SANTA CLARA – Mike Singletary was so happy with the way his team has been working that he ripped an entire day from the work calendar. The 49ers coach canceled today's two practices – they were supposed to make up the third day of a three-day minicamp – effectively ending the team's offseason activity.
Next stop: training camp, Aug. 2.
"I knew very early on that the last date of this, we were not going to do it, simply because of the guys that have been here, the guys that have worked their tails off," Singletary explained between two Friday practices. "The coaches have done what I've asked them to do. We planned this a while ago."
When Singletary gathered his players at midfield after the first session and gave them the news, immediate reaction was muted. Perhaps because word of the reward had already leaked, and perhaps because the players were afraid the coach would change his mind.
"It was kind of silent out there, but I think in the back of everybody's head was a little &‘Yesss,'" tackle Anthony Davis said. "Everybody played it cool."
Inside the locker room shortly after, the mood was fairly festive.
"I'm excited," linebacker Ahmad Brooks said. "Gives us a day off. That's cool. I'll be going home, relaxing for a few days, then getting back to work, getting ready for training camp. Because once training camp comes around, it's gonna be full throttle out there."
To hear some tell it, the throttle has been opened pretty wide for some time here.
With a few notable exceptions – especially nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, the only player to skip the minicamp – participation has been strong in the 49ers' voluntary program, including three days of organized team activities that preceded the minicamp.
Rookies have been showing up at 6:30 a.m. almost daily to run with strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle. And tackle Joe Staley said there has been 100-percent attendance for hour-a-day offensive line work since early March, a regimen that has included lifting, meetings, film review and basic on-field work.
"I'm not looking at it like it's gonna be missed work, because we've definitely been working," Staley said of the day off. "We can go home and see our families a day earlier. Guys' bodies are pretty tired."
Singletary, meanwhile, is headed to Illinois. He will handle the weekend services at Willowcreek Community Church in South Barrington, his former church during his playing days with the Chicago Bears.
The 49ers released CB Keith Smith and waived LB Brandon Long. Smith played three games with the team last year and was re-signed in February. Long last played at Michigan State in 2008.
WR Brandon Jones (ankle) and T Matt Kopa (foot) were the only players unable to practice Friday. DL Kentwan Balmer (shoulder) got some work in team period, but CB Will James (pubic bone) was limited to individual.
Singletary confirmed that his team will run the infamous nutcracker drill at training camp, though several players were injured in the exercise last year. "We came out of training camp as good or better than any other team in the National Football League," he argued.
For more on the 49ers, go to Instant 49ers at blog.pressdemocrat.com/49ers. You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org