The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are midway through their three joint practices, and both sides seem to be getting a lot out of these. DC Vic Fangio mentioned how he has done over 20 of these joint practices, and he said they have all been beneficial. OC Greg Roman also met with the media Sunday afternoon, and he talked about the value of joint practices.
The most notable comment was about getting the No. 1 units extra reps against each others. In a preseason game, there are only so many reps between the No. 1s, and of course, even then, some of those guys are getting rest. The 49ers sat six of their defensive starters. They did not have many of them back for practices, but even just adding Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith adds something the Ravens could not see on Thursday.
Roman also talked about the ability to work against different looks. The 49ers offense worked against the 49ers defense the first two weeks of camp, but bringing in the Ravens defense provided another look. Sure, it's great seeing guys like Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, and Ahmad Brooks for a couple weeks. But there is something to be gained by mixing in Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, and Haloti Ngata.
Speaking of Suggs, he was very complimentary of the 49ers. He talked about the value of getting to match up with Joe Staley these three days, acknowledging he is one of the best tackles in the league. Greg Roman talked about the flip side to that, of Staley getting to go against a force like Terrell Suggs. Even though the 49ers have some great pass rushers, seeing something a little different than you're used to in camp is a good thing.
Jim and John Harbaugh were asked about the possibility of holding this kind of practice next season. It is not surprising that both were just looking to these practices. These practices worked out because the 49ers and Ravens were scheduled together for the preseason. Maybe this becomes a new tradition, similar to what the 49ers used to have with the Raiders. The 49ers and Raiders used to met each preseason, and they would also run joint practices. That has not happened in several years, and there is no indication it will return.
The 49ers and Raiders meet up this season in a regular season contest, and if that goes well it is possible we could see something change. In the meantime, maybe 49ers-Ravens becomes a new annual tradition.