We are now three weeks post-draft, and it seems we have discussed nearly every player in the 2013 draft class. I am enjoying the 90-in-90 series, because it gives us a realistic picture of who we will see this season. This post is meant to work in tandem, giving Niners Nation as much insight into these players as possible.
From a health perspective, I previously covered the pre-NFL injuries sustained by Eric Reid, Cornellius "Tank" Carradine and Marcus Lattimore in individual articles. This write-up is meant to cover the pre-NFL injuries of Vance McDonald, Corey Lemonier, Quinton Patton and Quinton Dial.
The 49ers new tight end has a bit of an injury history. What do we know? McDonald missed three games with a toe injury in 2012. He sustained a shoulder injury against North Texas in 2010 and subsequently missed two games. In 2009, McDonald sustained an undisclosed injury against Tulsa (likely the other shoulder) and missed two games at that time.
To the point, McDonald has had two surgeries, one surgery on each shoulder. Naturally, it's concerning. On the other hand, even with his surgical history, McDonald crushed the bench press competition at the 2013 combine. He had the best bench press (31 reps of 225 lbs.) for all tight ends this year. It was the second best for all tight ends in the last six years. What is more impressive, he has pretty long arms (34 3/8). Obviously, the longer the distance is, the harder the press. I don't know about you, but his bench press raised my eyebrows.
I knew that Corey Lemonier played through an ankle injury in 2012. I did my due diligence and attempted to research and find out more, but I came up empty. The lack of information on his ankle injury tells me that Lemonier totaled 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in 2012, and he managed to do it with no real incident. This injury, at worst, was marginally bothersome.
However, offensive linemen have a tendency to go after pass rushers' ankles, especially if they've suffered an injury. Be that as it may, when I looked at his film, Lemonier braced well for those attacks and negated nearly every attempt. His ankle injury does not appear to be anything chronic, but he will have to be mindful that his ankles could become a target.
In 2011, Quinton Patton also suffered an ankle injury against New Mexico State. I am really not sure if anything could stop Patton, but an ankle injury certainly won't. Patton has a lot of confidence in his abilities. He sees himself as one of the best wide receivers, and I do not see this previous injury getting the best of him.
I could talk about Quinton Dial's probability of injury based on his past late hits (e.g., Tyler Wilson and Aaron Murray), but I won't. Thus far, Matt Barrows reported that Dial had a toe injury. Dial has a condition known as turf toe. It is a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe, and it can be extremely painful.
Normally, turf toe can be relieved with conservative treatment. However, Dial had surgery to alleviate his symptoms. Post surgery, he will need to put his weight on the ball of his foot versus the toe. Not only will he see marked alleviation of symptoms, but it will prevent further injury. Grass is also much softer than artificial turf, hence the name, but Dial will need to adjust his footwork to avoid a potential chronic condition. What is noteworthy is that Dial has shown the ability to play through it.
As noted in a recent FanPost, jtwade stated that Dial had surgery to repair a labrum problem. I had difficulty finding more information on this, but it does not appear to be an area of substantial concern. Dial appears to be otherwise healthy and has worked hard on keeping it that way.
Why are these injuries important? It is entirely possible all of these players will make the roster. As such, a flare-up or exacerbation of injury is something worth consideration. It may seem insignificant now, but knowledge of pre-NFL injuries is part of understanding a player.
A player with a pre-NFL injury may guard it or not be as aggressive on the field. Instead of wondering about these possibilities during the season, we will have better insight into each player. By looking at every pre-NFL injury, we see the entire picture. Prior injuries are never trivial in the NFL.