How 49ers weigh reps vs. rest in regular-season finale against Rams

How 49ers weigh reps vs. rest in regular-season finale against Rams originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Practice? Yes, we are talking about practice.

NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson might have discounted the need for practice, but the 49ers are banking on their players being locked in until their first playoff game.

With the top seed in the NFC already clinched, several San Francisco players, including quarterback Brock Purdy, will not play a snap in Sunday’s Week 18 matchup with the Los Angeles Rams and will need to take advantage of the practice reps during the long layoff before the divisional round.

Run game coordinator Chris Foerster knows very well how extended time off can lead to rust with some players, even for All-Pros such as left tackle Trent Williams.

"Trent usually practices, let's use him for example,” Foerster said. “He usually practices on Thursdays and Fridays. Friday is more of a down tempo practice for us. Thursday's a full speed practice. Wednesdays he doesn't practice. He's with strength and conditioning.

“So, if you take that and say three weeks, this week, next week, the following week, that's three practices and no games. Is that enough work in 21 days to be ready to play at the highest level? It could be for Trent, or you might need to have a few more reps than that to be sure you're ready to play.”

Finding the balance between reps and rust obviously is a good problem to have with the final game of the season being inconsequential for the 49ers. But how the team treats the time between their last meaningful game and the postseason will impact how they come out of the gate in the divisional round.

“It's a balancing act,” Foerster said. “Trent would say to me, we're scrimmaging against the Raiders, and he's getting bull rushed a little bit. And I'm like, ‘Hey dude, you need to sit down a bit and anchor.' He goes, ‘I only got so many anchors left in this body, so I ain't going to waste them all in training camp against the Raiders. I'm going to save them for the season.’

"And I said, ‘Understood, big fella.’ And so he does the best he can, but it's right.”

If the All-Pro tackle does play Sunday against the Rams, it likely will not be for very long with Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the coaching staff wanting to ensure their star players' health in the playoffs. The 49ers will keep a close eye on the reps of all players in the regular-season finale.

“It's one of the reasons he's been able to play as long as he has, is not every rep is a full,” Foerster said. “He understands the big picture. And so, it's us talking to him, and that's my relationship with him, Kyle's relationship with him, we're able to say, hey, Trent, we think you need this.

"And I think as he's gotten older, he has appreciated that he needs to stay sharp. I always go back to other sports, Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson, all of them, they still shoot free throws. They don't stop shooting free throws because they're great players. They still shoot free throws. They still have to practice.”

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