I just got off the phone with fullback Michael Robinson, who said his absence from the team's most recent OTA sessions was due to a busy schedule in his native Virginia. Robinson recently launched his foundation, Excel 2 Excellence, which helps underprivileged kids achieve their educational goals. "That could be college, trade school, vocational school," Robinson said. "We're trying to offset all of the cuts that are happening right now." Robinson also hosted his first football camp this weekend at Varina High School in Richmond, Va. Teammates Manny Lawson, who is from North Carolina, and Josh Morgan, who is from Washington, D.C., helped him run the camp.
Robinson said he planned to attend the rest of the 49ers' offseason practices. Like a number of 49ers, Robinson trains in the offseason in Arizona. That's also where Lawson and cornerback Nate Clements, neither of whom have participated in the team's offseason program thus far, have been training. As MM reported last week, Clements forfeited a $500,000 workout bonus by staying away from Santa Clara this offseason, which we all can agree is a significant sum.
Lawson is entering the final year of his contract while Clements has four years remaining on his deal. Both players, however, may be auditioning for future employers during the 2010 season. Lawson's absence is understandable in that he doesn't want to risk an injury that would affect his 2010 season and thus his value on the 2011 free-agent market. Clements, meanwhile, will make $6 million in base salary this year and $7.25 million next year. Because there is no salary cap in 2010, the 49ers can afford to keep him around this year. Next season, however, is a different story, especially since the 49ers are expected to dole out big contracts to Vernon Davis, Dashon Goldson and at quarterback.
Which is a long way of saying that Lawson and Clements are in the same boat. And that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to the 49ers' 2010 season. Both players will be extremely motivated, and I'm hearing that Lawson's offseason regimen is focused on improving his power and explosion in attempt to increase his sack total. Lawson led the 49ers with 6 ½ sacks in 2009.
It also must be noted that all the 49ers practices heretofore have been voluntary. The only mandatory sessions prior to training camp run June 17-19.
-- Matt Barrows