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Injury Report: 49ers Head To Chicago With Banged-Up Linebackers

By Sam McPherson

Even though San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman has not missed a game this season coming off his horrendous injuries from the 2013 playoffs, the team and its fans have to wonder how much longer he can keep playing so well during a season that seems lost. The 49ers are just 3-8, and Bowman has made 105 tackles in those 11 games this season.

However, he often misses Wednesday workouts resting, and on Thursdays, he is usually just a limited participant. Bowman is a veteran, second in the NFL in total tackles, and this is his required routine to be effective. He knows what he is doing. Despite showing up on the injury report the same way almost every week this season with various ailing body parts, Bowman is still out there leading a rag-tag defensive unit for the San Francisco organization.

This week he has some company on the injury report as fellow linebacker Michael Wilhoite (ankle) joined Bowman (finger, shoulder) in the Wednesday/Thursday routine noted above. Since Wilhoite doesn't have Bowman's history, this is something to keep an eye on for Sunday's game where Wilhoite may be a game-time decision. This is huge, because he is the NFL's ninth-leading tackler this season. The two LBs are the heart and soul of the 49ers defense this season.

To top it all off, linebacker Ahmad Brooks (toe) was limited both Wednesday and Thursday in practice, and he, too, is questionable for Sunday's game. While Brooks is not the tackling machine his mates are, he is still a veteran presence on a defense lacking continuity from prior years and high levels of success. There's a big drop from this trio to the second-string players on the linebacking unit.

On the other side of the ball, both tight end Garrett Celek (ankle) and running back Carlos Hyde (foot) will miss the Chicago game. Hyde has actually been ruled out for the season now, although he has not been placed on the injured reserve list. Celek could return down the line if things progress for his injury. Obviously, both players did not participate in workouts this week.

Considering the 49ers offense is now without its Opening Night starting quarterback, running back and tight end, it's no wonder the team is dead last in the NFL for yards gained and points scored. Of course, there were problems even with Colin Kaepernick at QB, but a lot of this season's offensive challenges come down to Hyde being unable to go 100 percent since Week 1 when he was so dominant. Fans have to wonder what the season might have been like if Hyde had been able to stay healthy.

Three other players were limited in workouts this week but are expected to play on Sunday: defensive tackle Arik Armstead (shoulder), offensive guard Alex Boone (triceps) and offensive tackle Erik Pears (knee). Boone and Pears have started all 11 games this year, while Armstead has played in all 11 games in 2015. Expect nothing different this weekend against the Chicago Bears from this trio.

Arik Armstead, Defensive Tackle (shoulder)
Alex Boone, Offensive Guard (triceps)
NaVorro Bowman, Linebacker (finger, shoulder)
Erik Pears, Offensive Tackle (knee)

Ahmad Brooks, Linebacker (toe)
Michael Wilhoite, Linebacker (ankle)

Garrett Celek, Tight End (ankle)
Carlos Hyde, Running Back (foot0

Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.

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