First, a disclaimer: We do not wish injuries upon anyone.
That clarified, it is undeniable that lining up opposite the 49ers defense can be hazardous to your health. While none of the resulting injuries will be celebrated, the physical, punishing, will-imposing style of Vic Fangio's defensive unit can, and should, be lauded.In the first seven games of the season, only three opposing starting backs completed their contest in good health.Felix Jones was the first victim, suffering a separated shoulder in Week 2. Fortunately, he did not miss any time.
LeGarrette Blount was taken down by DaShon Goldson and sprained his MCL in Week 5. He missed the Buccaneers' next two games.Former Cal Bear Jahvid Best might have got it the worst. He quietly left the game in the fourth quarter, and, only afterward, reports surfaced that he suffered a concussion that would end his promising sophomore season.
"We had a hard time getting the run game going," Lions coach Jim Schwartz observed after the loss.After a bye week, it was malady for the Browns' Montario Hardesty, who tore a calf muscle and missed four games.At this point in the season, going into a Week 9 matchup with the Redskins, we took the time to ask, is it a bad week to be a Washington ball carrier?Since their statement stretch to open the year, the 49ers have mellowed out, allowing all but one of the remaining regular season opposing backs good health. Steven Jackson left the Week 13 game with a injured biceps muscle.But playoffs are playoffs.In his NFC Championship press conference, safety Donte Whitner said that a big hit early in the game "sets the tone, and lets the offense know they're in for a long day." The first seven games the 49ers defense put together let every offensive player in the league know they were in for a long season. And on the opening drive of the 49ers' Divisional-round matchup with the Saints, Whitner delivered that hit, laying into Pierre Thomas with a gruesome tackle that knocked Thomas unconscious, the football falling from his locked-up arms.Thomas would not return to the game, finishing with just one rush for six yards, a fumble and a concussion.Just as the 49ers set the tone for the season in their first seven games, they set the tone for their playoff run in the first series.Offensive players "dont want a physical game," Whitner said. "They want an easy day, they want to run out of bounds, they dont want guys hitting them."With Whitner, Goldson, Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman, and Patrick Willis among the 49ers tacklers, New York's offensive players won't get that wish.
Nate Stuhlbarg is a web producer with CSNBayArea.com. Follow him on Twitter @StuhlbargCSN.