Sunday’s practice for the 49ers included a couple of skirmishes involving rookie third-round receiver Jalen Hurd. On Monday, coach Kyle Shanahan scored the fights. Specifically, he was asked by reporters to enter a verdict.
“Verdict in like who was right and who was wrong?” Shanahan said. “Well, we fought, so everyone’s wrong. . . . It was a good teaching moment. I’m actually glad it happened, because we were allowed to cover a lot of stuff that we hadn’t covered this camp yet that the older guys have heard, but the new guys haven’t. It led to a lot of good teaching points in our meeting today.”
Shanahan explained that Hurd was merely behaving in the way the organization expected him to behave.
“For the beginning part of it, I was proud of how Jalen handled himself,” Shanahan said. “That’s why we brought him here. We want him to be physical, we want him to irritate the heck out of every player in that secondary and I hope he pisses people off. I hope a lot of guys throw punches at him, and that’s what happened. I looked hard to see if he was doing anything cheap in the play. Didn’t see it on tape, but someone took a shot at him and then that’s where I got upset with Jalen. He’s going to piss a lot of people off and I hope a lot of people take shots at him and I hope he sits there with his helmet on and smiles at them and waves to them as they get ejected and gets us a free 15-yards. But, he failed in that yesterday. He got the guy irritated enough to lose his composure, the guy hit him and then he fought back, so we lost both of them for the game.
“We had offsetting penalties, so he didn’t help us. But that was a good thing to point out. We want physical guys, we want to be able to get after it and compete. We want them on the tip of fighting. But football’s not fighting. Football is football. You get as close as you can to fighting and then you remember it’s football and the play’s over and you go back to the huddle. If you don’t, it’s a selfish act and it’s fake toughness to me. All you’re doing is hurting the team, and Jalen’s a tough dude. I think he’ll be real good at this going forward.”
To summarize, Shanahan doesn’t want Hurd to fight. Shanahan wants hurd to bait opposing players into fighting.
And it makes sense. Success in that regard creates 15 yards of field position, and it can result in a key defensive player for the other team being sent to the locker room.