The San Francisco 49ers are two weeks into training camp, and tempers are starting to flare a bit. On Friday, wide receiver Anquan Boldin was sent off the field after getting into a fight with cornerback Darryl Morris. Additionally, linebacker Chase Thomas and running back Jewel Hampton started to get into it before Coach Harbaugh broke it up. And now, Sunday, Chris Culliver was sent off the practice field after what the beat writers described as an unnecessary hit on wide receiver David Reed.
Harbaugh told the defense there would be no more cheap shots. Culliver appeared to take exception and Harbaugh asked for his replacement.— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) August 3, 2014
Jim Harbaugh just walked with Chris Culliver to locker room at end practice. Put hand on his back. #49ers— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) August 3, 2014
Any "cheap shots" are certainly something to keep an eye on given the run of injuries we have seen. However, beyond that, heated practices aren't the end of the world. This should not be a regular occurrence, but the occasional dust-up is to be expected. These guys are spending virtually every day with each other for most of the day. Whether they are on the practice field, in the classroom, in the weight room, or even in the lunch room, tempers are eventually going to flare. You spend enough time with somebody for this kind of time, things are going to happen.
I do like that Harbaugh sent Anquan Boldin off the field after his "fight" with Morris. It doesn't sound like it was too big a deal, but it is good Harbaugh took care of business. Matt Barrows described the scene in some detail:
Then during a two-minute drill at the end of practice, quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw to Boldin on the left side of the formation. He went back in Boldin's direction on the right side for a second completion and cornerback Darryl Morris went to wrap him up.
Boldin didn't like it. He tossed the ball at Morris, and when Morris approached him, he gave the young cornerback a fierce two-handed shot to the facemask. At that point, Harbaugh threw his body between the combatants and sent Boldin, an 11-year veteran, off the field.
As Coach Harbaugh has put it, it's all about "the team, the team, the team." There does not appear to be overtly special treatment, and sending off a key veteran leader like Anquan Boldin is an important message. I don't think Harbaugh was specifically trying to send that message. I think he was simply doing what he does. But the message is clear to everybody else that there are rules to be followed.