© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hot in Tampa, Florida, and very humid; the feeling is akin to that of bathing in a steaming bowl of soup. The outlook in Tampa for Sunday, when the 49ers will play their first game of the season against the Buccaneers, remains uncomfortable. According to the latest forecast, it’s looking like a full three hours of roughly 90 degrees in 70 percent humidity with a 20 percent chance of rain.
Santa Clara is warm, but it’s not currently hot (low 80s at most in recent and upcoming days), although it is fairly humid (48 percent humidity). In fact, the humidity in Santa Clara is only about 10 percent lower than in Tampa on average, though Tampa’s weather feels far worse than that. That said, the 49ers want to be ready – maybe even over-prepared – for that swamp-like atmosphere.
In order to deal with that, some sweat-filled measures have been put in place.
According to starting left guard Laken Tomlinson, the team’s head strength and conditioning coordinator Dustin Perry has cranked up the temperature in the weight room to about 100 degrees. In addition to that, the team’s head of player health and performance, Ben Peterson, brought out a hot tent where the team stores some of its stationary bikes; players hop in and out of the tent, often after practice, to get acclimated to the heat. Tomlinson said it feels like it’s 110 degrees in the tent.
“We know it’s going to be hot out there [in Tampa],” Tomlinson said. “We’re prepared for it.”
Rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s dealt with heat his whole life, growing up in Inman, South Carolina, before going to the University of South Carolina in downtown Columbia.
Samuel said the humidity “is crazy” in South Carolina, but being that he’s been mainly in California since being drafted, he’s had to get re-acclimated to that heat and humidity with the help of the hot tent.
“It kind of gets your body immune to what you’re about to really go through,” Samuel told KNBR. “I wouldn’t say it’s that bad, but you feel it because when you come out of the tent, it’s kind of cold outside. So you’re like, ‘Was it really that hot in there?'”
The heat is likely far from the forefront of Samuel’s mind as a rookie. He said his positioning is still relatively fluid, as the Kyle Shanahan offense necessitates positional flexibility; Samuel said he doesn’t have a positional preference and more than anything, is looking forward to his NFL debut on Sunday, wherever that may be on the field.
While he said his friends like to chat him up about being in the league, his parents, Precious Martin and Galen Samuel, like to talk about anything but football. The elder Samuel gave Deebo – whose legal name is Tyshun – the nickname for being a childhood bully to kids in his neighborhood growing up. The name comes from the movie “Friday,” after the 6’6″ bully of the film, Thomas “Tiny” Lister. Deebo said at the NFL Draft that he’s now only a bully on the field.
“Me and my family back home, stuff back home, football is not the main focus that we talk about,” Samuel said. “We talk about like how I’m doing, how is life. It’s really not mainly focused on football. I’m pretty sure they’ve got an idea like I want to take care of my business while I’m here, so they don’t want to be all about football. They want to check and see how I’m doing rather than stuff like that.”