The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 23, 2014

MSU football coaches get their pro days

Bell, Eck spend summer learning from NFL, CFL teams

Brian Bell didn’t always aspire to be a professional football coach.

When he came to Minnesota State eight seasons ago, he had other goals. But the longer he’s been in the profession, the more he’s thought about coaching NFL athletes.

“It’s just like a player,” Bell said. “You want to play at the highest level. Coaching at the highest level is something I’d like to do.”

As a step in that process, Bell is participating in the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship, working with the San Francisco 49ers. He spent a couple weeks there in June during minicamps, and he’ll return in July for training camp and one preseason game.

“It’s a great experience.” he said, back in his Minnesota State office where he was working on the upcoming recruiting class and getting ready for fall camp, which begins in mid-August. “You get to see how a professional organization runs and treats its players, and you see how players react with the coaches.”

The Walsh program is administered by the NFL Management Council and NFL Player Engagement, with the objective of using training camps, offseason workout programs and minicamps to give coaches the opportunity to experience and obtain a full-time NFL coaching position.

Bell worked with several members of the 49ers’ coaching staff, including head coach Jim Harbaugh. He also worked with linebackers and defensive backs, including former Mankato East safety Craig Dahl, who is in his second season with the 49ers.

Former coach George Seifert visited practices a few times, as did Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice.

“The attention to detail is the big thing,” Bell said. “The players and coaches really go about their work in a professional manner. It’s as an eye-opener how complex the game is. Here, we might install three or four defenses in a day. They install eight in a day.”

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