San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan has never allowed his players to tackle in training camp, believing that the risk of injury outweighs any benefit. But this year may be different.
Shanahan said that with no preseason games, he may have to allow tackling in camp because otherwise it’s tough to evaluate positions like running backs and kick returners.
“It’s hard to know how good a guy’s going to break tackles until you actually see guys try to tackle,” Shanahan said. “A punt returner, things like that, I think, just over the last couple of days talking, those will be a little harder to evaluate. We haven’t decided exactly how we’re going to do it, but we’re going to have to see that if we can’t make a decision. There will be certain things in practice to where there could possibly be tackling. I’ve never done tackling before, I’ve never planned on it. I also don’t think you have to have NFL players just tackle to get them ready to tackle. There’s a certain way where you practice that our guys know how to hit and play low and pop a guy without bringing them to the ground. Bringing guys to the ground, to me, is where guys get hurt and you want to only do that on game day, but there might be certain drills and stuff you have to set up. There’s going to be a few guys on this team where gosh, it’s neck and neck and it’s got to play out and as a coaching staff, we’re going to have to figure out how to put those guys in that position, which will be new for us.”
Preparing for a regular season without a preseason will be a new experience for NFL coaches, and they’ll have to innovate. Shanahan is ready to make some changes.