The 49ers named Dustin Little head athletic trainer Tuesday, locking in one of the final pieces of their new strength and conditioning and athletic training structure.
After 17 players spent time on injured reserve during the 2018 season and 24 players the season prior, the 49ers sought change. The team fired longtime head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson and head of strength and conditioning Ray Wright.
General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan both identified streamlining the two programs as an offseason priority.
“It’s about where we want to go, how we can make the overall process of it better,” Shanahan said after the season ended. “Injuries happen, and we’ve looked into that, and we’re going to do everything we can to improve that. We have to, because that has hurt us a lot in the last two years.”
“We consulted with some other teams,” Lynch said a few months ago. “Organizations in some other sports, looking for the right answers, and trying to put our own stamp on it. We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel. We’re just trying to get that deal right."
Hiring Ben Peterson as the head of player health and performance several weeks ago was the first step of that process. Peterson and Little will work together closely, as the 49ers model their structure after the NHL and NBA.
“We are excited to add Dustin to our health and performance team and believe he is a tremendous fit for our group,” Lynch said in a statement Tuesday. “A wide net was cast for this search, and we simply kept coming back to him.
“Our due diligence and a great recommendation from the Broncos organization, which is highly regarded for the care of its players, made us extremely confident in bringing Dustin aboard.”
Little comes to Santa Clara after spending more than five years in Denver in a variety of roles, including as an assistant athletic trainer and director of rehabilitation.