We've been patient and guess what? Football is coming. Rookies report to camp today and when they report, so begins the fight for roster spots. Rookies report early for a few reasons, but one of the benefits is to develop and evaluate new talent. At camp, coaches are evaluating injuries and what potential impact they can have on wins and losses.
Fooch asked me to do a rundown of all rookies' pre-NFL injuries and projections on how likely the rookies will be classified going into the season. We drafted 11 players and 10 had a history of previous injuries. Even before the draft, it was expected we would draft players with injuries. If you are interested in finding out what goes into choosing a player from a medical standpoint, you can read this article.
Since we have a host of players with injuries, you may find it helpful to know how the NFL classifies various injuries and what impact it has on the team. In case you missed it, I put together a breakdown of the various injury designations here. This article focuses on half of our rookies, i.e., the 49ers' 2013 NFL Draft class. My next article will cover the 49ers' 2013 undrafted free agent signings.
Eric Reid, Safety
49ers number one draft pick, Eric Reid, suffered a partial quad tear his sophomore year at LSU, and in 2012, he re-aggravated it. When Reid suffered the quad tear, he only missed one game. And in 2012, even with a painful flare-up, he started all 13 games. Reid shows significant durability and is expected to compete for a starting position at safety. Reid is ready to practice.
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, Defensive End
Carradine suffered a season ending injury when he tore his ACL his senior year. He is now almost 7-months post-surgery. You may recall, over two months ago, Carradine stated he was 100 percent. It still blows my mind he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds (only 4 months post-surgery), notwithstanding the fact this man is 6'4" and weighs 276 lbs.
All signs show he is healthy, but he was precluded from participating in minicamp and Vic Fangio said he and Quinton Dial were not expected to be ready at the start of training camp. If there is any question before the 49ers' first practice next week, I believe the team will absolutely put Carradine on NFI list until doctors determine he is 100%. The team can take him off the NFI list at any point during training camp. If he remained on the NFI list after training camp, he would be ineligible to practice or participate in game action for the first six weeks of the season. This is similar to the operation of the PUP list.
Vance McDonald, Tight End
McDonald has had two surgeries, one surgery on each shoulder. Despite this, he was picked in the second round (55 overall) by the San Francisco 49ers. This fact shows, in my opinion, McDonald's pre-NFL injuries did not give the 49ers much concern. And, at the 2013 combine, McDonald 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. Clearly, his shoulder injuries are showing zero adverse effects. Unless he re-aggravates or somehow exacerbates his injuries, McDonald is ready to practice.
Corey Lemonier, Outside Linebacker
I knew Lemonier played through an ankle injury in 2012. After much diligent research, I was not able to find out too much about the nature and extent of his injury. One of our members stated he believed after the ankle injury, Lemonier lost explosion. I went back and watched some of his tape. I noticed he had some trouble getting off the blocks, but I cannot say it is a direct result of his ankle injury. This injury, at worst, is marginally bothersome.
Lemonier played defensive end in college and is making the transition to outside linebacker with the 49ers. We know the 49ers medical staff thoroughly reviews a players' medical history, so I am confident the 49ers know the full extent of his injury. Lemonier fully participated in minicamp and no incidents were reported. Lemonier is ready to practice.
Quinton Patton, Wide Receiver
In 2011, Quinton Patton suffered an ankle injury against New Mexico State. Patton has a lot of confidence in his abilities. He sees himself as one of the best wide receivers, and I do not see his previous ankle injury getting the best of him. Patton is ready to practice.
Marcus Lattimore, Running Back
Lattimore suffered one of the worst knee injuries in college sports history. He dislocated his knee and tore his anterior cruciate, lateral collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments (ACL, LCL, and PCL). Gnarly doesn't even begin to describe it. And, when he sustained the injury, he was just coming off another season-ending injury in 2011 to his left ACL. I am pulling for Lattimore and wish him a speedy rehabilitation, but his recovery should not be rushed. Considering the depth at the position and the severity of his injury, the 49ers will let Lattimore heal completely. I believe he will be on the NFI list this entire season.
Quinton Dial, Defensive Lineman
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. Dial has shown the ability to play through it, but his progress concerns me a little. The 49ers did not expect Dial to practice until training camp. To me, him not stepping on the practice field indicates he will start on the NFI list. And, if all indications are true, this is where he belongs. Once he practices with the team, the 49ers limit their own options going forward.
Nick Moody, Linebacker
After the 49ers selected the young linebacker in the sixth round (180 overall), Fooch wrote an article on Moody. He noted at that time, Moody has tendonitis in his right knee and has dealt with groin and shoulder injuries the last few years.
In 2008, Moody had a red shirt season due to a shoulder injury which required surgery. In 2009, it appears he returned and played in all 13 games. In 2010, he missed the season opener due to another injury, but played the remaining 12 games. In 2011, he rotated in at free safety, and played in only nine games while coping with a groin injury. In 2012, Moody played in all 14 games. But, after four games, Moody emerged as the Noles strong side linebacker and started all 10 of those games. If the groin and shoulder injuries are resolved, which I suspect they are, Moody should be ready to practice.
B.J. Daniels, Quarterback
In early November 2012, B.J. Daniels sustained a broken ankle which effectively ended his college career. Daniels was tackled from behind and the defender rolled up on his ankle, breaking it. It was a significant blow for Daniels and USF.
The injury wasn't a huge surprise to anyone who watched South Florida regularly. USF experienced a lot of trouble at offensive line, among other areas. With an ineffective OL, Daniels made his name rushing. He rushed for a school-record 25 touchdowns. A USF blogger stated Daniels was "running for his life" on the field. That being said, an injury was bound to occur. I do not know why I haven't done a write-up on him before.
Interestingly, at minicamp, he did some work on special teams and running back. How the 49ers use Daniels is still a question mark. But, Daniels was training full speed only three and a half months post injury. At his pro day, Daniels definitely showed up. In the 40-yard dash, Daniels logged times of 4.63 and 4.66, though one scout had him at 4.58. He did 20 bench-press repetitions at 225 pounds. His vertical leap was 30-1/2 inches. That's off a broken ankle?
I believe Daniels is one of those gifted athletes who can pick up any sport and excel at it. He is anything but typical. There are no signs of anything chronic. But for some unforeseen occurrence, his injury doesn't concern me. The fact he was already practicing at minicamp shows he is expected to practice.
Carter Bykowski, Offensive Tackle
Hooray! I could not turn up any injuries. So, he's ready to practice.
Marcus Cooper, Defensive Back
In November 2010, Cooper suffered a leg injury during a practice session. In December 2011, he laid out a referee and was injured on that play. But, other than those two incidents, he is strong. Cooper is actually one of my favorites in this draft class. He is tall, fast and athletic. He is ready to practice and I see him ready to compete for a spot on special teams.
Besides the upper round draft picks, many of these players haven't generated much buzz. Interestingly, even the sixth, seventh and compensatory round picks have immense potential. Some of the players suffered injuries and many teams likely passed on them due to risk. I am intrigued by many of the 49ers selections from a medical standpoint, and I am interested in seeing these players compete for time on the field.