The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers took part in the first of three joint practices on Saturday. Both teams made their head coaches available for comments before the practice. Joe Flacco and former Raven, Anquan Boldin were made available also.
The joint practice is a new concept for the Ravens so they wanted to make sure that they rolled out the red carpet for their guests. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that the idea came from numerous conversations that he had with his brother Jim, the head coach of the 49ers.
“We appreciate it. [It’s] an exciting day. We appreciate the 49ers being here. It takes a lot to pack up a whole team and come all the way across the country in preseason. We recognize that and it means a lot for them to be here. We’re going to try and make the most of it. We just told our teams – we both said the same thing, essentially – ‘We’re here to get better.’ Three days from now we want to be a better football team, and we can’t think of a better team to accomplish that feat [with] than the San Francisco 49ers. We’ll go against some different schemes that we don’t usually see – that’s a big plus for us – and we’re really ready to go to work.”
John Harbaugh relishes this opportunity because he knows that his players are ready to go against someone other than their teammates. The idea that his teams will get to face an opponent that doesn’t know their tendencies and offers a new scheme that they haven’t seen is an advantage. He believes that it will help his team get better.
Joe Flacco felt the same way. “It definitely makes things a little different. I’m sure when we first go out there, we’ll be feeling each other out a little bit and seeing what kind of tempo there is and all that.”
Jim Harbaugh shared the same feelings and is very excited to get the chance to practice with the Ravens. “What a pleasure it is to be here,” Jim said in his opening remarks. “I always feel like you can make a lot of progress as a football team between the first game and the second game.” He continued; “Couldn’t have a better place to do it. Tremendous facility. Appreciate the Ravens and it looks like they’ve gone through a lot of expense and effort to make sure that we have a first-class environment here. So we really appreciate that. Look forward to great work. Look forward to great practice.”
Both coaches had to remove players from practices last week due to fighting. The 49ers and Ravens have some feisty players that get after it. Tramaine Brock and Steve Smith are two that are sure to mix it up during one on ones. John Harbaugh was asked about fighting and how he will handle the situation, if it should arise.
“Our policy is case-by-case. We go case-by-case. It depends on the circumstances of the situation. We’ve had guys that have been kicked out of practice for other things, and that, too, and we’ve had guys not. Mainly, our idea is to practice fast. There may be a skirmish out here, but we’re going to get back on the ball and get a play running because we really don’t have any time to be doing anything besides working.”
Anquan Boldin is another player that practices as hard as anyone. John Harbaugh said that his defensive backs will benefit from the experience of going against Boldin in practice. “Anquan is one of the great artists of getting open in tight space, and we have to learn how to play that. It’s going to be great for us.”
Harbaugh said that the Ravens didn’t want to see him go and explained that he wanted to keep Boldin but their hand was forced. “We tried like crazy to keep Anquan. That was something that people don’t realize, is we fought like crazy, but we were fighting against a number. Those numbers are things that sometimes they’re not as pliable as you’d like them to be, and that really was our issue on that one. We certainly didn’t want to trade Anquan Boldin, who was one of, if not our best, player.”
Boldin is glad to be back in Baltimore for these three days. He said that he got to see some of his neighbors and his son got to see some of his old friends. Boldin built a lot of relationships with teammates and with the Baltimore community. He still supports some of the charity work that his former teammates do. During the off season, he has worked out with Torrey Smith in Florida.
The trade was something that shocked Boldin. He found out while he was doing missionary work in Africa. He holds no hard feelings towards the Ravens and understands that it is the business side of football.
The Ravens and 49ers are two physical teams. The goal is to stay healthy and get better from their time going against each other. Both coaches have particular things that they want to work on and will provide each other with the looks that they need to see. Today’s practice was in full gear and the next two practices will be on a play it by ear basis.
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