Football Outsiders is working on their annual Football Outsiders Almanac (FOA) and it will include a look at the health of each franchise in 2010. In recent years, FOA has shown the 49ers to be one of the healthier teams in the NFL when it comes to Adjusted Games Lost. In 2009 they had 43.6 AGLs, which was good for 9th in the NFL. In 2008 they had 30.3 AGLs, which was good for 6th in the NFL.
FO will release 2010 Adjusted Games Lost when the FOA comes out in a few weeks, but more than likely the 49ers will rate fairly high. In 2010 the 49ers used 32 starters over the course of the season, which was tied for the lowest number of starters alongside the Baltimore Ravens. That is looking at the 22 offensive and defensive starters. For the 49ers, the most significant health issue was the loss of Frank Gore for five games. Beyond that the only significant mix of starters was at QB where Troy Smith got six starts, and at strong safety where Reggie Smith and Taylor Mays got their starts.
One would imagine that if a team could stay healthy good thing would follow. That was obviously not the case with the 49ers. They lost a big cog in Gore, but it's not like they were playing all that well before Gore went down. Maybe we'll get a legit answer about the cause of all this with the new Jim Harbaugh coaching staff. Maybe it's talent, maybe it's coaching, maybe it's both.
One interesting note is that Eric Heitmann does not factor into any of these injury stats because he was lost before the regular season began and David Baas started all sixteen games at center. There's only so much you can draw from What If type questions, but I still find myself wondering: What if Eric Heitmann had remained healthy. Would that have made much difference for the line? Would we have seen David Baas get a shot at right guard over Chilo Rachal, or would Baas have spent much of the season on the bench?