Chiefs and 49ers ramp up practice intensity as Super Bowl approaches

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have been getting a chippy in practice this week as kickoff for the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers approaches, culminating in a scuffle involving members of the offensive and defensive lines on Wednesday.

Left guard Trey Smith, who carries a reputation for having a mean streak on the field, laughed when he was asked whether he was the instigator. But he went on to say that everything was smoothed out before the end of practice.

In fact, several Chiefs said they prefer to see that kind of fight early in the week, provided they save some for game day.

“You know guys are into it,” Chiefs safety Justin Reid said. “You want that aggression to be there. It’s a lot easier to try, and as a coach you want to be holding guys back. When you’re trying to put intensity in guys, you can’t put in something that’s not there. So you want everyone to have that tenacity, that energy, that violence ready, and then just hold it back.”

GETTING SERIOUS

The 49ers had their most intense practice this week, according to a pool report, going an hour and 27 minutes.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said he was pleased with the effort.

“I think it’s been great,” he told the pool reporter. “The first two days (of Super Bowl week) are always a challenge. Yesterday was really good, today was even better. Having these two days in a row where we can get as close to our routine as possible is great.”

LAYING DOWN THE LAW

Patrick Mahomes may be the face of the Chiefs, and the leader of their locker room, but he usually isn’t the one getting on wide receivers when they drop a pass — they led the league in those this season — or commit a penalty or run the wrong route.

Instead, he sends Travis Kelce to deliver the message.

“I’ll play bad cop. It’s all right,” the Chiefs’ star tight end said. “I give the same energy to myself when I screw up.”

Receiver Rashee Rice, who set a slew of Chiefs rookie records this season, remembers more than once Kelce corralling him on the practice fields after a play went awry. But it didn’t always mean he was about to get a tongue-lashing.

“He’s not running over to me. I’m running over to him,” Rice said. “I’m all about learning from him. He just kind of tells me things, like where a defense is going to be coming from, or what to do if someone is here, you know?”

FALSE ALARM

Niners players had an early wake-up call — thanks to a false fire alarm at their hotel.

Shanahan said he and the other coaches were already up and working in the basement when the alarm went off at 6 a.m. and they didn’t hear it.

But once he saw his players later in the morning, he heard all about it.

“By the time I saw the players and asked them how their night was they were all complaining about the fire alarm and all having to go outside,” Shanahan said. “I didn’t realize how big a deal it was until I met them. I think it was a pain for them to get up at 6 and go outside.”

SPECIAL CONNECTIONS

This year’s Super Bowl holds a special meaning to Chiefs intern Jade Thomas, considering where the game is being played and the legacy her name bears. The public relations specialist is a graduate of UNLV and a Las Vegas native. She starred for the national powerhouse Centennial High School girls’ basketball team before playing for the Lady Rebels.

She is also the granddaughter of Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Emmitt Thomas, who played for the Chiefs from 1966-78. He played in two Super Bowls, including a win in 1970 over Minnesota, and coached from 1979 until he retired in 2018 after a nine-year stint as the Chiefs’ defensive backs coach.

“It’s awesome being back in Vegas, especially coming back in such a different perspective and position,” Jade Thomas said. “Being an intern in the NFL is amazing, but making it to the Super Bowl in my first year is another level.”

She said hearing stories from her grandfather and holding his championship ring has made it a dream.

“I’m very grateful to be a part of this staff and along for the ride,” Thomas said. “Among all the craziness, having my family here has been another blessing. It definitely brings me a sense of calmness to just hang out with them after a long and crazy day.”

PERFECT IN VEGAS

The Chiefs might feel especially at home this week given they are 4-0 at Allegiant Stadium.

“We love the atmosphere in Las Vegas,” Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones said. “It’s Las Vegas, right? I think Allegiant Stadium is one of the best stadiums in the NFL. They have bottle service in the stadium. There’s nothing like playing in Allegiant Stadium. They light the (Al Davis Memorial) Torch. We’re used to the crazy Raiders fans with the masks on and everything.”

The Chiefs and Raiders have an intense rivalry, which makes Kansas City’s digs unique. The Chiefs will use the Las Vegas locker room on game day and are practicing at the Raiders’ headquarters.

“Their facility is top of the line,” Chiefs right tackle Jawaan Taylor said, before admitting: “It’s a little weird sometimes seeing the (Raiders) logo every day.”

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AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow, AP Sports Writer Mark Anderson and AP freelancer W.G. Ramirez contributed to this report.

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