Niners' staff proceeding as if there will be no work stoppage

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- New 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman has been prying around the team's headquarters for the last month, scouring old films, playbooks and anything else he can find on how late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh first installed the West Coast offense in San Francisco.

Apparently he can't get enough.

"I went to Home Depot last night and got an ax and a pick. I'm ready to dig for them," Roman jokingly said.

Planning is about all the new 49ers coaching staff can do right now.

Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio acknowledged Wednesday that their transition could be entirely more difficult if any offseason workouts -- or even training camp -- are canceled because of negotiations between the NFL and players' union over a new collective bargaining agreement.

They're preparing for the offseason as if there won't be a work stoppage, even formulating playbooks without knowing exactly which players will be on the roster. New head coach Jim Harbaugh -- who brought Roman and Fangio from his Stanford staff when he was hired last month -- already has mapped out dates for summer minicamps and organized team activities.

Of course, that might all change.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the day March 3, and the contentious negotiations between owners and players are making a work stoppage increasingly likely. That's a scary scenario for a 49ers team that is unsettled at quarterback and can't sign any free agents until a deal is reached.

"We're not going to have any contact with the players in a football sense," Roman said on the possibility of a lockout. "At least that's my understanding of it right now. We really haven't (talked) up to this point. We're too busy dotting I's and crossing T's. You don't want to give players information that's not fully concrete."

There are some things that are a little more solid.

The two coordinators already have decided they will work from an upstairs booth during games. Roman and Harbaugh likely will split play-calling duties in the West Coast offense, and Fangio plans to use personnel for a 3-4 defense that at times might mimic a 4-3 base.

Special teams coordinator and associate head coach Brad Seely also said his job title in the past has allowed him to be a liaison between Harbaugh and the other coaches when necessary. As for anything with players, there's not much they can do until there's a new collective bargaining agreement in place.

"The sensitivity of this issue that's going on now, the only interaction I've had with any players is if they're here in the building," Fangio said. "We pass in the hall, say hello, introduce themselves, try to find out about them as people, their family.

"My feeling is, until we can get direction and really get into the coaching and the football, we'll wait until then."

There's still a sense of urgency surrounding the staff.

The biggest task is stopping the revolving door at quarterback, perhaps the biggest reason the 49ers haven't made the playoffs since 2002. Roman said quarterback Alex Smith has some quality attributes and wouldn't rule out the 49ers' 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick returning to San Francisco despite being a free agent.

There are still several other holes on a 49ers team that finished 6-10 last season, even though they were in the chase for a playoff berth in the NFL's worst division until the second-to-last week, when coach Mike Singletary was fired. Some of those needs can be filled in the draft, which still will be held as planned beginning April 28.

If there's still no deal after that, the coaches will be watching and waiting like everybody else.

"A lot of guys have said, 'Have you got this scenario covered? That scenario? Are you going to do this or that?' I'm not sweating that stuff," Fangio said. "I'm going to figure it out once they tell us what the rules are. Right now, I'm moving forward as if there's not going to be a lockout and we're going to have a normal offseason.

"Once that becomes obvious that we're not, we'll make adjustments."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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