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Kyle Shanahan on practice fights, training camp vs. practice, Trent Brown, position competitions

The 49ers head coach met with the media on Thursday following practice. We’ve got a full transcript, courtesy of 49ers PR. Watch video here.

Definitely looked like it got pretty feisty out there. You were in the middle of one of them. Were you bothered by the flare-ups that happened?

“I mean, you don’t want it to happen. You kind of expect it a little bit. Especially the second day when guys come back and it started brewing a little bit at the end of the first practice and then it usually carries over to the next day. Guys are competing hard. The one that I saw, it looked like someone got between [Denver Broncos CB] Aqib [Talib] and [WR] Pierre [Garçon]. At the end of the practice they were sitting laughing with each other, talking. Guys are competitive and guys support their teammates, and everyone’s got each other’s backs. So, anytime there’s a little scuffle on the field it’s really hard to keep people back on both sides because everyone is so protective of each other. I think that says a lot about both teams. But, I know their coaching staff and our coaching staff, their players and our players, I thought we did a pretty good job trying to treat each other the right way.”

Are you somebody who jumps in the middle of those or do you--?

“Oh no. I’m not ready to take a punch right now. I’m going to keep my distance. I try to do what I can, but that’s not much.”

The fight ensued because of the crack back block. What’s your take on crack backs in scrimmage?

“I mean, anything that’s illegal in a game we definitely don’t want to do that in practice either. I didn’t see it, so it’s all ‘He said, she said.’ I didn’t see it all. Usually there’s two people at fault and then it just escalates. That stuff happens all the time in games. What we preach to our players, if you’re scared to fight you’re probably not going to be in the NFL. So, you don’t need to prove yourself. Because it’s usually the second guy who gets the penalty. So, that’s stuff that we try to emulate in practice. And we know frustrations happen. You don’t have to prove to us that you’re a tough guy that wants to fight. You won’t be here if you’re not like that. So, ours is more the tougher guy who doesn’t throw the second punch because the second punch is usually the one that costs the team.”

Were you looking forward to seeing how aggressive your team was, how intense they were in a situation like this?

“Yeah. It’s really important to me to see us compete and have each other’s back and not turn anything down. That’s very important. You want to know about everybody. When you get in some of those situations you can really see how people are and how they respond. I think it’s a very hard thing to be that competitive, that physical, in this sport especially, and to play that aggressive between the whistles and stuff and then when something does happen, not to lose your cool. Because you’ve got to go to a different state to just get to that level to compete in the sport. I think it takes practice and I think it takes a special person to play that violent of a game. But, never to really lose your reality.”

Did LB Reuben Foster participate in any 11 on 11 today?

“No, he just did seven on seven and all the individual stuff.”

As far as you’re concerned, what’s the situation with his shoulder? Can he possibly play?

“Yeah, he actually was very upset with me that he didn’t today. We were just being safe with him. We know he hasn’t been on it very long. It was sore after yesterday, stuff that happens, especially with linebackers a lot. I mean, [LB NaVorro Bowman] Bo went out halfway through practice with the same thing. [Linebackers coach] Johnny [Holland] ended up pulling Bo out because his shoulder was sore. It was physical out there, especially going against another team. The way linebackers have to fit on people, and Reuben had some soreness so we didn’t feel it was worth it to put him out there today.”

Is he going to play Saturday?

“I expect him to. We’re going to be smart with him regardless, but I would expect him to. I don’t know how he’s going to feel then though.”

The Bowman thing happened today as well?

“I wasn’t out on that side at the time, but Johnny told me he pulled Bo halfway through practice because his shoulder was sore also.”

We’re not going to be able to see anymore of practices, but in your mind is training camp over or does it extend?

“It’s weird. Especially when you don’t go away. Every day is kind of the same day. I got reminded right at the end that tonight guys aren’t staying in the hotel and things like that. We’re going to be in the same time tomorrow, at the same place. It’s the day before a game so the schedule will be different. We get to next week and it’s versus Minnesota. Like many teams it’s our third preseason game. So, we’ll try to make that the exact same way as the season. So that, we won’t have the night walk-throughs and things. You don’t think about it much, but yeah training camp is over. What that means is we aren’t all staying in dorms together and we’re not having night walk-throughs.”

Where are you generally on competitions for jobs? Are they coming to an end?

“There’s a lot of good competition on our team. Not just for starter positions, but backup positions. I can tell you, it’s going to be real tough to cut it down to 53. We’re going to need all this game and practices to evaluate that.”

Have you looked into making decisions on playing time for Saturday?

“Yeah, we’ve talked about it. It’s not official yet. I’d like them to play a little bit more than they did last week. I think our offensive starters had like six plays. I want to say the defense had about 10. My goal is to get them in about 20, sometime in that second quarter. Third game you play them a little bit more. So, it’s somewhere between the first game and the third game is what we’d like. You never know how the drives are going to go. But, I’m hoping to get them out there for about 20 plays.”

Do you know who your second quarterback will be?

“I expect [QB] C.J. [Beathard] is going to be the second guy.”

Will he play past halftime?

“We haven’t fully decided that. It depends what type of drives he gets, who starts with the ball, who ends with the ball. My hunch is he’d open up the third quarter, but we’ll see.”

T Trent Brown has been getting a lot of praise from Denver Broncos LB Von Miller and some other guys out there, saying that he can be one of the top tackles in the league. What does he need to do to reach that level when he’s being considered in the same breath as T Joe Staley?

“He needs to do it every play. He definitely has the ability to do that. I heard Von say that in a quote two years ago too. I didn’t know Trent much. Not knowing him much coming out of college and not going against him because I was always on offense, but I heard that. To get here, I see why Von said that. Trent’s got a lot of ability, a lot of size, a lot of length. He’s very good in his pass protection. I think one thing that’s tough about O-Linemen in this league is you can be perfect for 67 plays and then three plays you’re off and those are the three plays that change the game. Those are really the only three plays that anyone saw of the person. Whether you’re late off the ball, whether you block the wrong guy, or whether you just get beat and you give up a crucial sack, that changes everything. I think, one thing about O-Linemen is consistency. Trent has a lot of ability and I think he’s working very hard since we’ve been here to get the most out of his ability. The more consistent he can be, he’s tough to deal with when he’s on.”

Are these two days good for the team’s confidence, you think? Just being able to look at another team that’s highly thought of and that you can tell that at least for these two practices you were on equal footing with them?

“Yeah. I think it’s important when you go against another team you always want to measure yourself up against other people, get sick of going against your own guys. I think our guys have just put their heads down and worked since we’ve been here. You don’t really know how much you’ve improved or how you haven’t until you go against other people. Bring in a team in like Denver and the success they’ve had and the talent they’ve had, 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. There’s lots of stuff we can clean up, lots of stuff we can do better. But, I think our guys were happy with how they competed and hopefully that can continue to carry over.”

We asked general manager John Lynch yesterday about the National Anthem protest. If any player of yours does engage in a protest or sits down, what’s your position on that?

“Just to talk to the guy. I mean, I’m not going to tell anyone what to do or not to do. I see stuff on TV also, things that are going on in this country and this world. I think anybody who sees that stuff and doesn’t get the feeling that they’d like to do something about it to end that stuff, I think something’s wrong with you. I completely understand why guys want to do stuff and want to speak up. I think there’s lots of different ways to do it. I know me personally, I’d always stand for the flag. I do that because, you know, it’s something I’ve always done. I see most people do it. And when I’m down there doing the National Anthem I’m pretty locked into my job at hand and thinking of what’s about to go on and my responsibilities as a coach, my responsibilities in my job. I’m so focused on that, I’m not thinking about much else. For a player, if they see that differently and they want to do something about that, I completely understand their intentions and why. Because I think everyone can agree there’s lots of stuff that’s pretty sad to see right now.”

Have you talked to the team about that?

“No I haven’t. I don’t think I necessarily need to. I think everyone gets kind of what’s going on, to a degree, and understands what’s very wrong about all the stuff. I think everyone wants to do stuff to help, and everyone wants to make a change. I’m not going to sit and tell people how to do that. That’s up to them. That’s why our country is the best country. If someone does decide to do that then, I’ll talk to anybody about anything. I’d like to know what our players are thinking and what’s going on and why they choose to do something, but there’s no need for me to address it until it’s something to talk about.”

Would you prefer that if someone was planning to do something you would know ahead of time or does it matter to you?

“Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me. It wouldn’t distract me. It’s hard to distract me at the time that that would happen. It might be distracting after a game when I get 1,000 questions about it and I didn’t even notice it during the game. Besides that, it’s just about being prepared for questions and things like that. I can totally understand people’s intentions and I would always just want to hear why.”

WR Marquise Goodwin and WR Jeremy Kerley gave the Broncos’ secondary fits in one on one drills. Do you give those guys free reign on double moves and triple moves depending on what the coverage dictates?

“I wish as a receiver that you can just run whatever and adjust to it. But, that quarterback is going to get sacked and throw a lot of picks. It’s tough to have the timing in this league. You have to throw it right on time, right when they’re open. If that quarterback doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing, no matter how open you get, they’re going to recover and it’s going to be a pick-six. I was messing with Aqib. I told him you’re going to see a lot more double moves in one on one because we don’t have to block Von Miller there. We know when we do, it’s harder to do double moves. He knows that too. So, we got a kick out of that. It’s always frustrating for DB’s in double moves in one on ones. It’s hard to guard double moves, but it’s hard to block for double moves long enough for them to develop.”

How would you access the receivers going against that pretty impressive cornerback group?

“I was proud of our guys. You know, that’s a challenge. We played against Denver last year and it was as good of a corner group as I’ve faced. They did a very good job versus our receivers last year, and we had a very good group of guys. I knew it was going to be a challenge. I thought the guys stepped up. They didn’t shy away from anything. I thought it was a good battle. I’m proud of our guys.”