SANTA CLARA, Calif. — After halting practice for the second time due to a fight on Tuesday, coach Kyle Shanahan told his team to regroup.
He hastened to say a few harsh words about what had just happened. Beneath the anger was a simple message about how Shanahan wants his team to play.
Physical ? Absolutely. Hard ? Yes. Irritating? Sure.
But Shanahan wants the Niners to refrain from throwing punches, which happened twice in Tuesday’s practice, including between star linebacker Fred Warner and receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
“I want everyone to challenge each other,” Shanahan said Friday.
“I don’t care how much bullshit each other is talking about, I don’t care if they’re close to a fight. They can do whatever they want to be as intense as they want and bring out the best in themselves, which often happens that way. And it’s the same on the pitch, but once you throw a punch, it’s unacceptable. »
The biggest fight, between Warner and Aiyuk, started when a late hit from Warner sent receiver Marcus Johnson into concussion protocol.
A few days earlier, Aiyuk had jokingly told the media that Warner was “boring” and that his insistence on continuing to snatch the ball and tag players after play was “irritating”.
“Specifically with Brandon, I picked him,” Warner said. I think he is ready to take this next step to play at an elite level. I harassed him a bit… because I know everything he has in him. And I know that if I harass him a bit, he’s going to get fed up and start fighting back. …I try to get the best out of him. That’s all.”
On Friday, Shanahan said he was okay with his players pushing each other, and that he trusted them to do it the right way. But incidents like Tuesday’s must come to a natural stopping point.
The Niners went through the rest of practice Tuesday and all of Wednesday without further incident. In the meantime, Shanahan hammered home that his team can be physical without resorting to fighting.