San Francisco 49ers rookie linebacker Fred Warner has agreed to document his first NFL training camp. Over the course of the month, Warner will share a first-person account of his experiences. Below is his second blog entry regarding the team's padded practices, his "days off" and his excitement for the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Head here to check out Warner's first post.
We’ve got a lot to catch up on. Let’s start with our first padded practice back on July 28. I wanted to show how physical of a player I really am. I wanted to write my own story right off the get-go. I made a big play in the backfield that set the tone in my mind. The offense called a running play to the left (my right). I was keying the running back, which in this case was Jeff Wilson.
Once Jeff took that step to my right, I began to take my lead steps. I owned the B-gap on that play. It was a toss play and my gap opened up. Jullian Taylor had knocked his guy way back and caused disruption. That forced Jeff to turn it upfield quicker than he wanted to. I was able to shoot through my gap and fit him up. I felt good about those first two padded practices.
Then we had a “day off” last Monday. I put that in quotes because even though we didn’t practice, I still spent most of the day at the team facility. Proper recovery techniques and getting treatment is a full-time job. I came in, got a massage, went in the ice tub, went in the hot tub, used the NormaTec boot and then got a little workout in with our strength staff. Then I found time for a few hours of relaxation at my apartment. I played PUBG with my guy Chanceller James before heading back to the team hotel.
The next four days of practice were grueling. Every day became more and more physical. I injured my chest during 1-on-1 drills on Wednesday. I went against Jeff on back-to-back reps. I beat him on the first. On the second, he got me and took me to the ground. I landed on my shoulder funny and my initial instinct was to come back at him. That blew over quickly, and we’re all good now. It’s just part of guys going 100 percent and trying to get better every day. Still, I had some pain in my chest from the fall. Luckily everything came back negative. Our training staff just told me to just rein it back for a few days.
I wore a blue non-contact jersey on Thursday. I was still able to participate during team periods, but I only played on pass plays. Most of you heard about what happened next. To be totally honest with you, when you’re in the moment, it’s hard to remember that you have a blue jersey on. You’re just out there playing ball. Jimmy (Garoppolo) threw a pass, I broke hard on where he was throwing it and right when I looked, I saw Juice (Kyle Juszczyk) catch it. Instincts kicked in and I lowered my shoulder a bit. I hit him in a bad spot where it knocked the wind out of him. I felt awful. I’d obviously never intend to hurt a teammate. It was a bang-bang play, and stuff like that can happen during training camp – especially with how physical our practices have been. It was a bad look, but I think everyone understood. I went over to him immediately and apologized. We’re good, but he definitely got the last laugh.
The coaches have a fun competition from each practice between the offense and defense. When the sides tie, there is a tiebreaker the next morning in team meeting. Our coaching staff has one player from offense and one player from defense compete in a free throw contest to determine who “won the day.” Both guys have 30 seconds to make as many as possible. So, naturally, it was me against Juice on that day. I went first and I bricked all of them. All of them. The only one I made was my last shot, but I was told I didn’t get it off in time. So I made zero and Juice only had to make one – which he did. It certainly wasn’t my finest moment as an athlete, but everyone got a good laugh out of it.
From there, the coaches decided to just take me out of team drills for a few days. They didn’t want me shying away from contact and creating bad habits. I sat out Friday’s practice all together, and then on Sunday I came back for individual drills only. I’ll tell you this, though. Sitting out sucks. Especially being a rookie, I need these reps more than anybody. Missing out on these live reps sucks. It’s testing my patience. But I just have to approach it as an opportunity to get mental reps. Then when I’m back, I know my chest will be fully recovered.
I can tell you that everyone has gotten to the point where we’re sick of hitting our own guys. I know I’m there, especially after everything that’s happened this week. I’m ready to go hit somebody in another jersey, and we finally get that chance on Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys. I was a Cowboys fan growing up so it’ll be fun to go against them. I’ll have some of my family at the game as well – my mom, dad and a few other relatives. I don’t know how much I’ll play, but I can’t wait. It would be great for us to start fast. Personally, I want to put some good stuff on tape in my first game at Levi’s® Stadium. I’ll see you there.