Why 49ers' joint training camp practices with Broncos are so critical

Matt Maiocco
NBC Sports BayArea

The 49ers are experiencing a day off in Denver on Thursday before taking part in their two biggest practices of training camp.

After 13 days of working against one another, the 49ers will get a fresh look during practices Friday and Saturday against the Denver Broncos at their training facility in Englewood, Colorado.

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Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will try to bounce back after his roughest practice as a member of the 49ers. On Wednesday, Garoppolo threw interceptions on five consecutive pass attempts.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he has not decided how much Garoppolo will play when the 49ers and Broncos meet Monday night in a preseason game.

"I haven't decided, yet," Shanahan said. "That depends on how the practices go this week. That's something I'll probably decide on Sunday."

In addition to providing the coaching staffs and personnel departments a chance to evaluate their own roster against players from another team, the practices are an opportunity for bubble players to impress another organization. There are also the possibility of trades as the teams assess the strengths and weaknesses of their rosters.

"I think you should always use these opportunities as an advantage to learn other teams and things like that as much as you can," Shanahan said. "Not just knowing each other, but also scouts, everyone. It helps you for trade possibilities.

"But it also helps you (because) each year, guys eventually become free agents and sometimes it's nice to see how guys work and things like that as opposed to watching guys on game tape. It's nice to see how guys practice and things like that."

There are coaches on both teams that already are familiar with many players on the team's roster.

First-year 49ers defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Joe Woods spent the past two seasons as Broncos defensive coordinator. He was Denver's defensive backs coach the two years prior to his promotion.

And Rich Scangarello, whom first-year Broncos coach Vic Fangio hired as his offensive coordinator, spent the past two seasons on Shanahan's staff as quarterbacks coach.

"It's always good to be around other people in this league, because it's a pretty close fraternity and usually your paths cross more than once," Shanahan said.

Shanahan and Fangio, along with the coordinators for both teams, have communicated to work out the scripts for the practice sessions. One element of the joint practices that might not meet Shanahan's approval, however, is the soundtrack.

Fangio did away with music playing during practice at Broncos practices because, he said, it does not replicate a game environment and he felt it interferes with his ability to relay coaching points to his players.

Shanahan, however, is a proponent of music to keep the practices upbeat.

When asked if there will be music during the joint practices, Shanahan answered, "I haven't asked that yet. I'm really hoping so, but I have a feeling there won't be."

Shanahan was correct.

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He acknowledged that Fangio gets the final say because of his homefield advantage.

"Yeah, it's his spot," Shanahan said. "So, yeah, he's got it."

Why 49ers' joint training camp practices with Broncos are so critical originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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