NFL training camps are into their second week and players are beginning to tire of pounding on each other and are ready to face some other competition. Emotions run high as training camp ends, players are fighting for final spots and trying to mentally transform into game day dogs.
Over the weekend, there were dustups at both the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants camps. Nothing too serious, just players pushing and shoving one another.
That wasn’t the case at San Francisco 49ers camp on Tuesday, as former All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner has been doing his best to specifically bother rising wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. It’s been so bad that “BA” called Warner “annoying.” Warner is adamant that there’s a method to his madness.
Earlier in camp Warner had this to say about the talented former Arizona State standout.
“Specifically with Brandon, I chose him out. And I’ll say why. I think he’s ready to make that next step and play at an elite level. Ever since he got here I’ve gotten after him a little bit going around the locker room and around the building because I know he has so much more in him. And I know if I nag him a little bit, he’s going to get tired of that and kind of hold his own.”
Fred Warner explained why he’s always chirping Brandon Aiyuk, who called him “annoying” 😂 pic.twitter.com/6cYSgS3trc
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) July 30, 2022
Warner did have some positive things to say about Aiyuk at the end.
“He works super hard. He’s starting to really get into that mindset that he’s the guy, and he’s capable. I’m just trying to get the best out of him. That’s it.”
Fast forward to Tuesday …
Aiyuk Takes Exception To Warner’s Antics
On Tuesday the ribbing reached a boiling point, with Aiyuk and Warner engaging in fisticuffs and many of their teammates joining in the madness. In fact the two Niners players came to blows twice in practice. Things got chippy when Warner reportedly took an unnecessary cheap shot at wide receiver Marcus Johnson, shortly after being extra physical with Aiyuk on a catch a few plays earlier. That’s when it all went left with the two and the rest of the team.
Wow! Brandon Aiyuk just squared up to fight Fred Warner again and Kyle Shanahan has paused practice. Was ready to throw fists before the dog pile crashed on him
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) August 2, 2022
The fight even prompted an 11-year-old nearby to say this:
“You guys are teammates.”
That was light compared to the “choice words,” head coach Kyle Shanahan spewed as he paused practice. Shanny’s frustration comes from possible injury to players and just keeping the intensity in practice but not letting it boil over into an all-out brawl of sorts. And especially when the antagonists are two vital pieces like Aiyuk and Warner.
Warner And Aiyuk Are Key Pieces With Trey Lance Now Under Center
The Niners were one drive from the Super Bowl after entering the playoffs as the sixth seed in 2021. The play of both Warner (137 tackles) and Aiyuk (56 receptions, 826 yards and five touchdowns) played a huge role in their success. Aiyuk will need to be a reliable target for new starting QB Trey Lance. While Warner needs to anchor a defense that will have to carry the offense at times as Lance gets comfortable in his starting role.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 2, 2022
Could you imagine what rising defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans was thinking seeing the quarterback of his defense mixing it up and risking injury? The silver lining is that Aiyuk stood his ground, so now maybe Warner will chill out on the antics. His psychology degree has been revoked.