49ers train on 'the hill'

June 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary is an old school coach who is hoping to get his team back to the Super Bowl. Now, he has added a new wrinkle to their practice field known simply as "the hill."

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From a distance, "the hill" doesn't look that imposing, but as you get closer, it's a bit intimidating. Coach Singletary had it built for conditioning purposes.

"I think they'll see a difference once the season gets underway," says Coach Singletary.

"Yeah, he's definitely utilized it and I feel it out there. I feel stronger, more powerful, faster, " says 49er linebacker Jeff Ulbrich.

The concept of the hill is to build football muscle mass by running up and down hill, putting a different strain on the thighs and hamstrings. It's also an alternative to running on level ground and of course misery loves company, especially when working out.

"I think things like that are great for a team, builds camaraderie, we all go through it together, sweat together and push each other," says 49er quarterback Alex Smith.

Every athlete at this level is physically capable, but there's also a mental aspect to this sport.

"The most neglected muscle that we train is the mind sometimes. It's tough to run that thing. We run it non-stop for 20-30 minutes straight sometimes, so it definitely tests you upstairs," says Ulbrich.

49er rookies have gotten acquainted with the hill during mini-camps.

"It's a beast, but it's great work. If we weren't doing it to better ourselves, it would be a difficult task to overcome," says 49er rookie running back Glenn Coffee.

Love it or hate it, if the hill can help get this team back to the Super Bowl, it will be the "king of the hill."

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