SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called off practice Thursday after losing two more key players this week to injuries.
Shanahan opted to hold a walkthrough instead of a full practice a day after a physical session with a roster with a number of players hurt.
“They went hard, as hard as they could go,” Shanahan said about Wednesday’s practice. “When the guys do that, even when they don’t have much left, I think it’s my responsibility to shut them down a little bit, protect them from themselves. I was really worried if we went and did the same thing today, we could have lost six more people.”
Shanahan has had to adjust his practice plans this summer because of the injuries. He had planned to do live tackling and more hitting than in the past to make up for the lack of preseason games but ultimately determined that would be too tough to do with only an 80-man roster.
Five of those roster spots are being used on players currently on injured lists. Several others are dealing with injuries, the latest being star fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who is week to week with a strained hamstring, and All-Pro tight end George Kittle, who left practice early Wednesday with a tight hamstring that is not believed to be serious.
The Niners are also without star edge rushers Nick Bosa (leg) and Dee Ford (calf), rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring), slot cornerback K’Waun Williams (calf), center Ben Garland (ankle), tight end Ross Dwelley (foot), and offensive lineman Ross Reynolds (bone bruise).
“There’s nothing I want to do more than practice because it’s my responsibility to prepare these guys for Week 1,” Shanahan said. “That’s the only way you can do it. You’re not going to be prepared for Week 1 if you’re not healthy. So, that’s kind of the dilemma we’re at every day right now. We made that decision just to walk through today because we thought that’d be best for the team and give us a chance to get the most out of tomorrow.”
Shanahan said he gave the players the option for the day off entirely if they wanted to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin by police.
Nine NFL teams canceled practice Thursday in response to the shooting, while games throughout the NBA, NHL, baseball, WNBA and MLS were postponed when players opted not to play.
“I usually follow the lead of our players on that,” Shanahan said. “If it was important, if they wanted to not have practice today, we definitely would have done that. No one brought that to my attention and I opened it up to all of them and that wasn’t what they wanted to do.”
Running back Raheem Mostert said Shanahan broached the subject Wednesday night and expressed gratitude for the open-door policy from Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and team CEO Jed York to discuss these issues.
The players have been involved in picking organizations to receive grants from the 49ers’ $1 million commitment to help address social injustice and are producing public service announcements about the importance of voting.
Mostert said players have watched what their counterparts in other leagues have done and didn’t rule out NFL players doing the same down the road.
“It may not be now, but there could be a plan,” he said. “I’m not promising anything. But there could be a plan as far as just standing up and doing what’s right. Because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Human life is the most important thing. We have to value that. There is no clear cut other way but to do the right things.”
NOTES: The team signed WRs Kevin White and River Cracraft. … WR Jaron Brown was released and DL Jonathan Kongbo was waived with an injury designation.
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