49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wants to reduce or eliminate preseason games


Very few men who will be members of the San Francisco 49ers will take the field for the team on Saturday night in the exhibition opener at Levi’s Stadium.

It’s preseason game No. 1, and the only significant things that could occur are negative in nature. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has not missed a practice this summer after returning from ACL surgery that cut short his 2018 season, will be among a large group of 49ers players who will not see any game action. Some will get the night off as a precaution. Others will sit out due to injuries. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan said his preference is to see the NFL’s exhibition season get reduced -- or eliminated altogether.

“You absolutely don’t need four preseason games,” Shanahan said. “I’d rather have zero than four. Preferably, I’d like two. One to evaluate the people trying to make the team and then just one to knock a little rust off.”

The 49ers have gone through 11 training camp practices, during which time the coaching staff and personnel department had ample opportunity to size up the team’s 90-man roster. Next week, the 49ers will have their biggest two days of camp when they have a practice against the Denver Broncos in Englewood, Colo.

In comparing the importance of those two joint practices against the exhibition games, Shanahan said he places a lot more value in the practices.

“A ton more value,” he said after concluding a two-hour practice in Santa Clara on Thursday. “I put more value into what we did today.”

Shanahan experienced a rough week at practice with rookie defensive end Nick Bosa and cornerback Jason Verrett narrowly avoiding disastrous ankle injuries. Both players are out for the remainder of the exhibition season. The club hopes both will be available for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Shanahan was not happy with Wednesday’s practice, which he considered sloppy because too many players were knocked to the ground, leading to injuries. But he also realizes there is a greater risk of injury in such a highly competitive environment with jobs on the line.

[RELATED: Ankle sprain to keep Bosa out at least for preseason]

“You keep showing guys you want guys to compete, you want guys to do things, but you’ve got to really not let it get carried away, because when guys are trying to make the team, they’re trying to compete,” Shanahan said. “If they’re not in a position to thud someone up and be square on someone or not bring their legs with them, it’s not worth it. You can prove that some other time, but it’s not worth proving it in practice.”

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