Jim Harbaugh wore his cleats to practice today. It was a wise choice.
The 49ers coach found himself having to move quickly to snuff out two dust ups, including one that resulted in Anquan Boldin, the coaches' choice for MVP last season, being sent off the field.
This type of practice had been brewing for a while. The 49ers had had four straight days of padded practice before working in shells yesterday. They were back in full pads today, and they had their first “live” tackling drill of the offseason, a couple of first-and-goal scenarios. There were several yelling matches and shoves throughout today's practice.
The undercard involved outside linebacker Chase Thomas and running back Jewel Hampton. After defensive end Lawrence Okoye blew up a running play, Hampton took exception to some extra shoving by Thomas, the right outside linebacker, and started to charge Thomas before he was held back and told to cool off. Harbaugh ran over to intervene.
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Then during a two-minute drill to end practice, quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw to Boldin on the left side of the formation. He went back in Boldin's direction on the right side for a second completion and cornerback Darryl Morris went to wrap him up.
Boldin evidently didn't like it. He tossed the ball at Morris and when Morris approached him he gave the young cornerback a fierce two-handed shot to the facemask. At that point Harbaugh literally threw his body between the combatants and sent Boldin off the field.
Harbaugh has done that in the past, sending receiver Brian Tyms to the showers early after he was too physical with a teammate and doing the same last year with safety C.J. Spillman after he got into a tussle with fellow safety Michael Thomas. Both of those incidents occurred during a late practice like this one, which began at 5 p.m.
Harbaugh doesn't like fighting. It runs counter to the protective family atmosphere he wants to build at 49ers headquarters. He's said in the past that his players should be protecting one another, not fighting or throwing each other to the ground. Harbaugh ended the practice shortly after the Boldin-Morris melee.