Football Outsiders released their annual Adjusted Games Lost rankings, and it is no surprise the San Francisco 49ers finished near the back of the pack in health. The 49ers ranked No. 26 in 2015. They ranked No. 28 in 2014, and No. 23 in 2013. This followed back-to-back seasons in which they were first (2012) and eighth (2011). Health is a critical issue, and the last two seasons have shown how bad things can get.
AGL does not count up games missed and go from there. Rather, they "quantify how much teams were affected by injuries based on two principles: (1) Injuries to starters, replacement starters, and important situational reserves (No. 3 wide receiver, nickel back, etc.) matter more than injuries to bench warmers; and (2) Injured players who do take the field are usually playing with reduced ability, which is why AGL is based not strictly on whether the player is active for the game or not, but instead is based on the player's listed status that week (IR/PUP, out, doubtful, questionable or probable)."
The 49ers injured reserve list alone was lengthy. The injured reserve list included Colin Kaepernick, Reggie Bush, Shaun Draughn, Carlos Hyde, L.J. McCray, Antoine Bethea, Michael Wilhoite, Alex Boone, Garrett Celek, and Glenn Dorsey. And we have to add in the first 11 weeks in which Daniel Kilgore was on the PUP list.
And yet, that doesn't begin to cover the injury issues surrounding the 49ers. The most notable example is Colin Kaepernick. He showed up on the injury report with a shoulder issue in Week 11, but all indications are the shoulder was a problem before that. There are conflicting reports about what the 49ers knew about the injury, and so AGL is unable to fully assess how injuries impacted the 49ers. Of course, that applies to every other team as well.
That being said, the 49ers dealt with a ridiculous amount of injuries. They dealt with constant turnover at running back, they had to make adjustments at linebacker and other positions, and overall it was not pretty. The 49ers now bring in Chip Kelly as head coach, and we know he is a big proponent of sports science. The combination of that with hopefully reverting toward the mean in terms of injury could mean good things for the 49ers in 2016. There are plenty of issues to deal with, but if they can stay healthier than the last three seasons, that is a big step in the right direction.