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"Oklahoma" drills paying dividends?

This top-rated, 49er defense is being highly touted for its physicality. It harkens back to the 'Oklahoma' drills instituted into practices when Coach Singletary was at the helm. The 'Oklahoma' drill is a staple in high-school and college football practices, designed to best your opponent through brute strength (and proper technique). This drill is not as popular in the typical NFL practice, however, because 1) players in the pros should already know how to physically dominate their opponent and 2) the liability of having a star player being injured or even role players sustaining an injury that may prove detrimental to the depth chart come game day.

When I watch this 49er defense, it's reminiscent of the 2000 Ravens in the way they fly towards the ball and meet the ball carrier with the velocity that creates the type of bone-jarring collisions which ultimately leaves offenses in a physical and psychological state of defeat. The 49ers hit the opponent so hard and so often that opponents lose the will to win.

Could this be a remnant of Coach Singletary? We're all familiar with his gaffes in his tenure as 49er head coach, but did his NFL experience with the '85 Bears leave a legacy with our defense that is translating into their dominating play under Vic Fangio? I'm leaning towards 'probably.' Thoughts?
[ Edited by 21SandersMoss84 on Jun 24, 2012 at 9:45 AM ]
Not much of a response, but yeah sure... it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Singletary did bring SOMETHING useful to the players in terms of applying some things he picked up along his years on defense.

I actually liked Singletary as a player and as a coach in an assisting capacity. He simply was unprepared as a HC... stubborn.. didn't allow for much change in his philosophies when it was clear things weren't working for us. He also mentally folded under the pressure as things were coming down on top of him and he realized that his HC career was dissipating.
My main beef with him as HC was his inability to grasp the offensive nuances of the modern game. His experience with the '85 Bears gave him an inaccurate perspective of the importance of a fully functioning offense, the QB position in particular. But I do think he brought an element of toughness that is currently being displayed by the likes of Willis, Bowman, etc. It makes me wonder how much hitting Harbaugh and Fangio allow in practice.
  • ImaMod
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Didnt Singletary call it the Nut cracker? That drill was dumb. It also ruined Eric Heitmann's career

Heitmann's injury is another lasting legacy from Mike Singletary's infamous nutcracker drill. The exercise in which two players clashed into each other and tried to push the other one back, like a pair of mountain rams, resulted in a series of injuries. None more serious than Heitmann's; he felt a tweak in his neck after a nutcracker encounter in last summer's training camp.
http://blog.sfgate.com/49ers/2011/06/30/eric-heitmann-victim-of-the-nutcracker/

Our defense in 2011 was more physical (and a lot better) than our defenses before. I'd credit Fangio and the assistant coaches before I credit Signletary's lame drill that injured our players and ruined a starter's career.
[ Edited by ImaMod on Jun 24, 2012 at 8:14 AM ]
I disagree that Singletary brought fundamentals to the D, at least he did not do so by himself. One of the reasons I like Willis so much is that he has always tackled with absolutely beautiful form. He learned that in HS or college, not from Singletary. J Smith does as well, and having "stars" on your team that demonstrate how to be fundamentally sound tends to elevate everyone in this regard. Singletary no doubt brought considerable knowledge of the LB perspective but little from any other perspective.

Singletary was one of my favorite MLBs as he was too small to succeed but managed to overcome this moniker. In this I agree with Oldman9er and would have liked him to stay at LB coach. When they named him Assistant HC I was sickened because he had done nothing (hyperbole) in his career to prepare for the job of HC. They had to elevate him to HC when Nolan was fired or be accused of making a bad move in the original promotion to assistant HC. Just another example of dumb management.

I hope Singletary goes back and works his way back to being a HC. He may never get there but sometimes adversity leads to understanding and growth.

Lastly, Walsh proved that contact drills could be limited and still have the team succeed. He wanted practices to be task oriented, teaching the players to play fast and without hesitation. He had little use for drills that were not related to the actual game speed and skill building. The Oklahoma drill is a macho thing that really takes the players out of the context of team play and focuses them on a small area. Perhaps this is good for guys like Rachal who can use his brute strength, but we saw how useful that strength is when players wait for him to commit and fly through the open side...shoot, no blocking bags containing the play?
Originally posted by dtg_9er:
I disagree that Singletary brought fundamentals to the D, at least he did not do so by himself. One of the reasons I like Willis so much is that he has always tackled with absolutely beautiful form. He learned that in HS or college, not from Singletary. J Smith does as well, and having "stars" on your team that demonstrate how to be fundamentally sound tends to elevate everyone in this regard. Singletary no doubt brought considerable knowledge of the LB perspective but little from any other perspective.

Singletary was one of my favorite MLBs as he was too small to succeed but managed to overcome this moniker. In this I agree with Oldman9er and would have liked him to stay at LB coach. When they named him Assistant HC I was sickened because he had done nothing (hyperbole) in his career to prepare for the job of HC. They had to elevate him to HC when Nolan was fired or be accused of making a bad move in the original promotion to assistant HC. Just another example of dumb management.

I hope Singletary goes back and works his way back to being a HC. He may never get there but sometimes adversity leads to understanding and growth.

Lastly, Walsh proved that contact drills could be limited and still have the team succeed. He wanted practices to be task oriented, teaching the players to play fast and without hesitation. He had little use for drills that were not related to the actual game speed and skill building. The Oklahoma drill is a macho thing that really takes the players out of the context of team play and focuses them on a small area. Perhaps this is good for guys like Rachal who can use his brute strength, but we saw how useful that strength is when players wait for him to commit and fly through the open side...shoot, no blocking bags containing the play?

Prime example... Justin Smith attempt at blocking on 3rd and 1 in the NFCCG. Sometimes guys don't want to go head to head against the opponent. They just want to go around you to the runner. Doh!

I don't think that type of drill has any place in pro football. By the time they go through HS football and college football and into professional league facing the best of the best, if they don't know physical they shouldn't even be in TC. Waste of time, efforts, and injury prone drill is what I'm thinking.
Originally posted by qnnhan7:
Prime example... Justin Smith attempt at blocking on 3rd and 1 in the NFCCG. Sometimes guys don't want to go head to head against the opponent. They just want to go around you to the runner. Doh!

I don't think that type of drill has any place in pro football. By the time they go through HS football and college football and into professional league facing the best of the best, if they don't know physical they shouldn't even be in TC. Waste of time, efforts, and injury prone drill is what I'm thinking.

I agree. When you don't know what you have talent and aggression wise in the lower levels of football it only takes a few team reps through the "Okie" to easily cull out the men from boys. In the NFL all it does is add a few more opportunities to create injuries.
we were soft under Nolan; big nipple defense, never getting off the field on third down. Singletary did instill a tougher mindset than his predecessor, unfortunately for him he couldn't match the mentality with results.

Nolan brought organizational skills to the table, Sing whipped them into shape, and Harbaugh, glorious Harbaugh taught them how to actually play the game.
The nutcracker drill is like telling a QB to throw the ball as hard as he can and that will improve his passing.

There is more to tackling in football then pure physicality and brute strenghth. Fundamental tackling, proper angles, leverage etc, are all much more important then brute physicality.

This is the NFL, everyone is physically capable of playing the game, but some have the other skills down, which make them good players. JH and co. have instilled this part of the game nicely.

The best thing Singletary did was send VD to the showers and provide us with hilarious quote after quote.
[ Edited by Young2Rice on Jun 24, 2012 at 9:55 AM ]
The "Nutcracker" was flat out stupid.

He was WAY over his head as a HC.

Fangio brought the D to a new level and Sing had zero to do with it.
I think Singletary did, in fact weed out the week.
I think we are benefiting from not doing it anymore
Originally posted by Young2Rice:
The nutcracker drill is like telling a QB to throw the ball as hard as he can and that will improve his passing.

Good analogy!
Like thinking you would have a more manly walk for enduring a kick in the nuts
Singletary thought if he drafted big meaty linemen he could just move the opposing teams defensive line. No creativity, no strategy just plain dumb football.