SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) After spending nearly two weeks only lining up against teammates, the San Francisco 49ers are looking forward to the opportunity to hit someone else for a change.
The Niners will hold a joint practice on Friday with the Houston Texans before the two teams open the exhibition season two days later at Levi's Stadium.
While these sessions often come with increased intensity and occasional fights, 49ers coach Chip Kelly said he does not believe his players will cross any lines.
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''They understand that you have to play with emotion, not let emotion play with you,'' Kelly said. ''It's the same rules that you have in a game. If you get in a fight in a game, you're not going to be around. So, it's the same thing. We're trying to get a good quality practice. We're not trying to turn it into a WWE wrestling match.''
That has not always been the case. Two years ago, the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys got into a few scuffles in a joint practice in Oxnard that spilled over into the fans on the side of the field. One Raiders fan even tried to hit a Dallas defender with a replica helmet.
Niners rookie guard Joshua Garnett said it's important to strike a balance between being aggressive and physical, while staying under control.
''You hope people are not too sensitive,'' he said. ''You're going to go after them and they're going to go after you. You want to be the guy dealing the blow and not be that guy who gets caught not going harder than your opponent. You always want to be that guy setting the tempo but keep it under control and play with poise and not get out of control with your emotions.''
Kelly is a proponent of joint practices, having done them a few times during his tenure in Philadelphia. The 49ers will hold another joint practice next week in Denver before taking on the Broncos in their second exhibition game.
''I think it's always good,'' Kelly said. ''It's a great way to gauge yourself. I've done it in the past a couple times with the Patriots and once with the Ravens. We thought it was quality work in the three years that we did it.''
The sessions require some pre-planning with head coaches coordinating schedules and offensive and defensive coordinators trading ideas and scripts to make sure the practices go as smoothly as possible.
Kelly said he has spent a lot of time talking to Texans coach Bill O'Brien about how the sessions will go. The coordinators for both teams also have been involved, with Niners offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins trading ideas with Texans defensive head Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil doing the same with Houston offensive coordinator George Godsey.
O'Neil said he and Godsey have talked about whether there are any different looks they would like to see Friday in practice that they aren't able to see as much when they go up against their own teams.
''For us defensively, it's going to be huge just from a player evaluation standpoint and then it's a totally different offensive scheme,'' O'Neil said. ''It'll be a lot more two-back formations, stuff we need to see to get ready for the season. So, it'll be a big test for our defense.''
NOTES: QB Colin Kaepernick only took mental reps at practice Thursday in what the team described as a ''planned'' rest day. … DL Arik Armstead returned to team drills after sitting out earlier this week.
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