USA TODAY Sports
We take a look at the 49ers ability to stay relatively healthy under Jim Harbaugh, and break down a potential reason for this health.
The San Francisco 49ers have dealt with some health issues the last two seasons, but for the most part they have done as good a job as any staying healthy over the long haul. This year saw Kyle Williams, Mario Manningham, Kendall Hunter, Demarcus Dobbs and Parys Haralson all lost to injured reserve at one point or another. However, the 49ers have continued trucking along in spite of these injuries.
One area where it seems like the 49ers have generally stayed healthy is the smaller injuries like hamstring pulls and sprained ankles. The 49ers deal with them, but it seems like it is not a particularly regular occurrence for the team. Given the physical toll of football, this would seem to be kind of a big deal.
The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article yesterday discussing how the 49ers use a lot of stretching in their game and practice preparations. According to the players, it involves some basic cardio, and is really a lot like warming up for P.E. class. One of the more recent 49ers additions commented on the system:
Linebacker Clark Haggans arrived in San Francisco this year and wasn't surprised to hear the training staff address the four major types of lifting weights. He was surprised, however, that they spent just as much time talking about flexibility, requiring players at different positions to perform different stretches. Initially skeptical, he is now sold. "It's kept our muscles from doing something funky," he said.
When Football Outsiders put together their preseason preview content, they projected the 49ers were most likely to regress. Their analysis was based on a combination of factors, one of which was an expectation that they would regress a bit in health.
The 49ers did regress in terms of major injuries, as seen by the above players on injured reserve. However, they seem to be maintaining their health when it comes to the more nagging injuries. A sprained ankle or a pulled hamstring might not always take a player off the field, but it could put them in a position where they are playing closer to 70 or 80% instead of at the top of their game.