Former Eagles defender says 49ers’ practices are ‘more demanding’

Javon Hargrave of the San Francisco 49ers runs onto the field during player introductions before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Levi’s Stadium on December 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California.

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It takes a lot of hard work to get the top seed in the NFC and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs, but according to 49ers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, the Niners put in more of that work than Philadelphia does. 

Speaking with fellow defensive lineman Arik Armstead on a livestream Sunday, Hargrave said the biggest difference between the San Francisco and Philadelphia teams is that the Niners’ practices are much more intense. Hargrave joined the Niners in the offseason after spending the last three years with the Eagles.

“I can say it’s extremely hard, the practices… More demanding,” Hargrave said. He compared the difference to the reputations of two basketball teams: “Over here, it’s the Miami Heat, over there it’s Golden State, because it’s more chill, more relaxed, you’re chilling. Over here, nah. It’s work every day. Every day you’re about to get it. I feel like Kyle [Shanahan] is Pat Riley. You know what you’re getting over here. Everybody can’t make it over here.”


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It’s true that the Heat have a reputation for intense workouts that don’t go easy on superstars and a strong franchise culture. It’s also true that the Warriors appear more lax about enforcing conditioning standards — although the most famous recent story about workouts under Steve Kerr came when the Golden State coach told future No.1-overall pick Anthony Edwards that he wasn’t working hard enough, which ultimately motivated the now-Timberwolves All-Star.

Armstead replied that practices used to be even harder when Shanahan first arrived and was just establishing the culture that the Niners have today. Hargrave replied with a blunt, “I believe it.”

“When I first got here, I was looking at this kinda crazy. Some of the stuff we was doing, I can’t believe y’all doing all this right now,” Hargrave added. “A war every day. You don’t understand it until you’re really in it though. It’s definitely a little different from that standpoint.”

Last season, the difference between the Eagles and the Niners was a healthy starting quarterback, the lack of which prevented San Francisco from making the Super Bowl. This season, Hargrave and the Niners will hope this now-public gap in practice intensity will be the difference that not only brings them to that championship game, but also brings home a Lombardi Trophy.


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