SANTA CLARA — Day 6 was by far the most physical day of 49ers training camp, and Kyle Shanahan wanted it just that way.
Undrafted safeties Lorenzo Jerome and Chanceller James, trying to prove themselves, were leveling ball carriers to the turf. Vance McDonald rammed through Ahkello Witherspoon near the goal line. Eric Reid returned from his ankle injury and was flying around. The cracking of pads was happening on nearly every play
“I want them to turn it up a little bit,” Shanahan said minutes after practice. “I was trying to get the idea of how we want to practice — how to be physical but still not take people to the ground. I thought they did a better job of that today.”
One reason why this 49ers training camp has a different feel to it: weight loss. Players have said shedding pounds has given the team more endurance. Shanahan and John Lynch required several key members of the team to come back weighing as light as they ever have in the NFL. Arik Armstead lost 15 pounds, Aaron Lynch shed 25, Carlos Hyde got as low as 224 pounds. Gargantuan right tackle Trent Brown got in on the action. Even a seasoned pro like Ahmad Brooks was asked to drop five pounds.
Those who have been around the 49ers organization for a couple seasons have noticed a dramatic change. Chip Kelly’s system was fast, but he didn’t require the players to be in shape quite like this.
“I feel like overall, endurance-wise, our team is at a level we haven’t been at,” McDonald said. “They want you to be able to look the same on the 75th play as you do on the first play. (And) In terms of just intensity, that’s going to come from guys being able to go harder and longer. Like even there at the end of practice, we we’re still banging and it was well into it.”
The trickle down impact of a more explosive football team is a ratcheted up practice. McDonald said Shanahan has done a solid job of making training camp feel more like games. In the…