San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan speaks to the media during Super Bowl LI weekend in January. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was very pleased with the way his team competed in joint practice sessions with the Denver Broncos on Wednesday and Thursday.
The teams went head-to-head in full gear on Wednesday, then donned shoulder pads only for Thursday’s session, which featured as much individual and seven-on-seven drills as full-unit duels.
"You always want to measure yourself up against other people," Shanahan said of the perennial AFC West contender. "I think to get out there and compete with those guys, I think it does give you some confidence. But, also, I think our guys expected it, too. I think they were expecting to do good."
Wednesday’s scrimmage-type competition was marred by one confrontation instigated by 49ers free safety Adrian Colbert, who belted Broncos tight end Steven Scheu in a non-contract drill. Thursday’s session had a couple of lesser skirmishes, one involving 49ers wideout Pierre Garcon and Denver’s standout cornerback, Aqib Talib.
While calling the flare-ups unfortunate, Shanahan saw a positive in how the 49ers handled the situations.
"What we preach to our players: If you’re scared to fight, you’re probably not going to be in the NFL," he claimed. "It’s really important to me to see us compete and have each other’s back and not turn anything down. When you get in some of those situations, you can really see how people are and how they respond."
–49ers Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Steve Young attended the team’s practice Tuesday and addressed the club at the request of general manager John Lynch.
"They talked about the ’49er way,’" Lynch explained. "I always thought it’s one of the great things about this league. In fact, I think it’s a great beacon for the rest of culture in terms of the way it should be.
"These guys (current 49ers) know when we walk by those Super Bowl trophies, they don’t come free. You’ve got to go earn them."
Rice showed up in cleats and ran drills with the roster hopefuls.
"If Jerry Rice wants to practice, go ahead and practice. That’s good for us," Lynch insisted. "And Steve Young … the stories they told, I think, better than we ever could, they told them what the ’49er way’ is and it was awesome. I was sitting up there watching. I was proud of our guys because they were just spellbound on those guys. And so, why not take advantage?"