The San Francisco 49ers have been dealing with a swarm of injuries, big and small, since the start of training camp. And head coach Kyle Shanahan has a humorous solution.
Well, sort of.
“Oh yeah you can go through each one,” Shanahan said. “[Tight end George] Kittle falling on his arm awkwardly and separating his shoulder, that could be prevented by not having him run the route. Guys getting concussions in games could be prevented from them not tackling people I guess.”
Kittle suffered a separated shoulder during the Niners’ 24-21 preseason debut against the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday. The good news was that there isn’t any structural damage, and the hope is Kittle will be available for Week 1 of the regular season. Same with running back Matt Breida, who also suffered a shoulder injury during the contest.
The Niners were forced to deal with a number of injuries during their exhibition opener. In addition to Kittle and Breida, defensive end Solomon Thomas and offensive lineman Garry Gilliam suffered concussions.
“Soft tissue injuries, yeah they can be prevented by having them not doing anything and sit there and just not get hurt and then it will happen in Week 1, to me” Shanahan continued. “It’s just part of it. I think we are pretty smart with what we do.
“There’s a fine line, a very fine line. If a player is complaining about being tight, we can sit there and shut him down and then every single person who ever complains about being tight, you can shut down and then ask a group of 90 people in training camp to raise their hands on who’s tight, 90 people will raise their hand. The last thing I want to do is a player who knows it’s tighter than usual and he’s about to do something, to go in.”
Shanahan’s responses basically highlight an inevitable factor for every NFL team — injuries can and will happen. Better teams are prepared for them with adequate depth.
The 49ers are being tested here right now, which is a good thing leading up to the regular season.
Right now, however, San Francisco’s training camp injury report has grown pretty long:
- TE George Kittle (shoulder)
- RB Matt Breida (shoulder)
- DT Arik Armstead (hamstring)
- RB Jerick McKinnon (calf)
- CB K’Waun Williams (ankle)
- LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring)
- OT Garry Gilliam (concussion)
- DE Solomon Thomas (concussion)
- LB Eli Harold (knee)
- EDGE Jeremiah Attaochu (groin)
- WR Max McCaffrey (foot)
- TE Cole Wick (knee)
- LB Brock Coyle (hip)
- LB Fred Warner (chest)
The good news is none of the aforementioned injuries are seen as long term, meaning most — if not all — players should be able to return by Week 1 this September.
In the meantime, Shanahan and Co. will hand off reps to the next player down the depth chart, which can have its merits. A year ago, then-rookie defensive back Adrian Colbert ended up getting starts in place of injured safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.
That worked out well for San Francisco. Probably better than Shanahan’s half-joking idea of simply not playing the game at all.