Tuesday was the first padded practice for the San Francisco 49ers, and starting inside linebacker NaVarro Bowman was nowhere to be seen on the field.
Turns out he was in the weight room working out after Head Coach Jim Tomsula gave him a veteran day off. It coincides with his plan to rest his veterans in camp so they won’t be gassed headed into the regular season.
Also in the rotation for days off, Joe Staley didn’t practice Monday, but suited up and fully participated Tuesday. Running back Reggie Bush also has been given veteran days throughout training camp, participating only in individual drills during the beginning of practice.
Tomsula compares Bush to former 49er Justin Smith when it comes to rest:
“Bush you can kind of put in the category with me, I had with the defensive lineman here that you didn’t see practice a whole lot and then he played pretty well in football games. So you can go ahead and put him in that category.”
Bowman is cleared for practice and is ready for full contact, but Tomsula will limit his participation throughout. He wants his players ready for game day and said he knows what they can do without watching them in practice:
“Bo will be full go, I mean, there’s going to be limit, I want to reserve there. I don’t want to mislead anybody. I am going to reserve the right to be able to limit, monitor, and change up with Bo, with those guys. And quite frankly, I just see that as my job is to get a guy everything he needs to get so that he can perform at the highest level on game day.”
34-year-old defensive lineman Darnell Dockett appreciates the opportunities for rest and takes it as a sign of respect. Having been through the gauntlet with past coaches, Dockett feels Tomsula does a great job of putting his players needs first:
“He’s just one of those guys that wants us all our readiness come September and I respect that about a guy. You don’t win games the first week of training camp, nor the second week. So guys that have been with you a long time and are proven, you want to keep those guys ready for the first game of the season. The main thing is to be ready for the first game of the season.”
Dockett uses his experience to give younger players an idea of how appreciative they should be to be in an organization that cares about them. He also joked that they wouldn’t be able to make it under the conditions he experienced when he first came into the league:
“I’ve played with Dennis Green, so that speaks for itself. There were times with him where I felt like I didn’t want to play football no more. I’m able to tell these players how much the game has changed and we should be appreciative. When I first came into the league in everything was pads, pads, pads they didn’t care about you, you were very disposable. They actually care about players now. The game has changed. I tell a lot of guys that they couldn’t play when I came into the league. I’m always picking at them, but right now I’m fine with the situation to be with an organization that cares about its players.”