49ers’ most notable moves of the offseason
The 49ers can’t seem to shake the injury issues that plagued them during the past two seasons.
The team finished off its second practice of offseason team activities Tuesday with a long list of injured players, including a number of new ailments. The highest profile injury is also one of the team’s newest players: No. 2 draft pick Nick Bosa, who sat out the second half of the afternoon session with an apparent hamstring injury.
“It was (during) one-on-one drills,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I’m not sure of the severity of it.”
Bosa walked slowly to the sideline and appeared to be agitated, though he didn’t receive any attention from the team’s medical staff. He sat on one knee and watched fellow linemen go through their post-practice conditioning after the team period was complete.
He received some words of encouragement from new teammate Dee Ford, who has a history of back injuries dating back to his time in college. He missed 10 games with the Chiefs in 2017 because of a back injury.
“He works very hard,” said Ford. “He’s a really good guy. You hate to see that for a rookie because he’s really progressing and he’s going to be important for this defense. That D-line room is really starting to mesh. He’ll get healthy. He’ll be back. He’ll be fine. It’s important as a rookie to stay the course. You got a lot of stuff to go through as a rookie. I told him, once ball gets here, it’s all about ball. All the extra stuff will be over.”
The 49ers will likely take things slowly with Bosa after missing the final 11 games of his college career at Ohio State with a core muscle injury that required surgery. He worked his way back to participate at the scouting combine, where he performed well before getting drafted. The team kept him out of 11-on-11 drills during rookie minicamp earlier this month while he continued to work on conditioning.
Bosa saw a handful of snaps as the right defensive end during team drills Tuesday before tweaking the hamstring. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will address the media next week and will likely be asked for an update. For now, the team is expected to be cautious with Bosa to ramp him up for the start of training camp in late July.
A slew of injuries
That’s the plan for a slew of players working their way back from injuries, including running back Matt Breida (partially torn pectoral), tight end Garrett Celek (back, concussion), linebacker Fred Warner (knee), receiver Jalen Hurd (knee), running back Raheem Mostert (arm) and lineman Erik Magnuson (unknown). All those players are expected to be cleared in time for training camp, if not earlier.
“This is the most time I’ve had with people missing OTAs,” Shanahan said. “But we’ve been really healthy the last two OTAs and it’s been the opposite in camp. So, maybe it’ll be the opposite this year – we’re not healthy during OTAs, this is maybe a good sign for training camp. I know which one I’d rather have.”
These un-padded spring practices are generally less rigorous mentally and physically than training camp, which serves as the primary rehearsal for the start of the regular season. For now, the coaching staff is installing the basics of the playbook and teaching the fundamentals of their respective systems.
Which is another way of saying: It’s far too early to panic over injuries, though there is value to being on the field at this point of the offseason.
“These nine or 10 practices are the only time of the year you’re allowed to play football without consequence and be live and get a feel for timing,” second-year tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “Obviously, you want that for your guys but the most important thing is to have them ready for training camp. ... So it’s a matter of trust of the coaching staff and the players that are in that situation and the players working their ass off to getting back to where they need to be.”
Shanahan said Breida suffered his injury while lifting weights. He was dressed on the field and was running around but hasn’t been cleared for contact. Celek’s back injury is preventing him from playing, though it’s notable he hasn’t been cleared through the concussion protocol after missing the 2018 season finale with a head injury. Warner had arthriscopic surgery on his knee and Hurd is coming off a predraft injury and has only been cleared to run for roughly a month.
Those are the new injuries on top of the ones that were previously known, such as three notable ACL patients: quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Jerick McKinnon and linebacker Kwon Alexander. Center Weston Richburg remains out after surgery to repair a knee and quad injury. Cornerback Jason Verrett is continuing to work back from a torn Achilles suffered last July.
Veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith participated in individual drills this week but was kept from the team portion because of an ongoing ankle injury that popped up in 2018. Mostert had a setback following surgery to repair his fractured arm in November that pushed his time table back a month. That means Tevin Coleman was the only running back projected to make the 53-man roster working with the starting offense this week. Second-year pro Jeff Wilson Jr. and undrafted rookie Austin Walter were the only other halfbacks to receive snaps.
One of the big developments of the 49ers offseason was clearing the deck and revamping the training and medical staffs after being among the league leaders in using injured reserve the past two years. The team hired former Philadelphia Flyers director of sports science Ben Peterson as the new head of player health and performance. Additionally, former Broncos staffer Dustin Little was made head athletic trainer and Dustin Perry was promoted to head athletic trainer after worker under Ray Wright, who held that position for the 49ers for the past two seasons.
Which all leads to a cautious approach throughout the offseason to ensure the injury woes improve when the games matter in September.
“When you stack (the injuries) up, it is different with reps and things like that,” said Shanahan. “Hopefully that’ll lead to a better training camp.”