The 49ers revamped their medical and training staff over the offseason, and thus far it’s getting positive reviews from both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon.
After 17 players spent time on injured reserve in 2018 and 24 the season prior, the 49ers felt they needed to make a few changes.
The result was Ben Peterson becoming the new head of player health and performance while Dustin Keller was tapped as the head athletic trainer.
The pressure is on coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch as they head into their third season having collected only 10 wins. Their success is linked to the return of Garoppolo and McKinnon, and the player performance staff obviously plays a key role in making sure both players get back to 100 percent.
The hope is that the two sides would work more efficiently together, ultimately becoming one department.
Garoppolo has been impressed by their efficiency thus far.
“Bringing in Dustin and Ben, I think they’ve done a good job of just, it’s a smooth process,” Garoppolo said. “No time wasted, one thing after another. Especially this time of the year.
“We’re so condensed with time that every minute counts and those guys, they’ve really done a good job. I think guys are buying into it.”
McKinnon was even more effusive when asked about the new staff. He indicated that what Shanahan and Lynch were trying to accomplish has already started working.
“They’ve done a great job of just being on the same page,” McKinnon said. “And with everything, not just players getting hurt or whatever. They have a plan and I think everybody is going to be excited what they see from them.”
Both McKinnon and Garoppolo seem to be itching to get back onto the field even though they understand they need to be careful.
McKinnon was asked if he noticed a difference in his progress with the new staff in place. He confirmed that even in the short amount of time he has been working with them, he has indeed noticed a change.
“Definitely,” McKinnon said. “I’ve been getting a lot stronger. I wish I could tell you all, but I can’t. I definitely feel comfortable, I definitely feel confident, and they got me throwing up a lot of weight so I like that too.
“It’s been about them not judging how much volume I have on my knee, what I do every day.”
McKinnon’s new controlled freedom also comes at a stage in his rehabilitation where he is noting a bit of progress. It sounds as though he has similar views on his training program as the new staff.
“Yeah now,” McKinnon said. “Before I felt like I was on a leash. But every step along the way, you get to do new stuff and get more freedom -- be out there cutting, ladder drills and stuff like that. It’s nice to finally be able to do more.”