By Jerrell Richardson
A look at this week’s injury report seems to be backwards. The 49ers,are the team coming off their bye week, yet have five more players listed than their opponent. However, all eight San Francisco players landing on the injured list are no surprise and not really injured. On the other side, the Panthers have only three total players listed, which is almost unheard of this late in the season, but two out of the three are starters, and could put their team at a disadvantage whether playing or not.
49ers Well Rested After Bye
For the 49ers, the bye week served its purpose—to get the players healthy. While they do have more “so called” injured players this week than before the bye, for all intents and purposes, San Francisco is full strength for the first time all season. Defensive tackles Justin Smith and Ray McDonald have been taking it easy in practice all year, while Ahmad Brooks’ play will not be affected by a stinger. Brooks, Smith and McDonald will all be on the field and showing no signs of their various injuries as they terrorize Cam Newton this Sunday.
The No. 1 ranked rushing offense can’t be thrilled to see running back Frank Gore and his offensive linemen Alex Boone, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati all listed with injuries. But these obvious keys to the offense, along with Quinton Dial, were all full participants in practice. What this means is that they are all fine. In fact, their injuries are less severe than Brooks’ stinger.
San Francisco 49ers
Limited In Practice:
- Ahmad Brooks (Linebacker): Stinger
- Ray McDonald (Defensive Tackle): Biceps
- Justin Smith (Defensive Tackle): Shoulder
- Alex Boone (Guard): Shoulder
- Anthony Davis (Tackle): Shoulder
- Quinton Dial (Defensive Tackle): Ankle
- Frank Gore (Running Back): Ankle
- Mike Iupati (Guard): Elbow
Carolina Is Remarkably Healthy
The Panthers had their bye six weeks ago, yet somehow have only three players listed as injured. While having a healthy team obviously bodes well for the Panthers, the fact remains that two of the players in jeopardy of missing the game could put their team at a disadvantage, if not able to suit up.
Linebacker Chase Blackburn is the team’s starting weak side linebacker, and plays a big role in the team’s No. 1 ranked rush defense. Blackburn has not even practiced this week due to a foot injury, and while he is not ruled out of the game, his mobility will be limited and the 49ers will test him. If unable to play, the Panthers have several players to step in, but they will be thin at a key position, especially when considering the run first 49ers mentality.
The other starter missing practice this week for the Carolina is guard Chris Scott. Between Blackburn and Scott, it’s the offensive guard that can really hurt this team. Not only is Scott the starting right guard, but the team has no real backups for either guard position. If Scott is unable to play, the Panthers will have to do a patchwork job on an offensive line that will need to have success running the ball against San Francisco to win this game. Cornerback James Dockery is the last Panther who missed practice, but is a ways down the depth chart and not nearly as significant as the others.
Did Not Participate In Practice
- Chase Blackburn (Linebacker): Foot
- James Dockery (Cornerback): Shoulder
- Chris Scott (Guard): Knee
Good Match Up
This game features two teams that strongly resemble each other. Both are on a roll, have a good offense and defense and will use smash mouth football to try and overpower their opponent. As each side is healthy they have to like their chances in the game. The Panthers may be without a key starter or two, but in the grand scheme of things, will have all their playmakers on the field, and if they lose, will not point to their health as the reason. San Francisco on the other side has no excuses and their goal other than winning the game is remaining healthy.
For more 49ers news and updates, visit 49ers Central.
Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.