49ers

How 49ers' schedule gives them chance to survive injuries

49ers

No George Kittle. No Jimmy Garoppolo. No Richard Sherman. No Deebo Samuel. No Raheem Mostert. No Dee Ford. No Nick Bosa. No Solomon Thomas. No Tevin Coleman. No Dre Greenlaw. 

No kidding. And no way you could dream up such a nightmare scenario for the 49ers heading into Week 3 of the 2020 NFL season. 

The 49ers have been body slammed by injuries through two weeks, but have a legitimate opportunity to recover. 

As crazy as this might sound given the roster's current state, the 49ers got a little lucky. Only, of course, if you're looking directly through a rose-colored glass that's half-full. Let's do that for a second. 

While Bosa and Thomas are done for the year, it’s realistic to expect everyone else back in the relatively near future. They’re also as well-coached as any team, from Kyle Shanahan to Robert Saleh to the position coaches. 

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As important as any of that, however, is the timing of all this. The 49ers are in the middle of their easiest part of their schedule. They play the New York Giants on Sunday. They play the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, respectively, after that. 

Those three teams have one win between them, with a 1-6 record thus far. The 49ers should be able to beat each opponent with an arm that’s currently tied behind their back. That happened in Week 2 against the New York Jets. They destroyed Gang Green with Kittle, Samuel and Sherman out, Bosa and Thomas hurt early and Garoppolo and Mostert done after the first half. 

 

The 49ers should be able to do that against the Giants especially, considering Saquon Barkely’s unavailable after an ACL tear. Despite all those setbacks, it’s possible the 49ers go 3-0 over this stretch. Even 2-1 would be a coup considering all that has happened, and would keep them on pace to compete in a stacked NFC West. 

Backup quarterback Nick Mullens proved during 2018 that he can produce in Shanahan’s system. He has starting experience and can navigate the time Garopollo’s out. If they can get Garoppolo back shortly after this easier stretch, the 49ers stand a fighting chance. 

Going up against weaker teams should allow players like Ziggy Ansah and Kerry Hyder Jr. time to adjust to more permanently expanded roles. First-round NFL draft picks Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk should get more comfortable and confident if they can produce well against lesser opposition.

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And it buys the 49ers some time to get others back on the pitch. While it’s hard to expect the defense to be as ferocious without Bosa — Ford’s injury seems complicating — and Thomas, the offense can still score efficiently with Garoppolo running the show and Samuel and Kittle eventually back in the fray. 

If the 49ers had a murderer’s row next up on the schedule, we might look at this injury plague as a season killer. Facing easier opposition provides some hope the 49ers can survive and advance to a point where they can get relatively restocked and ready to face far tougher teams down the line.