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Warrick Dunn tells Devonta Freeman not to take so many hits

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49ers RB Tevin Coleman spoke on Kyle Shanahan's creativity, saying it has grown since their time in Atlanta.

Former Falcons running back Warrick Dunn is now a minority owner of the Falcons, and he wants to make sure his team makes the most of its investment in running back Devonta Freeman.

Dunn told Freeman that he needs to protect himself by avoiding contact when he can, and thinking about being on the field for 16 games for years to come.

“A lot of times, these guys always want to prove that they’re tough or that they can get the tough yard, but sometimes you have to live for another down,” Dunn told ESPN. “My advice to Devonta was, ‘You have to learn how to protect yourself at the same time. You’re picking up tough yards, but you have to be smart and strategic about it.’ To be a better runner, it’s not always about, ‘Let me run over guys.’ It’s ‘How can I avoid the big hit so I can have longevity in this league?’ And I just try to encourage him to become a better overall runner.”

Freeman is listening and says Dunn has a good point.

“Warrick always tells me all the time -- you know he talks low -- but he tells me, ‘Hey, man, you’ve got do better. You can’t be taking all these hits, man. It’s all about longevity,’” Freeman said. “That’s what he always says to me, and I appreciate that. I really appreciate stuff like that.”

Last year Freeman managed to play just two games thanks to knee and groin injuries. This year Dunn and Freeman both hope he stays a lot healthier.