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49ers' Warner draws flag for high practice hit on Austin

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If it were a game, 49ers linebacker Fred Warner would have been penalized. He might have even been ejected for targeting.

Receiver Tavon Austin, who was the intended target of Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass over the middle, ended up receiving a hit to the helmet from Warner’s forearm and shoulder.

It was a scary moment during the 49ers’ fourth practice of training camp Tuesday.

Austin went to the ground, but he got up quickly and did not make a big deal out of the hit, which seemed to cross the line. He simply went back to the offensive huddle.

“I’m going to be very, very honest,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh answered when asked of Warner’s hit. “Kyle (Shanahan) and myself, all of us, were very, very stern with protecting one another and taking care of the team, so my first reaction when he hits his teammate was, ‘Ah, is the offensive player all right?’ You don’t want to see it in practice.”

The 49ers held their second padded practice of training camp, and Warner’s hit was one of the few times a 49ers offensive player was taken to the ground. It was certainly the most-dangerous contact since the opening of camp.

At a position where the 49ers already have incurred a series of injuries, the last thing they wanted was for a veteran wide receiver to be subject to an unnecessary hit.

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With the NFL canceling the preseason, the first live hitting and tackling most teams will do this season will be when the regular season begins.


This is the longest Warner and his defensive teammates have probably ever gone without being free to dole out hard hits on an opponent.

“I wish we had preseason games so we could get it in there, but honest, my reaction goes more to the offense, whether or not the person he hit was all right,” Saleh said. “I’m not much fun on that one. I’m not going to lie to you.”