‘I want people to be irritants,’ not fighters

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wants his players to go all the way, but he doesn’t want them to go for it.

In response to Niners players exchanging punches — most notably linebacker Fred Warner and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk — during Tuesday’s practice, Shanahan said on Friday that he wants his players to be tough, physical, even “irritating,” but he don’t want them throwing hands.

“I want everyone to challenge each other,” Shanahan said Friday via the team’s transcript. “I don’t care how much bullshit they talk to each other. I don’t care how close they get to fighting. They can do whatever they want to get themselves going and be as intense as they want and bring out the best in each other, which often happens that way. And it’s the same on the pitch, but once you throw a punch, you’re sent off or you get a penalty. And we’re proud of it, I want people to be annoying. I want people as close as they can to all those things i want people to get right on the line where they are about to black out but you cant black out in football or that costs your team, but I like to do that To other people.”

Much of Tuesday’s discourse stemmed from Warner admittedly trying to push Aiyuk. When Aiyuk stood up for himself, it eventually led to a fight.

Shanahan was fine with Aiyuk holding his ground.

“Sure, I understood what he was up against,” Shanahan said, “so it didn’t bother me.”

Essentially, Shanahan wants his players to push their physique, themselves, and their opponents to their limits, but not exceed them.

Fights in football result in penalties and broken hands, so it’s best to put down your dukes.

“I like the intensity of it,” Shanahan said. “I don’t think you have to fight to be intense. A scuffle is a scuffle, but then they lead to other things. I think that’s why we have a man in protocol, because we shot an unnecessary shot at someone which led to the big fight And then we had a bunch of haymakers and stuff thrown in that will only break hands I think our team is pretty strong I think we’re pretty physical I think like most people probably “Voted on who had the most physical team on tape last year, I think we would win the most from that. And we didn’t fight in one fight last year, so I don’t think it has anything to do with toughness.”

As Warner and Aiyuk go head-to-head in a clash that led to an attack-versus-defense donnybrook on Tuesday, it came after Warner delivered a questionable hit to Marcus Johnson. Johnson now has a concussion protocol, which Shanahan refers to regarding skirmishes that “lead to other things.”

So, with the 49ers making headlines this week inflicting some self-inflicted wounds, Shanahan delivered his message: keep the intensity high and your hands down.

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