Later this offseason, Football Outsiders will release their adjusted games lost stat, which details how teams stacked up in terms of injuries. Without having that information before us, we know the San Francisco 49ers were ravaged by injuries in 2018. Jimmy Garoppolo was the most notable name lost to injury, but they lost a sizable number of starters on both sides of the ball.
We remember the big names on IR, but there are plenty of players who flew under the radar once they went on IR. Now that we are into the offseason, players shave been formally removed from IR and added back to the offseason 90-man roster. I thought now would be a good time to re-introduce some of these names. The list below is in order of when players were placed on season-ending injured reserve.
RB Jerick McKinnon: September 3
Kyle Shanahan acknowledged that McKinnon’s torn ACL put a crimp in his plans for the offense. Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson all took advantage of the opportunities presented by McKinnon’s absence, but the 49ers clearly have big plans for Jet in 2019. Breida’s emergence will make for a fascinating competition in OTAs, minicamp, and training camp.
LB Brock Coyle: September 12
The 49ers linebacker plans went south in a hurry this season thanks to injuries and then Reuben Foster’s release. Coyle started in place of a suspended Foster in Week 1, but he suffered a C4 compression fracture in his back and went on IR shortly after. The 49ers signed him to a three-year extension last March, and he’ll be competing with Elijah Lee and potentially Malcolm Smith for some kind of role. Fred Warner will be starting at middle linebacker, and the question then is who will be starting at weak side linebacker.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: September 26
The big one. Everything changed with this injury, and expectations for 2019 depend almost entirely on how Garoppolo returns from injury. Shanahan has said he thinks Garoppolo can be throwing in time for OTAs and minicamp, but until we see him on the field, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any and all news.
S Adrian Colbert: October 22
Colbert went on injured reserve after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 7. He was inconsistent after a solid close to 2017. In his absence, Jaquiski Tartt, Antone Exum, and D.J. Reed have all gotten playing time back there. 49ers fans (and Richard Sherman) are intrigued by the possibility of signing Earl Thomas. If the 49ers approach Thomas, that will tell us a lot more about what they think of Colbert and the rest of the free safeties.
RB Raheem Mostert: November 2
Two straight years Raheem Mostert has been the 49ers best special teams coverage player, and two years he has been placed on injured reserve. He suffered an MCL sprain in 2017 and a fractured forearm in 2018. The difference in 2018 was that he was a revelation as a running back, albeit in a small sample size. He worked his way into the running back rotation behind Breida, and had three big games. He finished his season with 261 rushing yards, averaging 7.7 yards per carry. I don’t think anybody saw this coming, and now he hits restricted free agency. The 49ers have a decision to make with how much they want to tender him, and what kind of role they foresee coming off an impressive 2018 season.
CB Emmanuel Moseley: November 2
The 49ers signed Moseley to the practice squad after final roster cuts. They promoted him to the 53-man roster on November 1st after having to rule out Antone Exum and Jaquiski Tartt, and having questions about Richard Sherman’s availability. Moseley played three special teams snaps before injuring his shoulder and going on IR. It is worth noting that at one point, his practice squad salary was roughly the equivalent of a 53-man roster spot. The team likes him, and maybe he earns a bigger opportunity this year.
DB Jimmie Ward: November 27
It was quite the year for the 49ers fifth year player. Injuries were once again a problem, as he missed a pair of games early in the season and then went on IR with a broken forearm. He opened the season as a reserve outside cornerback, and moved into the starting lineup in Week 3. After two weeks starting, he was out for a game with an injury, back in the starting lineup, and then out for another game. When he returned to the lineup in Week 8, the 49ers moved him to free safety in place of Adrian Colbert. He played there for three weeks, then broke his forearm. Ward is an unrestricted free agent, and I honestly have no idea what his market will look like this spring.
LB Dekoda Watson: December 5
The 49ers actually placed Watson on injured reserve to open the season due to a hamstring injury. They eventually used one of their return designations to bring him (and Marcell Harris) back on November 1st. He played a right end role in his Week 9 return and had 1.5 sacks that week and another half sack in Week 10. He played two more games after the bye before suffering a season-ending calf injury. He lost weight prior to his midseason return, and could be someone to watch as a rotational guy in 2019. He is due a base salary of $1,450,000, roster bonus money of $200,000 and a $50,000 workout bonus. It’s not too expensive for a solid special teamer and decent rotational option.
WR Pierre Garçon: December 11
It was a brutal season for Garçon, who suffered a knee injury in Week 5 and was nagged by it until the team finally put him on injured reserve in Week 15. Prior to the injury, he had 24 receptions for 286 yards and one touchdown in eight active games. Coming off a 2017 season cut short by a neck injury, one has to wonder if he is nearing the end of the road. Kendrick Bourne and others will push him hard if he is not released early in the offseason.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: December 18
This was one of the more disappointing injuries. Witherspoon had a rough start to the season, with inconsistent play resulting in a benching between Week 5 and 6. However, Witherspoon was starting to come on in the back half of the season before the injury ended his season in Week 15. He faces a significant competition from Tarvarius Moore this coming offseason, and the 49ers very well could add another cornerback to compete.
S Jaquiski Tartt: December 21
It was another up and down year for Tartt, who suffered a shoulder injury in Week 1. When healthy, has been a solid safety — earning a two-year extension last offseason. However, the shoulder injury was an issue that nagged him much of the season. He missed four games during the season before the final injury in Week 13 landed him on IR. Rookie Marcell Harris showed some signs in his place and will compete at the strong safety role. Adrian Colbert returns to compete at free safety. Tartt could be competing at both positions in 2019, or could potentially work his way into a money-backer type of role.
RB Matt Breida: December 29
It was a breakout campaign for Breida, but a nagging ankle injury eventually ended his season. Breida had 814 rushing yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, and 261 receiving yards before going on IR in the final week. He got a huge chance after McKinnon went on IR, and he ran with it. It could make for a heck of a duo seeing Breida and McKinnon complementing each other out of the backfield in 2019.
WR Dante Pettis: December 29
Halfway through the season, it was looking like a mostly lost season for the second round pick. However, he took over for Marquise Goodwin in Week 12 and looked great for a four week stretch. He had 17 receptions for 338 yards and four touchdowns in that four game stretch. George Kittle was the leading pass catcher during that period, but Pettis showed he could be a big-time playmaker in the passing game. The 49ers need another playmaker on offense, but maybe the 49ers look for another big time tight end and stick with their receiving corps as is?