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First Practice For The 49ers

While there were no helmets or pads, there was a lot of running.

About 85 football players, all decked out in their squeaky clean t-shirts, shorts, and cleats ran full field sprints.  For the next three weeks, they’ll be doing these daily conditioning drills and learning their position techniques.

The first game is not until August 31st, 2013, over a year away. Because of that, head coach Brad Lambert says one of his biggest challenges is to keep it these practices creative.  

“I think that’s the thing we’ve got to do is just be creative with our practice schedules,” says Lambert. “When we get the stadium we’ll get to go in there. We’ll go practice somewhere else. We’ve got to be creative with what we do with the team, so that it doesn’t become mundane for them.”

That stadium that Lambert mentions is currently under construction. The beeps of large machinery are just as prevalent out here as the coaches’ whistles.

Five players are transfers from two-year or four-year programs. But for the majority of these guys, this is their very first college football experience. That includes freshman Mason Sledge. He’s from Monroe and he’s here on scholarship. And overall, he appreciates having the extra time.

“It kills me a little bit,” says Sledge. “I’m ready to play. But on the other hand, I’m only 17 so I needed this. That’s the reason I chose this. I needed the extra year to get ready, so I’m loving the extra year to get bigger and faster and stronger.”

The team has a long way to go. The sprints have most of them winded and bent over forward with hands on their knees catching their breath. A few guys stepped off the field and stuffed ice packs down their shirts to avoid overheating. There was even one player who threw up.

But one thing is certain: the team huddle is coming together.