SANTA CLARA — The 49ers are not outright cancelling today’s practice like many other teams have done, instead downshifting to a non-contact walk-through while pro league counterparts protest for social equality after Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc.
The 49ers did not officially announce whether the Blake incident impacted their practice change, but definitely factoring in was the team’s physical state. A recovery day would be welcomed after a slew of injuries over the past 10 practices.
Their second-to-last practice of training camp was scheduled to start at 10:20 a.m. Because of the change, the media is banned from attending, although coach Kyle Shanahan and select players will be made available via video call afterward.
Several teams scuttled their Thursday practices, including the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Washington.
The 49ers have practiced 10 of the past 12 days leading up to their schedule season opener Sept. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium.
After Wednesday’s practice, free safety Jimmie Ward spoke about the Blake shooting, which happened in Ward’s native Wisconsin. His two youngest brothers live in Kenosha, which is along Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee.
“I’m sorry for what happened and I’m sorry for the victim’s family,” Ward said. “I just hope, going forward as a country, that things get better for us.”
Four years ago, Colin Kaepernick launched his pregame protests for social equality and police reform, and the 49ers’ organization supported his efforts. Team ownership matched Kaepernick’s $1 million pledge for social causes back then, and it donated another $1 million May 30 in the wake of George Flloyd’s death by Minneapolis police.
— Jed York (@JedYork) May 31, 2020
Defensive end Arik Armstead is leading the current 49ers’ outcry against social injustices. Last Friday, he announced that he would open each of his media sessions this seasons by discussing race and society issues to forge unity.
Wednesday night, Armstead tweeted that he was praying for Blake, who reportedly is paralyzed after being shot seven times by police who responded to a domestic disturbance, as captured by a witness’ viral video.
“Aren’t we all tired of seeing unarmed black people shot by police?” Armstead tweeted. “Even if you are on the other side aren’t you tired of having to make justifications for it and deal with civil unrest?”
Praying for Jacob Blake. Aren’t we all tired of seeing unarmed black people shot by police ? Even if you are on the other side aren’t you tired of having to make justifications for it and deal with civil unrest?
— Arik Armstead (@arikarmstead) August 26, 2020
Cornerback Richard Sherman, a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, endorsed Armstead and others to speak out on social issues.
“It’s time for everybody to speak up and put pressure on things they see is wrong,” Sherman said last week. “It’s been too long with everyone casting a blind eye.”
The 49ers are scheduled to close out their official “training camp” practices Friday with a rehearsal inside Levi’s Stadium.