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Golden Nuggets: 49ers season hinges on three ACL’s

San Francisco 49ers links for Saturday July 6, 2019

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

In anatomy, the knee is classified as a hinge joint. And Merriam Webster defines the verb ‘hinge’ as “being contingent on a single consideration or point”. Which means that the 49ers upcoming season literally hinges on, well, hinges.

As most Niners fans know by now, the 49ers will have three key players returning from ACL injuries suffered in 2018:

  1. Starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who suffered his injury in late September.
  2. RB Jerrick McKinnon who was expected to start in 2018 before suffering an ACL tear on the last play of the last practice prior to the start of the season.
  3. LB Kwon Alexander, signed as a free agent in March, and expected to play a significant role in the 49ers defense in 2019.

The question, of course, is what can we expect from these three in 2019 realistically? And while we won’t know the answer for another two months, there are reasons for optimism. In general, players recovering from ACL injuries report a two year timetable before feeling completely healed, or back to their old self. But there have been plenty of players to perform well in year one post injury.

Adrian Peterson is most frequently mentioned in the discussion. He returned from his ACL injury in 2012 and rushed for over 2,000 yards. Jamaal Charles, another RB, followed up his 2011 ACL injury shortened season by rushing for over 1,500 yards.

But what about QB’s? Plenty of examples here as well. Tom Brady tore his ACL in 2008, and returned in 2009 to throw for over 4,000 yards passing leading the Patriots back to the playoffs. Even more impressive, Carson Palmer tore his ACL for a second time in 2014 at the age of 34. And yet, he returned the following year to set new career highs in passing yards (4,671), touchdowns (35), yards per completion (8.70) and passer rating (104.6)

And finally, linebackers. For a dose of optimism, look no further than ex-Carolina Panthers LB Thomas Davis. In 2011, Davis tore his ACL for the third time in 23 months, and looked to be done. Instead, he rehabbed and was in the starting lineup for the first game of the 2012 season. He would go on to play in 105 of a possible 112 games for the Panthers over the next seven seasons, including three pro bowl appearances and first team all pro in 2015.

So, while it’s true that the 49ers path to success in 2019 is paved with torn ACL’s, it’s not all gloom and doom. And for those 49ers fans who prefer to lean optimistic, and see the glass as half full, there are plenty of examples of post ACL success to justify those rose colored glasses.

And now onto the links:

3 second-year 49ers who’ll break out in 2019 (Peter Panacy, NinerNoise)

6 under-the-radar 49ers to know heading into camp (Kyle Madson, NinersWire)

John Lynch, 49ers show support for hometown players on United States women’s national soccer team (David Bonilla, 49ers WebZone)

49ers’ 2019 ‘Who Is?’ series: Quarterback Wilton Speight (Peter Panacy, NinerNoise)

Milt McColl helped 49ers win a Super Bowl. At 59, he’s practicing medicine (Tom FitzGerald, San Francisco Chronicle)

Ford and Bosa Expected to Give 49ers’ Defense an Edge (Doug Williams, NBC Bay Area)

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