First, a disclaimer: We do not wish injuries upon anyone.
That clarified, it is undeniable that lining up opposite the 49ers defense can be hazardous to your health. While none of the resulting injuries will be celebrated, the physical, punishing, will-imposing style of Vic Fangio's defensive unit can, and should, be lauded.In the first seven games of the season, only three opposing starting backs completed their contest in good health.Felix Jones was the first victim, suffering a separated shoulder in Week 2. Fortunately, he did not miss any time.
LeGarrette Blount was taken down by DaShon Goldson and sprained his MCL in Week 5. He missed the Buccaneers' next two games.Former Cal Bear Jahvid Best might have got it the worst. He quietly left the game in the fourth quarter, and, only afterward, reports surfaced that he suffered a concussion that would end his promising sophomore season.
"We had a hard time getting the run game going," Lions coach Jim Schwartz observed after the loss.After a bye week, it was malady for the Browns' Montario Hardesty, who tore a calf muscle and missed four games.At this point in the season, going into a Week 9 matchup with the Redskins, we took the time to ask, is it a bad week to be a Washington ball carrier?Since their statement stretch to open the year, the 49ers have mellowed out, allowing all but one of the remaining regular season opposing backs good health. Steven Jackson left the Week 13 game with a injured biceps muscle.But playoffs are playoffs.In his NFC Championship press conference, safety Donte Whitner said that a big hit early in the game "sets the tone, and lets the offense know they're in for a long day." The first seven games the 49ers defense put together let every offensive player in the league know they were in for a long season. And on the opening drive of the 49ers' Divisional-round matchup with the Saints, Whitner delivered that hit, laying into Pierre Thomas with a gruesome tackle that knocked Thomas unconscious, the football falling from his locked-up arms.Thomas would not return to the game, finishing with just one rush for six yards, a fumble and a concussion.Just as the 49ers set the tone for the season in their first seven games, they set the tone for their playoff run in the first series.Offensive players "dont want a physical game," Whitner said. "They want an easy day, they want to run out of bounds, they dont want guys hitting them."With Whitner, Goldson, Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman, and Patrick Willis among the 49ers tacklers, New York's offensive players won't get that wish.
Nate Stuhlbarg is a web producer with CSNBayArea.com. Follow him on Twitter @StuhlbargCSN.
First-year coach Kyle Shanahan is close to completing his 49ers coaching staff.
Shanahan will handle the duties of the offensive coordinator, the position he held with Houston, Washington and Atlanta over the past nine NFL seasons.
Robert Saleh is the 49ers' new defensive coordinator, while Richard Hightower has been hired as the special-teams coordiator.
Here's a look at the 49ers' coaching staffs under Shanahan and last season under Chip Kelly:
2017 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (2016 job)
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan (Falcons, offensive coordinator)
Defensive coordinator: Robert Saleh (Jaguars, linebackers coach)
Special teams coordinator: Richard Hightower (Bears, assistant special teams)
Assistant head coach/tight ends: Jon Embree (Buccaneers, tight ends)
Run game specialist: Mike McDaniel (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Quarterbacks: Rich Scangarello (Wagner, offensive coordinator)
Running backs: Bobby Turner (Falcons, running backs)
Wide receivers: Mike LaFleur (Falcons, offensive assistant)
Offensive line: Vacant
Offensive assistant: T.C. McCartney (LSU, offensive assistant)
Senior defensive assistant: Jason Tarver (49ers, outside linebackers)
Defensive line: Jeff Zgonina (N.Y. Giants, assistant defensive line)
Linebackers: Johnny Holland (Browns, inside linebackers)
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Offensive quality control: Taylor Embree (Chiefs, defensive assistant)
Defensive quality control: Bobby Slowik
Head strength and conditioning: Ray Wright
* * *
2016 49ERS COACHING STAFF
Position: Coach (current status)
Head coach: Chip Kelly
Offensive coordinator: Curtis Modkins (Bears, running backs)
Defensive coordinator: Jim O’Neil
Special teams coordinator: Derius Swinton
Quarterbacks: Ryan Day (Ohio State, quarterbacks)
Running backs: Tom Rathman
Wide receivers: Bob Bicknell
Tight ends: Jeff Nixon (Baylor, co-offensive coordinator/running backs)
Offensive line: Pat Flaherty (Jaguars, offensive line)
Assistant offensive line: Eric Wolford (South Carolina, offensive line)
Defensive line: Jerry Azzinaro (Cal, defensive line)
Assistant defensive line: Vince Oghobaase
Outside linebackers: Jason Tarver (49ers, senior defensive assistant)
Inside linebacker: Joe Bowden
Defensive backs: Jeff Hafley (49ers, defensive backs)
Assistant defensive backs: Roy Anderson (Bears, assistant secondary)
Assistant special teams: Michael Clay
Offensive quality control: Mick Lombardi (Jets, offensive assistant/assistant QBs coach)
Defensive quality control: Tem Lukabu
Senior analyst: Dana Bible
Director of human performance: Mark Uyeyama
John Benton, who coached on the same staff during Kyle Shanahan’s four seasons with the Houston Texans, has reportedly received permission from the Denver Broncos to interview with the 49ers.
The Broncos hired Benton on Jan. 15 to work as the team’s assistant offensive line coach under line coach Jeff Davidson.
But Denver coach Vance Joseph and general manager John Elway provided Benton permission to interview with the 49ers, Denver’s 9News reported. The Sacramento Bee was first to report the 49ers were looking at Benton.
The offensive line coach is the last major position that remains vacant on Shanahan’s staff.
Benton worked last season as Jacksonville’s assistant offensive line coach. He worked the previous 13 seasons as offensive line coach with the St. Louis Rams (2003-05), Houston (2006-2013) and Miami (2014-15).
Shanahan’s first NFL coaching job was with Houston in 2006, when he coached wide receivers. Shanahan became the quarterbacks coach with the Texans in 2007 before spending the next two seasons as offensive coordinator under then-coach Gary Kubiak.
The 49ers announced nine additions to the coaching staff on Friday.
Also, the 49ers are expected to hire Daniel Bullocks as assistant defensive backs coach, according to The Sporting News. Bullocks worked in the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. The Jaguars' linebackers coach last season, Robert Saleh, is the 49ers' new defensive coodinator. Bullocks appeared in 31 games in three NFL seasons with the Detroit Lions in 2006 and '08.