49ers’ Practice Edge: Prepping for Packers Showdown

Joe Lee
How 49ers used padded practices to prepare for matchup vs. Packers

SANTA CLARA : The 49ers held a couple full-speed, fully-padded workouts during the bye week, which is uncommon towards the conclusion of the season, let alone during the playoffs.

Coach Kyle Shanahan stressed the value of the intense practices on Thursday before the team’s Saturday NFC divisional playoff round showdown at Levi’s Stadium against the Green Bay Packers.

Shanahan remarked, “Oh, it’s huge.” “We must take action when so many players were left off of the pitch in our most recent Sunday game against the Rams. It really helps, in my opinion, to just have those moments. Pads have a big impact on players, teams, and their game.

As the squad prepares for the postseason, maintaining maximum health is the top goal, but fundamentals like solid tackling must still be practiced. The Packers’ Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, two dynamic runners, present a formidable duo for the 49ers’ defence.

In the absence of a bye week and a meaningless game in Week 18, Shanahan probably would have kept his men out of the pads while maintaining a high level of energy.

Shanahan remarked, “We can get away with it because we practise almost the same way without them.” However, some guys—not all of them—complain a little bit about it because they want to feel it, but I also have some males incognito who want me to put on the pads.

All they want is for their peers to not take offence at them. They thus attempt to give me cues. After that, I usually confront them so they can take the blame rather than me.

Wide receiver Jauan Jennings might have been one of the players who hinted to Shanahan that he wanted to get back into pads. The physical wideout is geared up to play after being sidelined with a concussion since the club’s Week 15 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

“I just needed it,” Jennings told NBC Sports Bay Area. “So excited to get out there on Saturday and play. I needed it big time. Being this late in the season it is unusual but it felt like home, that’s what it felt like. We are so competitive, we like going against each other.”

This might not be the last of the 49ers’ padded practices. If they can stay alive long enough to make it to Super Bowl LVIII, the extra time might warrant the same practice style.

“One of our best practices I can remember was a full padded one in Miami before the Super Bowl, just a couple days,” Shanahan recalled. “You take those extra weeks off and stuff. Most of the guys want the pads on by then. Usually by the second period it’s like, ‘All right, that’s enough. We can take them off.’”

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has enjoyed the spirited practices that include first-team 11-on-11s. Those matchups usually only take place during training camp with work during the season consisting of the starters facing off against the scout team.

“It’s been fun,” Aiyuk said “We are having a lot of fun. I think I was saying yesterday, throughout the course of the season, it’s a little different to wake up for games. Now it’s playoff football with everything on the line. It’s a lot more fun that way. Easy to wake up for and a lot of excitement.”

The excitement kicks off at 5:15 p.m. PT on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium to see which team will head to the NFC Championship Game on January 21.

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