49ers

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

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AP

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.”

Watch incredible George Kittle block at Iowa before he was 49ers star

Watch incredible George Kittle block at Iowa before he was 49ers star

49ers tight end George Kittle is a great blocker. That’s it, that’s the article.

OK not quite, but it could be. And only because there’s evidence to prove it, both in stat form and this clip from when he was with Iowa:

Right?!

He earned stellar marks from Pro Football Focus in a game last season with an overall 72.9 grade with a 78.1 run-blocking grade. So despite someone, in particular, saying he's "not really a blocker," the evidence proves that. 

This is only a fraction of why he’s about to be the highest-paid tight end in the history of the NFL. He’s a big part of the 49ers’ success and the people in charge of signing the checks made it very clear he isn’t going anywhere. 

After being a fifth-round draft pick in 2017, the two-time Pro Bowler proved he was a major steal. 

[RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo NFL's most accurate QB with deep passes in 2019]

His 2,945 receiving yards since then are the most by a tight end during his first three NFL seasons … ever and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2018 with 1,377. His running game is also strong, and not just when he's running dudes off the field. 

And he’s come into the game during the perfect time with the tight end position gaining respect. 

It’s nice to see he’s always been this way.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

NFL rumors: Full-squad minicamps could be held in mid- or late June

NFL rumors: Full-squad minicamps could be held in mid- or late June

The NFL is inching toward normalcy as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

That normalcy could first come in the form of fully operational minicamps which could be held in mid- or late June, Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson reported Tuesday.

A source told Robinson that NFL coaches could return to the team facilities as early as next week, and that if the COVID-19 data permits, players could follow for minicamps either on June 15 or June 27. But at least one major hurdle still remains, with a league source telling Robinson that California Governor Gavin Newsom might be the one person standing in the way of a fully operational and on-time minicamp.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Newsom has said that professional sports could potentially start to return to California without fans in early June if the trend lines hold. If Newsom were to give the go-ahead of minicamps without fans then the NFL could be on fully on schedule with minicamps before setting the dates for training camp.

“If California is open for [team] operations soon, minicamps can still happen in June — probably late June, I’d think — but maybe even mid-June,” the league source told Robinson.

The 49ers had been looking at possibly holding their training camp outside of California due to the state's ongoing lockdown. Newsom has said he doesn't "anticipate" normal NFL games returning to California this year, but it appears he's willing to give fan-less games a chance as long as the data says it's safe and the leagues have a plan to keep the players and employees safe.

[RELATED: Nine 49ers facing make-or-break season in 2020]

The shelter-in-place order and social distancing have helped to flatten the curve in California. As of Tuesday, the state had 94,558 confirmed cases and 3,795 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and state and local government reporting.

Sports will start to come back in the coming months and it could begin with 49ers minicamp in mid to late June. But only if the data and public health officials deem it to be a safe and prudent decision.