5 players the 49ers can't afford to lose to injury in 2024

If the Niners lose any one of these players to an elongated injury in 2024, there could be some serious trouble.
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) with quarterback Brock Purdy (13) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19)
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) with quarterback Brock Purdy (13) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy was hurt two NFC Championship games ago, which all but ended the Niners' bid for a Super Bowl berth. Prior to that, San Francisco's two other starters, Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, also took the bench due to their own season-ending injuries.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel has been hurt multiple times in the past few years, too.

With the defending NFC champs primed to make a return to the Super Bowl, these five players must stay healthy above all others if this team wants to surpass last year's level.

5. Jauan Jennings

Jennings re-signed with the team this offseason. He had a tremendous showing during the NFL's biggest game, the Super Bowl, in which he could have been the contest's MVP if the 49ers won.

With Deebo's history of nagging injuries, and Brandon Aiyuk's current contract dispute, Jennings must be on the field as much as possible. Unproven rookies, Ricky Pearsall and Jacob Cowing, should not be tasked with too much responsibility or burden.

Jennings showed promise in his first prominent season, 2021, with five touchdown receptions.

He has only had one in each of his following years.

The former University of Tennessee Volunteer should not be overlooked and undervalued on the 49ers depth chart. Though San Francisco may have multiple talented wide receivers, Jennings was retained and brought back with good reason.

4. Brock Purdy

Yes, the man under center himself should remain healthy. The backup quarterback from last season, Sam Darnold, has left for the Minnesota Vikings.

However, the Niners lured one of the NFC North's hurlers to replace him in Joshua Dobbs. Losing Purdy to an injury would place an uneasy burden of pressure on a fairly unproven (but mediocre) Dobbs to fill in.

Last season, Purdy threw for 4,280 yards and 31 scores. Both those marks were in the top five in the NFL, just like his top ranking 72.8 quarterback rating.

Purdy threw for one touchdown in each of his three playoff games last season including his first ever Super Bowl appearance. He only threw one pick during the NFC Championship game against the Detroit Lions.

He threw multiple touchdowns in nine of the 16 games he played and was only held scoreless in two contests.

That level of consistent production would be missed by the 49ers' offense should Purdy go down to another injury.

3. Fred Warner

Anytime a premier defender and linebacker goes down for the count, that defense will feel it. Regardless of the depth the Niners possess, the loss of Warner would not go unnoticed.

With 82 total tackles and 2.5 sacks, No. 54 delivered on the field in 2023. He also added four forced fumbles and four interceptions during the season.

Since entering the NFL in 2018 as the 70th overall pick, Warner has never missed more than one game in any season as a pro. His durability, toughness and athleticism is what makes him one of the most feared linebackers in the league.

Warner has recorded at least 118 tackles in every season he has played. He has also forced at least one fumble in each season, too.

In the four postseasons that he has played, the former BYU product has amassed a pair of picks and a forced fumble to brag. Warner averages at least eight tackles a game in the playoffs.

A defensive staple like him would be missed if he were ever to miss playing time for any reason. The 49ers have banked on his production during gameplay and leadership in the locker room for the past six seasons.

2. Nick Bosa

Another reason why opposing offenses fear the Niners defense is because of Bosa. The revered defensive end tallied 10.5 sacks last season.

Outside of him missing significant time in 2020 because of a torn ACL, Bosa has never missed more than one game in any other season. The second overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft has averaged almost 15 sacks a year since 2021.

He has forced multiple fumbles in as many seasons, including a career high of four in 2021. This was his first season back from a major injury Bosa suffered the year prior.

Despite not taking down an opposing quarterback in the 2022 playoffs, Bosa has 10 total sacks between the other three postseasons that he has played in. To make up for that year, it was the only one in which he collected a fumble recovery.

If Bosa were to miss games like he did during his sophomore campaign in the NFL, the 49ers would feel it. San Francisco has held top marks in multiple seasons with some of the most takeaways in the past few seasons.

1. Christian McCaffrey

The 2023 Offensive Player of the Year is a very accomplished rusher. Furthermore, he is a proven pass catcher even since his time with the Carolina Panthers.

McCaffrey's 272 carries was tied for second most in the NFL last year. His 1,459 yards rushing was second to none, though.

Purdy and company were able to keep the chains moving and put points on the scoreboard largely because of McCaffrey. In his first full season as a 49er, it was only the second time he had more than one fumble in a year.

Selected eighth overall in 2017, the seven-year veteran hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. McCaffrey caught a career-high seven touchdown receptions in 2023.

As we mentioned before, the injury bug has lingered over the locker room many times in the past. Should McCaffrey go down, he may be the single greatest loss to the squad, given what he does rushing and receiving.

We've seen the level of success the 49ers can achieve with him in the fold. Thus, why McCaffrey would be the biggest injury loss if it went down that way in San Francisco.

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