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Is tackling technique to blame for 49ers defensive injuries?

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Three safeties. Three broken bones. Three weeks. What’s going on?

New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have an injury problem, though you already know that if you haven’t been living under a rock. It’s more than likely a long string of bad luck that has consistently went against the team when it just as easily could have gone somewhere else.

Or is there something wrong with the way the 49ers are approaching things? Is there something wrong with the way they practice or play? The three safeties who broke bones over three weeks are the biggest concern. What’s going on there?

Kevin Lynch at KNBR posited that Robert Saleh’s views on tackling could be to blame for the broken bones, but he also notes that the most likely answer is a “bizarre chain of events.”

Lynch notes that Saleh, the defensive coordinator, taught the team’s defensive backs to go lower when tackling. This was a measure to prevent injuries given the smaller stature of San Francisco’s safeties. Unfortunately, that seemed to backfire with Jaquiski Tartt specifically.

With 270-pound tight end Troy Niklas speeding right toward him after catching a pass, Tarrt aimed at the thigh and got his arm involved in wrapping Niklas’ legs. Tarrt who was giving away 50 pounds, smacked his right arm hard against one of Niklas’ tree-trunk of a leg and his arm gave way.

Adrian Colbert broke his thumb making a tackle on Giants receiver Tavarres King. Colbert went low on the tackle, and broke the thumb attempting a wrap-up. It was a very high-impact play though, so it’s hard to blame the tackling technique.

And as Lynch notes, the Jimmie Ward play where he broke his arm is hard to pinpoint. There is no definitive proof in these three examples, as Lynch himself notes. But it’s definitely worth considering.