Plummer focused on contract season

"My mindset is on football. That's all I'm thinking about right now," Ahmed Plummer recently told SFI. But the Niners' bulked-up star cornerback obviously has plenty of other important things to think about as he prepares for training camp later this month, an event that signals the start of the most consequential season of his NFL career.

To put it simply, the 2003 season is a big year for Plummer. So he went out and got bigger.

To prepare for his contract season - Plummer becomes a free agent in 2004 - the fourth-year pro packed on "about 15 to 20" pounds of muscle to his 6-foot frame during the offseason. All the better to bang and bump with the top receivers in the NFL.

Plummer already had become quite proficient at that during his first three seasons in the league, when he established himself as one of the top young cornerbacks in football. Now, he promises to bring even more wallop with his fine coverage skills.

"I think it will help him," Niners coach Dennis Erickson said. "It will make him more physical. I didn't realize that he put on a lot of weight, because he can still move. From what I've seen on video from last year and from what I've seen this spring, he's going to be one of the top corners in this league."

Plummer has been working toward that goal since he entered the NFL. He reached the edge of stardom in 2001, his second season, with seven interceptions while establishing himself as San Francisco's top coverage corner. Then he watched several opponents throw away from him last year while he battled through a series of minor injuries that affected his play.

The inconsistency of 2002 has made Plummer work even harder. He missed the team's last June minicamp with muscle strains in his lower abdominal and groin regions, but that was mostly as a precaution. He'll be ready when the Niners hit the field on July 25 to begin their long journey of 2003.

"For me, personally, it's a huge year, as far as my career goals, as far as my progress as a defensive back in this league, and being able to do the things that I know that I can do," Plummer said. "And that's why I've spent a lot of time with football during this offseason, probably more than I have before. I've really just been focusing in on this upcoming season."

He'll worry later about becoming a free agent, a development that could make him a multimillionaire. And, possibly, also make him an ex-49er.

"You can't really think about that right now," Plummer said. "I'm just thinking about football. I'm not thinking about contracts. I know for me, personally, I let my agent and everybody who I've hired and pay good money to handle that off-field stuff. There will be a time when I have to make a decision, and I'll leave it to that time. For now, it's not going to help me think about that. What's going to help me is to concentrate on football and do what I need to do around here."

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