Seminar or workouts? SF rookies must choose

The NFL Players Association has received registration from almost 70 percent of the league's 2011 rookie class for a seminar next week that's replacing the mandatory annual Rookie Symposium, which the NFL canceled due to the lockout. Since the 49ers have a session of player-organized workouts scheduled for next week, the team's 10 draft picks have a decision to make about which event to attend.

Without the "mandatory" status that the NFL's annual Rookie Symposium entails, and minus the threat of fines for those who do not attend the event, the NFLPA has received registrations from nearly 70 percent of the 2011 draft class for its alternative seminar, The Sports Xchange has confirmed.

The decertified players association will convene the symposium, which it has titled "The Business of Football: Rookie Edition," in Bradenton, Fla. on Monday. The event will conclude June 30.

According to an NFLPA official, the association received registration requests from 177 of the 254 players chosen in the draft nearly two months ago. That represents 69.7 percent of the draft class. Registration ended Wednesday.

"We're pleased," NFLPA senior regional director Jason Belser told The Sports Xchange via e-mail.

The league announced last month that it was canceling the 2011 Rookie Symposium, originally slated to begin June 26 in Canton, Ohio, because of the lockout. Just eight days later, the NFLPA said it would hold its own rookie session. The symposium was at first scheduled for Washington, D.C., and then subsequently moved to Bradenton, in part because of the IMG Academy facilities there.

It's uncertain which of the 10 rookies the 49ers selected during the NFL draft in April have registered to attend the event.

The 49ers are conducting another session of team workouts organized by players throughout next week. Six rookie draft picks – quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running back Kendall Hunter, offensive linemen Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person, wide receiver Ronald Johnson and defensive end/linebacker Aldon Smith – attended the previous session held June 6-9 at San Jose State University.

The NFLPA rookie seminar runs through next Thursday, meaning all San Francisco rookies will have to choose between attending the event or gathering with future 49ers teammates for workouts in the Bay Area.

Recent reports indicate Kaepernick plans to remain in California and attend the workouts, which are putting focus on the offensive side of the football. The earlier session was attended predominantly by offensive players, though more defensive players are expected to be on hand next week.

Next week's seminar in Florida includes an all-expense paid trip with free workouts and expert coaching at IMG Academies – one of the world's largest sports training and education complexes – and also will feature networking opportunities with former and current NFL types such as Joe Gibbs, Herm Edwards, Plaxico Burress and and Luther Ellis.

It is believed that the NFLPA symposium will follow most of the principles and topics of the NFL sessions, which focused heavily on real-life issues such as money management, investments, dealing with celebrity and time demands, using good judgment and player demeanor in general. Like the league seminar, the NFLPA symposium is expected to feature a broad range of experts both in and outside of the game.

Created in 1997, ostensibly to help young players transition to the professional game, the seminar has been lauded as successful by NFL and NFLPA officials.

During its 14-year run, the NFL Rookie Symposium has had near-100 percent attendance, in part because it is mandatory for all drafted players. Attendance has been at 100 percent, in fact, for each of the past six years. It is believed that no player has been fined for either not attending or for departing early without an excuse, since 2004.

It doesn't appear likely, however, that the 49ers will have that kind of participation from their draft class this year.

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