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Ambulance takes 49ers linebacker Donavin Newsom to hospital after practice collision

SANTA CLARA — 49ers practice was paused for 15 minutes and eventually cancelled Tuesday after a frightening collision injured the head/neck area of rookie linebacker Donavin Newsom.

Newsom collided with safety Chanceller James on a pass play over the middle of the field, and immediately became motionless on the turf. The music stopped, teammates knelt to say prayers and an ambulance eventually showed up to take Newsome to the hospital.

The good news: Kyle Shanahan said Newsom regained feeling in his lower body and hands, and was able to open his eyes while he was still on the field. Newsom had already missed practice last Friday and Saturday because of a neck injury.

It was one of the more sobering scenes on a practice field many of us had ever seen. The only topic during Shanahan’s press conference was Newsom.

“It puts everything into perspective,” Shanahan said afterwards in the team auditorium.

James, the player who accidentally struck Newsom, was visibly upset after the play. Teammates Adrian Colbert and Eric Reid were consoling him. James has arguably been the hardest hitter in camp.

“Me and a bunch of other guys ran after him because we saw he was taking it tough,” Reid said. “We all have a conscience. We all feel terrible about it. (I told James) not to worry about it. Things happen in this game.”

Shanahan was asked if the Newsom injury will change the way he runs practice, if he’ll tone down any of the physicality. But the 49ers’ head coach viewed it more as a wrong place, wrong time sort of injury.

“I don’t think that play was from being too physical,” Shanahan said. “It’s getting hit at the exact spot at the right time. I think it was our own guys, too, from what I saw. It was two defensive players colliding with each other. You’ve got to practice football, but you’ve got to be as smart as you can, too. It’s something we work at, but no, that’s not going to change how we practice.”

Players left the practice field in silence. It was a scary reminder how dangerous this sport can be, even in safe practice settings.

“I heard it more than saw it,” Brian Hoyer said afterwards. “You never want to see that happen to anybody. Unfortunately, we play a collision sport. Things like that are really unpreventable. Two aggressive guys going to make a play.”

“I think it will be alright, but you never know,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got to all talk through it. I know the guys are praying for him.”

A 49ers spokesperson said the team has contacted Newsom’s family and representatives from the organization are with him at the hospital. We’ll have more updates as soon as they arrive.


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