49ers' most impactful injuries in nightmare start to season


The 49ers have been decimated by injuries this season. Matt Maiocco ranks the 10 most impactful blows.

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When the NFL released its 2020 schedule in the spring, the first thing that jumped out to 49ers fans was 5-0.

Worst-case scenario? Four-and-one.

Certainly not 3-2.

That would have been a disaster with the remainder of the 49ers’ schedule comprised of just one game that could have been considered a gimme – Week 14 against Washington.

But here we are after five weeks, and the 49ers sit, slumped over, with a 2-3 record.

Injuries are a part of the game, of course. But for the 49ers, injuries have left them out of the game and currently out of the race in the NFC West.

Here is a ranking of the team’s 10 most-impactful injuries. And, obviously, the fact there are 10 injuries to rank says everything about how and why this season is already teetering on the edge.


Injury: Torn ACL, right knee

Status: Sustained injury while working on a side field on the first day of training camp. He underwent season-ending surgery and should be available for the opening of the 2021 season.

Impact: The 49ers were looking forward to getting Hurd on the field after he missed all of his rookie season with a back injury. Hurd’s size and versatility are his best attributes. Think about his impact in the red zone with his ability to box out defenders. Or think about how the 49ers could have used him in no-huddle situations when defenses are unable to substitute and make personnel adjustments. Last season, the 49ers ended the season with only three receivers – Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne – earning the trust of the coaching staff. That’s where the 49ers are again this year, with Brandon Aiyuk taking over for Sanders. Hurd could have made a contribution while also limiting the numbers of snaps of the other receivers to keep them fresh and make them more effective.


Injury: Concussion

Status: He was diagnosed with a concussion just before halftime of the 49ers’ Week 3 game. He remained in the concussion protocol and missed the next two games. The 49ers are optimistic he will soon be available to resume football activity.

Impact: Moseley and Sherman were the 49ers’ starting cornerbacks for Week 1. Sherman has not played since that game. And Moseley has not been on the field since the first play of the second quarter of the 49ers’ Week 3 against the New York Giants. Moseley collided with teammate Jaquiski Tartt while making a tackle of quarterback Daniel Jones. Jason Verrett has generally played at a high level since stepping into the lineup, but the 49ers simply do not have another cornerback capable of compensating for the loss of Moseley.


Injury: Torn MCL, left knee

Status: Sustained his injury in Week 3. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Impact: Reed looked like a starting tight end during his first 2 ½ games before the injury. He had 11 catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Reed produced while George Kittle was out for two games with a knee injury. The possibility of getting Reed and Kittle on the field together could have given Shanahan some nice options to exploit coverage mismatches. Now, the 49ers will have to wait until the second half of the season to experiment with how to use those players in tandem.


Injury: Torn ACL, right knee

Status: He sustained injury last November in the game against Seattle. His return is getting closer. Blair is eligible to return off the physically-unable-to-perform list after this upcoming game.

Impact: In a perfect world, Bosa and Ford are the team’s nickel edge rushers. Then, when one needs a break, here comes Blair. Without Bosa and Ford, Blair would have been the team’s top outside pass rusher. The 49ers hoped Blair would be available for Week 1. But, perhaps, because they felt they had good depth, they decided to play it safe and keep him on PUP. That makes him ineligible for the first six games. Currently, the 49ers’ top edge rushers are Kerry Hyder and Dion Jordan. Blair is expected back soon, but his absence in the first six games has been felt on a defense that has been unable to generate consistent pressure.


Injury: Torn ACL, left knee

Status: Sustained season-ending injury in Week 2. He is scheduled for free agency. He should be ready for the 2021 season for whichever team signs him.

Impact: Thomas started the first two games of the season and was expected to be a key rotational player on the team’s defensive line. He never came close to living up to the expectation that comes with being the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. But in the final year of his original four-year contract, there was a hope he would provide a boost to the team’s inside pass rush. The 49ers need to find more production on their interior after trading away DeForest Buckner in the offseason. The loss of Thomas was a significant hit to the depth on the D-line.


Injury: ACL sprain, right knee

Status: Sustained injury in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ Week 4 loss. He was placed on injured reserve, which requires at least a three-week absence.

Impact: Williams is among the best nickel backs in the league. It is a highly specialized position, and few do it better. Williams has the ability to play close to the line of scrimmage, cover slot receivers and, most importantly, be a reliable tackler. When Williams is not on the field, this spot goes from being a strength of the defense to a major weakness. The nickel back position is on the field for approximately two-third of defensive snaps, and Williams is irreplaceable.



Injury: High right ankle sprain

Status: Sustained injury in first half of Week 2 game. He was sidelined for the second half of that game and the next two games. He returned for Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins, did not look good and was benched at halftime.

Impact: Yes, Garoppolo missed only two games, and the 49ers went 1-1 without him. The impact of the injury continues to linger. There is no question he is the team’s best quarterback. But it did not help the team to have him on the field for the embarrassing Week 5 loss to the Dolphins. Garoppolo got off to a good statistical start this season before he threw two ugly interceptions in the final two minutes of the first half of Sunday’s game. The 49ers need Garoppolo to play at a high level. And he will not be able to play up to his expectation until he is fully recovered.



Injury: Back

Status: Has not played since Week 1. He was placed on injured reserve, and there is reason for concern he will be out of action for a long time.

Impact: The injury to Bosa was brutal. But it could have been minimized if Ford were healthy and playing to a level at which 10-or-more sacks would have been fully expected. Ford entered this season with high expectations. He was feeling good physically after playing last season on a bum knee. He underwent offseason surgery. Ford was geared up for a big season. Then, his neck acted up on him after the team’s Week 1 loss. Later, the condition was identified as a back issue. Because of the delicate nature of backs, there is no telling when or if Ford will put on a 49ers uniform again.




Injury: Calf

Status: Placed on injured reserve after Week 1. Team does not expect him to be available this week against the L.A. Rams.

Impact: This was the first of what would turn into a string of injuries to the team’s cornerbacks. (The injuries to Ahkello Witherspoon and Dontae Johnson do not even rank in the top 10, by the way.) Sherman’s impact goes far beyond what he does on the field. Losing the NFL All-Decade player weakens the 49ers in so many ways, including in the areas of leadership and having a coach on the field.


Injury: Torn ACL, left knee

Status: Underwent season-ending surgery after Week 2 injury. Expected to be ready for 2021 season.

Impact: Aside from quarterback, there is no more impactful position in football than edge rusher. Bosa was among the best in the league. His play as a rookie helped vault the 49ers to the top of the class in the NFC. When this season began, Bosa was considered a legitimate NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate. His ability to play the run, as well as supply constant pressure on quarterbacks, made the jobs easier for all of the 10 other players on the 49ers’ defense. There is no way the 49ers could ever replace him.

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