A year ago this week at San Jose State, around 20 or so 49ers players gathered at the school’s football field for some voluntary workouts. Led by quarterback Alex Smith, the event was called Camp Alex. The players would meet again two weeks later for another week-long workout.
Camp Alex ended up being the beginning of the transformation of the San Francisco 49ers.
I didn’t attend the first week but I was there for the second week of practices. It was nice returning to my alma mater and being part of something so unique.
I remember getting there and not too sure where to park. There was an open lot across the street but I wasn’t sure if that was open parking for anyone using the around facilities. I ended up parking around the block in the residential neighborhood.
And because there was no set schedule, I walked around the area at around 9AM looking for some signs of 49ers players. None. For about an hour or so, I just hung around and one by one, a few other writers showed up. We sat, talked and just waited. When players started filing in, we made our way to the field but were informed that we were allowed to only watch for some stretches. Then the rest of practice had to be sealed off from the media.
I got a chance to just hang out with some of the players, talk with a friend of Vernon Davis and just watch. It was nice.
Smith had donated money to the school and as part of the deal, asked that the team had some privacy during the workouts. But after the workouts the players talked and had their say. People like Anthony Dixon stayed around and told jokes. Most of the linemen were open to talking. Even Smith talked to the media.
Overall the experience from the media perspective was nice. It was a little different and there was more freedom to things.
The second day was pretty much the same except when Matt Barrows and I tried to intercept Michael Crabtree walking into the facility, trying to get him to reveal about his foot injury. He said nothing.
But still, to me, it was a real fun time. It was different. It wasn’t planned. It was just something to keep me going during the lockout. Players bonded and as a result, the 49ers are now a really good team.
I can’t believe it’s been a year since then. It was good times and I’ll remember it forever.