We take a look at various aspects of the 49ers football program during each of The Final 49 weeks until Kickoff 2013.


The Final 49: A Memorable Last

By Tom Whitestone


This is the final week of the 49ers 2012 fall football practice season.  Much is made of all the 49ers football firsts.  But this last is something to consider.

Last fall at this time, a stadium was under construction.  A coaching staff was knee deep in recruiting. And most of the players running around the practice field were living for Friday nights.

Next year, the 49ers will be well into their first season of competition in their beautiful stadium.  The coaching staff will be knee deep in game plans.  And the players running around the field will wake up on Saturdays anxious and eager.

And this fall?  The 49ers have practiced with the hum and rattle of ever-present construction vehicles.  The coaches have been knee deep in practice plans and drills.  And, the players aren't working for today -- but for tomorrow.

There is just one week left of this abnormal situation.  The 49ers plan to celebrate it with a Fall Finale -- inviting the public out to watch the last practice, offering an open house of the football center to FSL owners and giving fans an opportunity to see up close what this team has done in a few short months.

Three months ago, the 49ers football team was reporting to campus for the very first time.  It wasn't so much a team as it was a collection of student-athletes.

From the conditioning of late August to the start of real practices in mid-September to the addition of scrimmages in October the team came together -- practice by practice.

This week, they'll hold the last -- the final workout that is unique to them and foreign to teams across the country. 

Practice with a purpose, coaches often say --  easier said than done when the next game is nearly a year away.

Practice like you play, they say -- hard to do when you haven't played in nearly a year.

Practice is where games are won, they encourage -- harder to grasp without a win in sight to back it up.

In the spring, the 49ers football team will be just like every other around the country.

They will hold their spring workouts.  They will have an eye on their spring game.  And they will not be able to wait for the coming fall.

But this fall -- this wonderfully, unusual fall -- the benefits of all those practices have gone largely unnoticed.

Except to the players and coaches.  They know what has happened. They know that the practices were as productive, as challenging, as competitive as if opening day waited right around the corner.

This week, as they close camp, Niner Nation will be given an opportunity to appreciate all the work, as well.

We have celebrated so many firsts throughout this start-up process -- but this will be a memorable last.

And when you think about it, the firsts set us on our march -- but its the lasts get us that much closer to the inaugural game.