San Francisco 49ers: 5 biggest injury risks in 2021

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

The 49ers are hoping they come nowhere close to suffering the kind of injury attrition they endured in 2020, but these five players are still big risks.

No other team endured more injuries in 2020 than the San Francisco 49ers.

That’s not just hyperbole.

Football Outsiders’ adjusted-games lost metric painted a picture of just how bad things were for the Niners last season. By measuring the number of quarters each player missed, not just whole games themselves, it’s possible to get an even bleaker picture.

San Francisco had an AGL number of 166.6, by far the worst in the NFL. The next closest team was the New England Patriots at 134.8, while the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an AGL of just 30.6.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, EDGE Nick Bosa, tight end George Kittle and cornerback Richard Sherman were just some of the big-name players the 49ers lost for sizable chunks of the year, and the multitude of injuries forced head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to rethink how they went about constructing their roster entering 2021.

Despite the flurry of offseason moves, though, there are still a number of players who carry significant injury risks this year.

Particularly these five.

49ers Injury Risk No. 5: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

Every other year, it appears as if Garoppolo suffers some kind of serious injury.

In 2016, it was a separated shoulder with the Patriots. In 2018, it was a torn ACL in Week 3. Then multiple high-ankle sprains in 2020 limited Jimmy G to just six games played, ultimately convincing Shanahan and Lynch they needed to act aggressively and trade up in this year’s NFL Draft to grab a new quarterback, Trey Lance.

Garoppolo is still pegged to start this season, though, while Lance develops. But that doesn’t entirely remove the chance Garoppolo suffers yet another key injury.

According to Sports Injury Predictor, there’s a 32-percent chance Garoppolo suffers an injury that forces him out for at least two quarters, which is tied for seventh most among all signal-callers listed. Additionally, the prediction states Jimmy G will miss 1.2 games this year.

Reason enough to speculate Lance will see some meaningful field time his rookie season.

Yet the Niners also spent considerable effort reinforcing their offensive line during the offseason, highlighted by inking veteran center Alex Mack and getting a pass-blocking force in rookie guard Aaron Banks, who didn’t allow a sack with Notre Dame last season.

It’s anyone’s guess whether or not these additions will help Garoppolo avoid the injury pitfall, but it’s certainly in his best interests to avoid it at all costs after what happened in two of the last three seasons.