SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - On the final day of coach Mike Singletary's first training camp, he gave his players a rare break. No pads. Shells only. Short practice.
It was much appreciated.
"This is probably the toughest camp that I've had, simply because the workload, the consistency," linebacker Takeo Spikes said Monday. "Whatever's on paper, that's what you're going to do. That held throughout the entire time of our camp."
There was one day, he guesses just less than two weeks in, when Spikes thought Singletary was about to give the team a night off to go to the movies. Yeah, right. Not this no-nonsense, businessman of a coach.
What did the 49ers do instead?
"Just a humbling talk," Spikes said. "As soon as you think you're doing something right, he brings you back down to level and get ready to grind. ... You look back on it now and appreciate every minute of it."
Singletary was tough on his team from the start, insisting he had to "make sure there's not a false sense of security about where we are." The 49ers have endured a franchise-worst six straight losing seasons.
And Singletary is the man owner John York and his team president son, Jed, hope can turn the organization around at long last. Singletary had his players in full pads from the get-go for grueling two-a-day practices.
"It's gone very well," Singletary said. "I'm thankful that the guys responded well and did not complain. I think this week we'll go through it and guys will get their legs back. There's no doubt we had a hard training camp. So, going forward, I'm very excited at how things have turned out."
Singletary became interim head coach in late October to replace the fired Mike Nolan, then was given the reigns after a strong finish last season.
The 49ers have bought into Singletary's system and are eager to see how their tough training camp translates onto the field. San Francisco has won all three of its preseason games so far, but the performances have been inconsistent.
"At the end of the day it's more of what he's teaching," Spikes said. "It's more of his principles - his principles alone as far as holding everybody accountable. He don't believe in following by the old rule treat the quarterback a certain way and you can't holler at him too much because they're fragile. Nah. He treats everybody the same way. As a whole, we can't do nothing but respect it as players."
Running back Glen Coffee was among those ready to get some rest as the Niners prepare for their final exhibition game, Friday at San Diego. San Francisco opens the regular season Sept. 13 at Arizona.
"It's a nice little break," Coffee said. "It feels good to get our bodies right and ready for the season. Any time you work hard you're going to get results. I think that's what coach is trying to do. We've got to carry that over into the regular season."
The Niners had their share of injuries with the pads on, but are slowly getting healthy. They were going at it in Singletary's intense
"nutcracker" hitting drill during the opening workout back on Aug. 1.
Good stuff for HBO's program "Hard Knocks?"
"If HBO would have came here this year, the ratings would have been off the chain," Spikes said.
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