The only certainty heading into an NFL season is that someone will get injured. Niner Noise looks at the five players whose injury would derail the San Francisco 49ers’ season.
Injuries. The only certainty in a game full of uncertainties. For all teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, injuries are the No. 1 obstacle to winning it all.
But not all injuries are equal. Apart from the length of an injury, there are several other factors that determine the impact of losing a player.
The first is team talent. Let’s take an example from last year. Two MVP candidate quarterbacks got injured last year. One was the Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz, and the other was the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. Now in the context of last season, you could argue that Wentz was as impactful as Rodgers was. To clarify, I’m not saying Wentz is a better QB than Rodgers. That’s heresy.
For the Eagles, they had very talented skill position players, as well as an elite defense. The Packers had no one. The Eagles managed to replace Wentz with the Super Bowl MVP, even though Nick Foles didn’t play like one during the regular season. The Packers had Brett Hundley. Clearly, the injury to Rodgers was far more impactful than Wentz’s.
Another key attribute to note is the position they play. Let’s compare Wentz’s injury to another player on his team. Jason Peters, star offensive tackle of the Eagles, tore his ACL in Week 7, causing him to miss the rest of the season. Despite missing more time, Wentz’s injury was considered more impactful than Peters’. The reason is position. What position you play is very important to determining your value. The QB will always be on top.
The final attribute is the replacement’s ability. There was an example of this just last year. Both Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks, got injured around midseason. To determine whose injury meant more, we have to look at their replacement. First, Richard Sherman, who was graded 82.7 by Pro Football Focus, was replaced by Byron Maxwell, who got a 84.0 grade. Sherman’s replacement was plus-1.3 better for the team. Kam Chancellor had a grade of 88.5, while his replacement, Bradley McDougald, was graded at 77.3. McDougald was minus-11.2 compared to Chancellor. With this data, clearly Chancellor’s injury was more impactful.
With that logic in mind, let’s proceed with the list. There may be a few surprises.