Sakamoto: 49ers WRC Bob Bicknell Drills Wide Receivers In More Ways Than One


Every NFL coach has their own set of drills they use in any given practice. Depending on the scheme for that week’s game or simply fine-tuning fundamentals, every coach has their unique approach of how they want their positional drills ran.

Last year we witnessed WRC Adam Henry working with the 49ers receivers under then-HC Jim Tomsula, and this year we have WRC Bob Bicknell at the helm, under offensive genius HC Chip Kelly.

So with a new coaching staff in place, I’m sure you guys are wondering if the positional drills are similar. Well yes and no.

Below is a breakdown of some of the wide receiver drills from both Coach Henry and Bicknell, and the subtle differences between the two. Enjoy.


Comparing the Hand-Release Drill:

Hand Release Drill: The object of this drill goes back to fundamentals. In order to get a good quick release off the line of scrimmage, you need to first use the proper open-hand to slap. If you watch WR Quinton Patton in the video below you will notice his fundamentals were not evident on this drill.

Instead of slapping his open-hand across his body, he instead slaps using an upward motion. This rarely works in the NFL because defensive backs can then re-position themselves giving them a second chance to recover. However, WR DeAndrew White on the other hand did this drill to perfection.

On the surface it appears that all the wide receivers did the hand-release drill correctly with Coach Bicknell (2nd video). But that’s not the case. When looking closer you will notice that only two receivers did this drill correctly. They are none other than WR/TE Devon Cajuste (86) and WR Freddie Martino (89). It’s just a slap, right? Wrong.

at Stanford Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Palo Alto, California.

Cajuste and Martino followed up the slap with a chop at the end. It does the receiver no justice if he delivers a strong open-hand slap (target area from wrist to tricep) only to have the press cornerback quickly recover. To avoid this problem you will notice that Cajuste and Martino both used a chop at the end so that the cornerback can’t get a hand on them. It’s the little details like these that coaches pay attention to especially when tough roster cuts are being made.

The other drills below are pretty much straight forward. The point of the hitch drill is mainly to keep your head up when running your route.

WRC Adam Henry uses tackle dummy for teaching hand release:

#49ers WRs working on their balls skills during today’s practice! #NinerFans #SpotSakamoto #ForeverFaithful

A video posted by Ryan Sakamoto 🏈 (@sakamotoryan_) on

WRC Bob Bicknell uses a more hands-on approach for teaching hand release:


WRC Adam Henry uses PVC pipes for operating his curl-route drills:

49ers WRs working on keeping head up when running routes

A video posted by Ryan Sakamoto 🏈 (@sakamotoryan_) on

WRC Bob Bicknell uses two agility dummies while spreading four tackle dummies horizontally in his curl drill:

WRC Adam Henry implements PVC pipes and tackle dummy in squat-route drill:

WRC Bob Bicknell uses multiple tackle dummies for straight-line bullet pass drill:

WRC Bob Bicknell uses two agility dummies and four tackle dummies (horizontally) when operating his dig-route drill:

WRC Bob Bicknell intentionally throws bad passes, teaching his players to adjust to ball in air:


Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.