San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wants his players to go to the line, but he doesn’t want them to follow him.
In response to Niners players trading punches — including linebacker Fred Warner and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk — during Tuesday’s practice, Shanahan let it be known Friday that he wants his players to be tough, physical, even “irritating,” but he doesn’t want them throwing their hands off each other.
“I want everyone to challenge each other,” Shanahan said Friday, via the team transcript. “I don’t care how much bullshit they talk to each other. I don’t care how close they get to the fight. They can do whatever they want to get in there and be as intense as they want and get the best out of it. the other , which often happens that way. And it’s the same thing on the pitch, but once you throw a punch, you get sent off or you get a penalty. And we’re proud, I I want people to be irritating. I want people to be as close to it as possible. I want people to be on the line where they’re about to pass out. But you can’t pass out on the football or you’re going to cost your team dearly, but I love doing that to other people.”
Much of Tuesday’s speech stemmed from the fact that Warner was admittedly trying to push Aiyuk. With Aiyuk defending himself, it eventually led to a fight.
Shanahan was fine with Aiyuk holding on.
“Certainly I understood what he resisted,” Shanahan said, “so it didn’t bother me.”
Essentially, Shanahan wants his players to push their physique, themselves and their opponents to the limit, but not overstep it.
Fighting in football leads to penalties and broken hands, so better shoot your dukes.
“I love his intensity,” Shanahan said. “I don’t think you have to fight to be intense though. Scuffles are scuffles, but then they lead to other things. I think that’s why we have a guy in protocol, because we have unnecessarily shot someone that led to the big fight. And then we had a bunch of haymakers and stuff thrown in there, which will only break your hands. I think our team is pretty tough.” I think we’re pretty physical. I think if most people probably voted for who was the most physical team on tape last year, I think we’d win most of that. And we don’t We haven’t been in a single fight last year, so I don’t think it totally relates to toughness.
While Warner and Aiyuk faced off in a showdown that led to an offensive vs. defense donnybrook on Tuesday, it came after Warner delivered a questionable blow to wide receiver Marcus Johnson. Johnson is now in concussion protocol, as Shanahan mentioned in regards to the scuffles leading “to other things.”
So while the 49ers made headlines and self-inflicted injuries this week, Shanahan delivered his message: keep the intensity high and your hands down.