49ers veterans praise Kelly's player-friendly approach


SANTA CLARA – New 49ers coach Chip Kelly received praise from some veterans for constructing a training camp schedule that meets the approval of the players.

During his three-year reign with the Philadelphia Eagles, about the only words that were not used to describe Kelly were "player friendly." The complaints about his approach were numerous, including this week from Eagles tackle Jason Peters, who said Kelly’s up-tempo practices wore down the players.

“I’m sure he’s made a few tweaks and doesn’t want to have the same comments at the end of this year,” 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “We’re players. We have to go out there and do whatever the coaches ask us to do and it’s his job to know his team and to watch his team and make sure they are ready on Sundays to play the game. I think he’s done that and learned from his mistakes, if there were some, and I’m looking forward to it.”

The biggest adjustment to the 49ers' practice schedule is the time of day and duration of the workouts. The 49ers’ daily on-field sessions are scheduled to begin at 10:25 a.m. Although NFL teams are permitted three hours of on-field work, Kelly’s practices are scheduled to be either two hours, 90 minutes or 60 minutes -- with lighter days following the more grueling workouts.

The 49ers' first practice of training camp is Sunday morning at the team's training facility in Santa Clara near Levi's Stadium. The first padded practice is scheduled for Tuesday with the first day off slated for Wednesday.

Former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh regularly had three-hour practices of which players often privately complained. Last year under Jim Tomsula, the practices were shorter but the tempo was increased. The pace of practice will be frenetic under Kelly. If the offseason program was any indication, the 49ers could often take only approximately 20 seconds between plays.

“We’re not going to maximize the time each and every time because with that tempo you will be worn out, so you know he’s strategic in the way he does it,” 49ers receiver Torrey Smith said. “The biggest thing for us is to trust the process.”

The schedule “might be the best since I’ve been in the league,” 49ers safety Antoine Bethea said. “Just his approach of tough days and toning it down a couple of days.”

Smith echoed Bethea’s “best schedule” comment. Smith enters his sixth season, the first four of which were with the Baltimore Ravens.

“(John) Harbaugh, in Baltimore, you get it in and you work your tails off so a lot of guys were used to the Harbaugh here as well,” Smith said. “Last year, coach Tomsula, we worked our tails off and the biggest difference is going to be with this tempo.

“But me, just glancing at the schedule? It’s going to be the best camp schedule that I’ve ever been a part of. I mean we actually get to see daylight when we get out, so that’s going to be another cool thing.”

One of the reasons for the 49ers’ early practice schedule could be the number of 10 a.m. starts this season, Bethea suggested. The 49ers have four road games – Carolina, Buffalo, Miami and Chicago -- with the early kickoff time.

Smith said if issues with the players develop in training camp or during the season, Kelly will be receptive to making adjustments.

“He's a guy we can talk to about it," Smith said. "It's not like he's been a brick wall or someone we feel we can't talk to about issues. He's been very open to us. He's a big communications guy. We've been able to have a lot of open dialogue with him, specially the older guys."

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