortunately, the NFL and San Francisco 49ers must exist completely within those rules. The team already cancelled their organized team activities (OTAs) and rookie minicamps earlier this summer. How will the 49ers play catch up to avoid injuries once the season rolls around?

Now that the players are starting to trickle in and take their COVID tests, the strength and conditioning staff, led by first-year head of S&C Dustin Perry, will have their first opportunities to get their hands on them. It will be vitally important for the staff to get the players back into game shape because the veterans will not have the safety net of preseason games to adjust before the scores start to count. Easing into the conditioning while still pushing the athletes to get better is going to be the name of the game. It is safe to assume that before any pads are put on, the 49ers will be doing plenty of running. It would not be surprising to hear that conditioning tests will be put together to ensure that they are ready to progress to the next step.

The 49ers are no strangers to preseason injuries lost during both practice and preseason games. In 2018, running back Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL and has yet to play a meaningful snap in San Francisco since signing a (recently re-worked) 4-year, $30M deal in free agency. Last year, promising wide receiver Jalen Hurd was lost to a fractured back forcing him to miss his entire rookie campaign. Once the hitting starts, the staff will have their hands full trying to ensure that no one goes too hard right out of the gate. Having any players go down with a major injury when practicing during August could be devastating to either side of the ball.

From the workout videos being posted by players like George Kittle and Kendrick Bourne, the 49ers are hungry to get back to the Super Bowl and over the hump this year. Those personal offseason workouts will be put to the test once every player has passed their two mandatory COVID tests. For a team returning such a high percentage of the snaps from 2019, having a multitude of injuries could derail an already awkward season. Head coach Kyle Shanahan, Dustin Perry and his staff will be incredibly important to the success of the San Francisco 49ers in 2020.

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