As a player, "Samurai Mike" Singletary practiced his guts out and played like a man possessed on Sundays. As a coach, Mike Singletary will demand that his players do the same.
Coach Singletary's first training camp will be a rigorous marathon of two-a-days in full pads, every day from Saturday until the 49ers' preseason opener Aug. 14 at Candlestick Park against the Broncos.
Generally, NFL teams have two-a-day practices on most, but not all of training camp. Pads are typically not worn for every practice.
"That's tough, man, teeheehoo," 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes told the AP. "What I expect from Coach Singletary is we're going to hit the ground running."
"I expect it to be physical and intense with a lot of competition," left tackle Joe Staley also told the AP. "If you know Singletary, he's known for his intensity." That's an understatement, Joe Staley.
Coach Singletary's main strengths are teaching and motivation, and training camp is when these qualities are on display. Before they begin their litany of two-a-days in full pads, Singletary kept the team in the classroom the entire all day Friday. “When we hit the field, we are going to be ready to go,” Singletary told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. “I like things to be spelled out very clearly and I want to make sure that the players understand their roles. I want to make sure the coaches understand their roles. Our practices are going to be challenging.”
There's an injury risk to a full camp of two-a-days in pads, to be sure. But if you're worried about injuries, watch this YouTube video on Niners Nation and re-live some painful, repressed memories of how soft and unfocused this team was under Mike Nolan. It's a hysterical video mashup of awful 49er mishaps under Nolan, and probably the funniest YouTube NFL mashup since the "Hitler upset over the Cowboys losing to the Giants" video from early 2008.
And if Singletary's intense training camp can toughen and focus these 49ers into a playoff team, there could be lots more fans of NFC teams screaming angrily in their basements come January.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer and also a huge fan of the "Hitler upset to discover that he's a running joke on YouTube" version of that video.