Fights break out early and often during Broncos-49ers joint practice

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Menelik Watson emerged from the scrum with a look of fury on his face and a teammate on his back.

Tight end Austin Traylor wrapped both of his arms around the Broncos’ 6-foot-5, 315-pound left tackle Thursday morning, an attempt to cool some of the tempers that escalated during multiple fights that erupted in second of two joint practices between the Broncos and 49ers.

“It’s football. It’s a physical sport, so some of that stuff’s gonna happen,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. “Both sides kind of caught their composure and were able to finish practice. So that’s what’s important there.”

Three fights broke out during the practice, two between the Denver offense and San Francisco defense and one between the opposite units. Two altercations began when scuffles between offensive and defensive lineman carried past the whistle. Another began after what Broncos cornerback Chris Harris called a “dirty” hit by 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon on cornerback Aqib Talib following an interception by Justin Simmons.

“Just a little wrestling match. It wasn’t nothing major, man,” said Talib, downplaying the fracas. “I’ve been in real fights. That was nothing.”

Joseph said the Broncos are still trying to instill an identity that walks the line between toughness and discipline.

“We want to be smart bullies,” he said. “We don’t want to be idiots. We don’t want to get penalties that cost us big plays in a game.”