The San Francisco 49ers' presence was politely requested at this week's off-season team activities and workouts, voluntary affairs featuring a maximum of only two hours of on-field practice each day.
But when the clock strikes 4 p.m. Thursday, it gets mandatory. The 49ers break camp Thursday afternoon for a weekend of mandatory team practices, without time limits, and fines handed out to any fool who dares skip them.
Everyone's there, except for nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. The Niners have slapped the franchise tag on Franklin, meaning he can only be traded for two first-round picks and he is automatically offered a one-year contract at a top-five salary for his position.
In the case of Franklin's position, that's $7 million one year for of nose tackling. Franklin prefers a longer deal. He can skip mini-camp without being fined, as he hasn't signed that one-year offer and is technically not under contract.
Coach Singletary is unfazed by his franchise player's absence. "I have heard that Aubrayo will not be here, which does not bother me one bit," Singletary told the Mercury News. Singletary was confident that Franklin was preparing himself and remaining in solid condition.
Props to Manny Lawson, who is also bellyaching for a new contract and was not expected to show. But Phil Barber of the Santa Rose Press Democrattweets that Lawson is indeed in the hizz and ready to get to work.
Manny Lawson's agent claims we're going to be "blown away" by Manny Lawson's physical condition.
Not coincidentally, this is the same agent who's trying to finagle Lawson a gigantic salary increase.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who blames his unexcused absence on an Arizona nookie-fest with Ally McBeal.