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There are a lot of people behind the scenes whose work directly affects the 49ers success on the field, probably none more than equipment manager Steve Urbaniak.
For the last 12 years, Urbaniak, his two full-time assistants and three interns have outfitted the players, coaches and staff in whatever they need for rain, snow or shine. And I mean whatever they need.
If Urbaniak cannot find something a player or coach wants to feel at his best on the field, he will create it. From sewing a custom hoodie for former head coach Mike Singletary (he preferred the sleeves shortened and a zipper added in front) to cutting holes in Frank Gore’s cleats, Urbaniak gets it done.
The new stadium came with a new equipment room for Urbaniak.
Along with a lot more space, the big benefit is the time it saves the staff in getting their work done. Urbaniak gave me a tour of his new surroundings. They are impressive as you can see from the video.
A few other interesting tidbits on the equipment room, Urbaniak and his staff:
*They are responsible for outfitting 90-plus players both on and off the field in training camp. That includes customizing the playing equipment for each player. For instance, there are multiple options for the players to choose from when it comes to chin straps, pads and helmet inserts.
*The equipment staff put together 150 bags full of 49ers gear for the coaches, staff and their interns during training camp.
*All of the 49ers clothing in the equipment room –- sweatshirts, hats, rain gear, pants, hoodies, etc. –- are available to buy through the NFL store.
*Everyone on the equipment room staff knows how to sew.
*Every player is sponsored by his own shoe company. Players can wear whatever cleats they like in practice and pre game, but must meet certain color requirements for the game. Urbaniak and his staff manage four floor-to-ceiling racks full of game and practice cleats for each player. These include cleats for every field condition. Michael Crabtree's and Frank Gore’s shoe sections are the largest. Crabtree is the only one on the team sponsored by Air Jordan. Gore loves his Adidas and goes through nearly a pair a practice. He wears them one size too small. Urbaniak will stretch the sides and make cuts to create room for Gore’s big toe to make sure they fit like a glove.
*Socks are the most sought after item in the equipment room by players.
*The new laundry machines save Urbaniak two hours in wash time after every game.
*The equipment staff works on the field during practices and pregame warm ups. They move blocking sleds, tackling dummies and clocks into position and help the assistant coaches. One intern serves as the center for the quarterbacks during individual drills. Another intern is responsible for throwing deep balls to the defensive backs. He actually had to try out for Ed Donatell as the secondary coach wants the balls thrown a specific way.
*Assistant equipment manager Doc Dressler is in charge of the special mud that is used to prep all the game balls. (It’s the same mud used to break in major league baseballs). Colin Kaepernick likes his balls a certain way for a better grip. Phil Dawson has his own preference for the balls he kicks. Either way, they have to be approved by the game official.
*Urbaniak bought a hockey skate stretcher to break in new cleats for linemen.
*Before the equipment staff only had a small counter top to fix helmets and gear. They now have an entire tool section and work table.
*They clean the 49ers locker room -- which is a mess at the end of a week of practices –- each Saturday afternoon before a home game and prep each locker with the player’s individual game gear. When the team walks in game day morning, everything is uniform and pristine.
*They pack all the equipment needed for road games and make sure to take at least one of everything.