The San Francisco 49ers' 2010 season unofficially began Monday morning, with the very first set of off-season practices at team headquarters in Santa Clara.
It was not a banner day for attendance, particularly among the 49ers' top defensive players. On the scene in Santa Clara, David White of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted, "No shows include CB Nate Clements, LB Manny Lawson, NT Aubrayo Franklin, RB Michael Robinson, CB Shawntae Spencer."
There were actually more no-shows than White could describe in 140 characters or less. Patrick Willis and Ahmad Brooks weren't there either. Over half of the Niners' starters on defense weren't there.
They all had their reasons. Patrick Willis' is actually a valid reason. He had minor knee surgery two weeks ago, and is recovering.
Many of the rest were out for financial reasons. Franklin and Brooks are technically free agents right now, as they have yet to sign their contract offers. They don't want to risk an injury that might hurt their market value by participating in these, umm, non-contact drills.
Clements is the highest-paid guy on the defense, so that's pretty much his excuse.
Maybe nobody told Jed York, who was asked about Singletary's schedule on a conference call last week. He said, "Mike is concentrating on coaching."
Seven days later, Singletary isn't coaching because he's out of town with other responsibilities.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is one of the one-third of American workers who skips work with a bogus excuse at least once a year.