By Sam McPherson
Forget all the drama this week surrounding San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick. The team is hurting physically, despite the long respite after the Week 7 loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks a week ago Thursday. Seven key players are questionable for Sunday's Week 8 road contest against the St. Louis Rams.
Media drama is one thing the 49ers cannot control, and perhaps they cannot control the injuries, either. A 2-5 season already looks lost for San Francisco, and with these injuries, there could be several more losses to come in 2015. Kaepernick himself was a full participant in Wednesday and Thursday workouts, despite that hand/finger injury to his throwing arm; however, other players on the roster were not so fortunate this week.
On Thursday, wide receiver Anquan Boldin (hamstring), offensive guard Alex Boone (shoulder, knee), linebacker NaVorro Bowman (shoulder), linebacker Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), safety Eric Reid (chest) and offensive tackle Joe Staley (shoulder) all were limited in practice.
Meanwhile, running back Carlos Hyde (foot) was unable to workout with the team on both Wednesday and Thursday, making his presence on the field Sunday doubtful. Bowman was unable to go on Wednesday as well, but he improved enough to be limited on Thursday.
These seven key injuries put the 49ers in a precarious position, especially with the long layoff between games. That extra time is supposed to help a team heal, but San Francisco isn't getting that benefit at all. Even if these players manage to see the field in St. Louis, one little tweak could put them on the sideline against a feisty opponent.
Hyde is very important to Kaepernick's success, of course, as are Boldin, Boone and Staley. The 49ers QB has been sacked 25 times this year already, on pace for career-high number (57, which would top the 52 sacks Kaepernick took in 2014). Even with veteran targets like Boldin, WR Torrey Smith, TE Vernon Davis and RB Reggie Bush, the S.F. offense has stalled through the air this year.
Rumors early in the week suggested maybe the 49ers would sit Kaepernick because of his hand/finger problem, but that doesn't seem to be the case now. The S.F. organization needs to see what their QB has over the next nine games before deciding whether or not to keep him on the roster come offseason when roster bonuses kick in.
If Hyde can't play, it cripples Kaepernick and the whole offense since throwing the ball is not the team's strength. Likewise, with the linebacker corps bruised, the 49ers defense may be vulnerable to the Rams running attack, led by super rookie RB Todd Gurley.
San Francisco already lost safety Antoine Bethea for the season as well, another key member of the already-struggling defense gone. The 49ers will have their hands full with Gurley, but the St. Louis offense also has speedy wideouts and a big tight end to cover. QB Nick Foles has shown sustained stretches of success in the NFL, even if he isn't a Super Bowl-winning QB like the several San Francisco has faced already this season.
Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback (hand/finger)
Erik Pears, Offensive Tackle (back)
Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver (hamstring)
Alex Boone, Offensive Guard (shoulder, knee)
NaVorro Bowman, Linebacker (shoulder)
Ahmad Brooks, Linebacker (shoulder)
Eric Reid, Safety (chest)
Joe Staley, Offensive Tackle (shoulder)
Carlos Hyde, Running Back (foot)
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.
for more features.