Latest 49ers' free agent signings have extensive history of injuries


Latest 49ers' free agent signings have extensive history of injuries

The 49ers have been very active in free agency which had not been the case under the previous regime. What did feel familiar is their acquisition of players who are either coming off of injury or those who have a history of them.  

John Lynch addressed the concern about the health of their new signees, former Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander in particular. 

“You know, when you get to free agency,” Lynch said, “you’re looking for players that are going to make your team better. The good news with a guy like Kwon is he has an ACL. Those things get better."

“He's putting in the work. We had a physical that was very thorough, and our doctors came out feeling good about it. That’s just, we thought these guys were great players. We vetted it thoroughly, and we felt comfortable with it.”

It’s not just the 49ers new linebacker that has a history with injuries. The majority have had a history of missing games. Here’s the rundown: 

Kwon Alexander 

Alexander tore his ACL in October of 2018, approximately one month after Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury occurred. He is planning to be ready for training camp. He also missed multiple games in 2017 with a hamstring injury. 

Dee Ford 

Ford most recently suffered a groin injury, coincidentally when playing the 49ers, during the same fateful game that Garoppolo tore his ACL. He still played in all 16 games in 2018. He only played in six games in 2017 after a back injury forced him to be placed on injured reserve. 

Jason Verrett

Verrett missed the entire 2018 season after tearing his Achilles tendon during a conditioning test on the first day of training camp. He only played in five games from 2016-2017 due to knee injuries. He participated in just six games as a rookie before being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury in 2014.

Jordan Matthews 

Mathews has had trouble with his knees for quite a while. He missed six games in 2017 and two in 2018. He was cut during training camp with the Patriots with a hamstring injury.  

David Mayo

Mayo had a sports hernia/core muscle surgery after the 2018 season. It is the same type of injury that Nick Bosa had repaired. He is expected to make a full recovery by training camp. 

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' free agency]

Jimmie Ward 

Ward has ended each of his four seasons with broken bones. In his rookie season, it was a foot fracture. In 2016 he broke his collar bone and in both 2017 and 2018, he broke his forearm albeit in different places. 

While the training and medical staffs cannot control the rate of injuries the 49ers are still revamping the structure. Lynch explained the methodology behind the shift. 

“I think we looked hard at it,” Lynch said. “We’ve adjusted our staff accordingly. We’ve announced some of those moves, some more to come. So, we've really tried to look at our structure and how we can best care for our players and give them every opportunity to stay healthy. Having said that, injuries happen.”

Jimmy Garoppolo says 49ers QBs all stand to benefit from competition

Jimmy Garoppolo says 49ers QBs all stand to benefit from competition

SANTA CLARA – Unlike a year ago, there is competition inside the 49ers’ quarterbacks meeting room.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s spot is set as the starter, but Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard are competing for the backup job. Wilton Speight joined the three returners when he signed as an undrafted rookie from UCLA.

“It’s a good group,” Garoppolo said. “We all help each other out, especially in-between reps. You come to the sideline and coach might be busy looking at whoever’s in there, and you can talk to each other about it, just what they saw and if you mess something up, how you can fix it, things like that.”

Mullens finished last season on an impressive eight-game run. He completed 64.2 percent of his pass attempts with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 90.9.

His 2,277 yards passing are the fourth most in NFL history for a quarterback in his first eight starts, ranking behind only Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

As well as Mullens played, his spot is not assured this year.

The 49ers still have a high opinion of C.J. Beathard, a third-round pick in 2017 who took over after Garoppolo’s injury last season. Beathard entered both of his first two seasons in the NFL as the team's unquestioned No. 2.

Beathard completed 60.4 percent of his passes last season with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions and an 81.8 passer rating. Beathard started five games – all 49ers losses – and his confidence appeared to take a beating as he absorbed one hit after and other and was sacked 18 times in 187 dropbacks.

On a short week, coach Kyle Shanahan went with Mullens against the Raiders in Week 9. Mullens had a near-perfect game and never gave Shanahan a reason to make a change back to Beathard.

[RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo braces for full practice at start of 49ers training camp]

Mullens and Beathard are expected to split the 11-on-11 practice snaps during the offseason program while Garoppolo is relegated to just 7-on-7 drills. The competition for the backup role will intensify in training camp.

“It’s a good group of guys and a very competitive group of guys, which makes us all better,” Garoppolo said.

Mike McGlicnhey explains what makes Dee Ford special to 49ers' defense

Mike McGlicnhey explains what makes Dee Ford special to 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA —Dee Ford’s first step off the line of scrimmage has been called one of the fastest in the NFL, and after only two days of practice across from him, 49ers tackle Mike McGlinchey has confirmed that to be true. 

"Dee is everything he's advertised as,” McGlinchey said. “He's in the elite class in his get-off and the ability to get into people and taking control of blocks. I felt that for the first time in the run game today -- how different he is in the timing and the fit on the edge there.”  

McGlinchey explained how much that makes a tackle have to stay on their toes. A split second too late and Ford will be making his way past the them. 

“He’s just quicker, and he’s strong as well,” McGlinchey said. “So if the timing is off, if normally I’m hitting on the second step, just a little bit later, I’m still in control of the block. With Dee, you got to be as fast as humanly possible because he’s that good at getting into you.” 

It will provide a challenge for McGlinchey and the other tackles on the offensive line to practice opposite of Ford. The challenge, however, will only make all of them that much more prepared. 

“Excited to get to work with him,” McGlinchey said. “It’s only going to make me better, the rest of our tackles better. He’s going to be special for us this year and we are certainly glad he’s on our side now.”  

McGlinchey sees how Ford will also open up things for the rest of the defensive line including DeForest Buckner, who had a career best season in 2018. When McGlinchey attended the 49ers Community’s Golden Getaway fundraiser, he had time to sit in on Robert Saleh’s coaching seminar where the defensive coordinator explained the impact that Ford would have. 

“One of his highlights was how Dee is just going to create space for people,” McGlinchey said. “I think a huge example of that was last year in Kansas City they had Chris Jones. He came away with 13 or 14 sacks last year and I think a lot of that has to do with who he was paired with on the outside.”  

[RELATED: Why 49ers' Sherman finally is feeling like his former self]
Jones actually finished 2018 with 15.5 sacks and has a similar build to Buckner who stands an inch taller at 6-foot-7 and 10 pounds lighter at 300.

“DeForest is as special as it gets when it comes to playing defensive line in the league,” McGlinchey said. “And now that he has someone that takes away double or triple teams, it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch those two work and rest of the D-line for sure.”