Injuries are beginning to pile up for the 49ers as they head into the regular season. Specifically, a pattern of hamstring injuries has emerged.
In the NFL, one of the most stressful times of the year comes before the regular season even begins. For several weeks, members of the 49ers Faithful hold their breath, hoping the 49ers stay as healthy as possible as they prepare for their first regular season game. For the Niners, this annual process is starting to look more worrisome.
On what was supposed to be a light day of practice after their first preseason victory, San Francisco 49ers starting free safety Jimmie Ward will miss “some time” after suffering a “pretty bad hamstring injury,” as defined by head coach Kyle Shanahan. If the former first-round pick is unable to play when the season begins, who will start at free safety opposite second-year strong safety Talanoa Hufanga?
Luckily for the Niners, their first two regular-season opponents are both non-playoff teams that are currently in the rebuilding process: the Chicago Bears and the Seattle Seahawks. Given the talent on the Niners’ roster, a loss in one of their first two games — provided the remainder of the team is relatively healthy — would be both unexpected and problematic.
Ward, who was recently voted the 96th best player in the NFL, is the fifth 49ers player to suffer a hamstring injury during Niners’ training camp or the preseason. The other injury victims include running back Elijah Mitchell, offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill, cornerback Charvarius Ward and fellow CB Emmanuel Moseley. While the severity level differs for each individual, the matter is still a concerning pattern the team will need to address:
#49ers HC Kyle Shanahan clearly agitated by recent run of soft-tissue injuries. He called it "bothersome" and identified that they all seem to be happening after days off. "I think our biggest challenge has been these off days and how to come back from them,” Shanahan said. https://t.co/8serCCvRZd — Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) August 15, 2022
Should the 49ers Sign a Replacement for Jimmie Ward?
The red-and-gold have yet to play their second preseason game — an away matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Yet, their defensive back room is getting thinner by the day, following defensive back Dontae Johnson’s rib cartilage fracture in the preseason opener and CB Darqueze Dennard’s surprising release. If Ward’s recovery extends into the regular season, he will likely be replaced by either career-backup safety Tarvarius Moore, who filled in as the 49ers’ starting free safety in practice, or S George Odum, who was signed this offseason primarily for his ability to play on special teams.
On the positive side, none of the recent injuries should be season-ending, and will hopefully be resolved in a matter of weeks, which is not incredibly troubling, since the team’s first regular season game is more than three weeks away. However, the team’s pattern of sustaining hamstring injuries — or injuries in general — during practice is far from ideal.
It isn’t time to panic about the team’s durability quite yet. However, fans have grown tired of the 49ers’ seemingly endless injury problem, and want no part of a repeat of the 2020 season, when it seemed like most of the roster ended the year on the injured reserve list.
For now, the San Francisco 49ers’ injury problem is merely a situation to monitor. And for the healthy players on the roster bubble — or any additional players signed by the team, should Shanahan and general manager John Lynch choose to add outside reinforcements — it provides additional opportunity to earn one of the final spots on what is arguably one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NFL.