The NFL lockout makes for some strange bedfellows, as players try to find ways to stay in football shape without team coaches, trainers, and facilities at their disposal. Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb is in his preferred residence of Phoenix, Arizona, throwing to various NFL players (mostly Arizona Cardinals) in a camp hosted by Cards receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is hosting his second annual "Jets West" camp for teammates in Mission Viejo, Calif., with high school coach/quarterback guru Bob Johnson and son/former NFL quarterback Rob. "Jets West" is a way for Sanchez to become even more of a leader of his team — he's putting all the drills together and organizing social events, as well.
But perhaps the most unusual training method this offseason was implemented by new San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, whose new team selected former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second round of the 2011 draft. Before he took the 49ers job, Harbaugh groomed Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who almost certainly would have been the first overall pick in the 2011 draft had he not elected to stay in school.
And since Harbaugh is prohibited from talking to, or coaching, Kaepernick until the current lockout is over, Kaepernick will have by far the youngest quarterback coach in pro football. The 23-year-old Kaepernick will learn the Harbaugh offense from the 21-year-old Luck, who is on track to get his degree in the spring of 2012, and will look even better to NFL talent evaluators than he did before when he finally does apply for the draft.
"I'm going to try and pick his brain as much as I can and try to get a jump-start into this offense, and pick up as much as I can from him," said Kaepernick, who received a call from Luck soon after he was drafted last Friday. And when Kaepernick moves from Reno to a place in Santa Clara, near the 49ers' headquarters, he'll be just a 15-minute drive from the kid he may soon call "Coach".
Multiple players got playbooks from Harbaugh during the recent and all-too-brief lockout stay, and all Harbaugh would say when asked if he would be "disappointed" if his veterans somehow got a copy of the playbook to his new rookie quarterback was that he wasn't "into hypotheticals."
Surely, it was said with a nod and a wink.
The 49ers' workouts have been confined to the weight room to date, according to the Sacramento Bee, but that will change soon as the players begin to organize their own brand of minicamps. To whatever degree Luck is able to participate, it would be a win/win — he would learn a bit about the speed of the NFL game, gain even more credibility as a player and person, and Harbaugh's new quarterback could learn from his "old" one.
We can only hope that the NCAA doesn't do something phenomenally stupid, like deciding to penalize Luck for fraternizing with "professionals" -- perhaps Pac-12 officials will be too distracted by their new 12-year, $3 billion deal to pay attention.
This is certainly just the latest in what will be a line of creative solutions to the problems created by the lockout. Stay tuned for more!