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Duane Carlisle talks 49ers’ injuries, strength and conditioning programs, Frank Gore

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We can get some insight from a strength and conditioning coaches perspective on a team blanketed with injuries.

The San Francisco 49ers have been snakebit with injuries for 2018. First it was Jerick McKinnon, then it was Jimmy Garoppolo, now Matt Breida is off/on and Marquise Goodwin is a crapshoot to play each week. We’d break the site in text just listing the injury report here.

One of the questions coming up about all of this is just what are the strength and conditioning team doing to address all these injuries? Is it actually a strength and conditioning issue that everyone is getting tight and pulling muscles (and maybe tearing ACLs)?

Well, we have some professional insight. On the latest 49ers Insider Podcast Matt Maiocco brought on former 49ers strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle to talk about the current state of the 49ers and their bevy of injuries. The question came up also—just what does a strength and conditioning coach do in a situation like the 49ers? Carlisle gave a lengthy and detailed answer:

“The strength and conditioning coach’s role, in managing that aspect, is to look at and leave no stone unturned. So when you have a rash of injuries, you’re zooming out and looking at everything that you’re doing. You’re having great communication with your head coach about what you’re seeing with respect to fatigue or practice; as it relates to practice, intensity of practice—you start looking at everything. Then you’re obviously looking at your weight program and you’re looking at things that you’re doing there to dot your eyes and cross your T’s. You just start looking at everything because at the end of the day you want to be able to put your best players on the field. That’s how you win games in the National Football League. So you start looking at things and from there, you put together strategies and you make adjustments. And you see how those adjustments play out. Hopefully it plays out to where there’s no injuries. The challenge is there’s three buckets of injuries:

“There’s contact injuries. The contact injuries as you know it’s football. They occur in a lot of different ways. Those contact injuries can include a concussion, and include brute force type of injuries. Broken bones, hits to joints, those are tough to prevent.

“You always want to try to put some body armor on a guy if need be. In this league most guys have the appropriate body armor in terms of muscle mass to be able to help absorb force.

“And then the third thing is, looking at soft tissue injuries. Hamstring, quad, hip flexor, calf. Those are types of injuries you have to take that global approach and look at the total volume of work that’s being done on a given week, and then you’re looking at the high-intensity load in practice. So looking at high-intensity sprints—that’s why they have all these GPS monitoring systems now—you look at high intensity sprints. Let’s say someone covers 2000 yards at practice. How much of that 2000 yards was high intensity? High intensity is measured by taking their top speed and then you have a zone to like, 90 percent and above. That is something you want to manage because of, again, fatigue factor. There’s only so much in the well so to speak as it relates to higher intensity sprinting. So those are the primary things you look at.”

There’s not much of an issue of responsibility, which I’m sure people would like to have answered, but Carlisle’s insight certainly is interesting and provides some context on what the trainers are looking at through this injury plagued season so something like this can (hopefully) never happen again.

I’ve time-stamped the podcast. You can listen using the widget above or click here.

01:31 - What he does/who he works with currently
02:35 - Rooting for the refs
03:25 - Arriving with the 49ers in 2005 along with a young Alex Smith/Frank Gore
04:45 - Frank Gore’s durability
06:45 - Overwork for athletes/implementation of recovery
08:30 - ACL injuries and the non-contact nature
10:00 - Jimmy Garoppolo’s knee injury and recovery
11:13 - What a strength and conditioning coach’s role is in the aspect of numerous injuries
14:45 - Opinions of [49ers strength and condition coach] Ray Wright’s program.
16:27 - Working with Raheem Mostert
18:00 - The number of torn ACLs in the NFL
20:47 - Reducing ACL tears via training