49ers

49ers fire head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson after string of injuries

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AP

49ers fire head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson after string of injuries

After a string of injuries over the past two seasons, the 49ers have fired head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson, who has held the role since 2006.

Ferguson joins Ray Wright, former head of the strength and conditioning, as personnel that the team has let go since the conclusion of the regular season.

In an official statement obtained from the team, general manager John Lynch thanked the man who was known as “Ferg” by players and staff.

“Following a thorough evaluation, we have determined that now is the right time for a reboot in the structure and protocols of our health and performance areas,” Lynch said in the statement. “On behalf of our entire team, Kyle and I would like to thank Ferg and Ray for the dedication and passion they brought to the 49ers organization.

“We would like to specifically recognize the contributions Ferg has made to the 49ers over the last 13 years, as he was always ready to extend a caring hand to our players, staff and their families. Both he and Ray are tremendous people whom we respect deeply, and we wish them and their families nothing but the best.”

The 49ers saw 17 players spend time on injured reserve in 2018, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon. In 2017, 24 players were placed on IR.

While broken bones and non-contact injuries such as McKinnon and Garoppolo’s ACL tears cannot be blamed on the strength and conditioning staff or the training department, the players’ recovery, or lack thereof, rests solely on their shoulders. 

[RELATED: 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo gives ACL rehab update after 2018 season ends]

Returning from soft tissue ailments such as shoulder, hamstring and ankle injuries are the training staff's domain. Safety Jaquiski Tartt suffered a shoulder injury early in the season, and running back Matt Breida sustained an ankle injury. Neither player showed a consistent path to recovery as the season progressed. 

The recovery of both Garoppolo and McKinnon are vital to the 49ers’ improvement headed into the 2019 season. Lynch addressed the issues in his postseason press conference. 

“There's an old adage in football,” Lynch said. “I don't know if it's exclusive to football, but your best ability is availability. We haven't had a lot of guys available, and that's something we're looking into hard. It's been ongoing. 

“We'll continue to do that because it's something that needs to change, and I don't think anyone's to blame. We have been studying it. We'll continue to, and try to get a handle on that.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan also had a strong opinion about the health of his players. 

“It's been too big of a deal for two years,” Shanahan said. “Injuries are pretty random, but it's also affected us huge. So, that's something that we definitely have to sit back and really look at it from all angles and put a lot of time into. Just try to find a better perspective at it.”

Prior to joining the 49ers, Ferguson served as the manager of athletic team development with BREG, an orthopedic company based out of Vista. He specialized in sports medicine bracing. 

Matt Barrows of The Athletic was first to report the firing.

Terrell Owens offers to run routes for 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo in rehab

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USATSI

Terrell Owens offers to run routes for 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo in rehab

Jimmy Garoppolo got a blast from the 49ers' past Wednesday.

The quarterback posted a photo of himself practicing to his Instagram page, writing a "Patiently Waiting" caption. Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs and missed the remainder of the season, as 49ers fans are well aware of. 

View this post on Instagram

Patiently Waiting

A post shared by Jimmy Garoppolo (@jimmypolo10) on

So, too, was Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens. The former 49ers star commented on Garoppolo's post, offering to run routes for the rehabbing signal-caller.

That’s also 49ers rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis responding to T.O. about route running. Smart move. 

Owens reportedly explored a return to professional football last summer in the CFL He told ESPN days later he wasn't "actively seeking to get into the NFL," but he still had the itch to play football.

"I know that I do have the ability to play," Owens said at the time. "I know everybody sees the shape that I'm in. There's a lot of athletes that play their prospective sports, but there are few guys that defy the odds. I think I'm one of those guys."

The 49ers do need a receiver next season, after all. 

49ers female assistant coach Katie Sowers sees progression in sports

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NBC Sports Bay Area

49ers female assistant coach Katie Sowers sees progression in sports

The 49ers have an offensive assistant coach who works hard and brings personality no matter what.

Her name is Katie Sowers, and she's the second woman to hold a full-time NFL coaching position. She's also the first openly gay coach in the NFL.

She's aware of the grind of her job, the long hours dedicated to her job. She attends the meetings, she watches the film, and she stays up late studying the 49ers opponents. 

Her aspirations are big as well, and by the looks of it, attainable.

"I see myself as a head coach someday," she said to NBC Sports.

Sowers also said people may think that sounds crazy, but it's been a progression.

"If we look back at the way that we've built society, we have so many gender norms." 

After all, she said, people would have been shocked to know women and men could play with the same rules in basketball.

But here they are ...

"Me being a woman I don't think makes that big of a difference," she adds. "Not all male coaches are the same, not all male coaches are going to be the same."

It appears Sowers has the respect of the team as well -- you can see they don't look at her any differently than they would any other of their coaches, teachers, or teammates.

The future certainly looks bright for her, and hopefully full of progress.