Medical Watch- 05/19/2000
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If a team could go a whole season without one injury, they would likely be playoff bound. Unfortunately, the probability of an injury free season is about the same as being struck by lighting. It's a sad tale, but one that needs to be told. The NFL has become a dangerous place for players - plagued with knee injuries, MRI's and concussions. The situation has gotten so bad that included in the 49ers 1999 media guide is a medical term dictionary of sorts. The 49ers are no exception to the rule. Since the season's end, talk of players recovering from injuries - including Steve Young, Garrison Hearst, Dave Fiore, Zack Bronson, and Bryant Young, have permeated into the media.

As training camp approaches, the recovery of these players is becoming increasingly crucial. The 9ers need to know if they can count on these players to contribute during the season. Steve Young seems to be the biggest concern for his team. His concussion prone head has the 49ers worrying as to if they should let him play again. Furthermore, Young's salary puts the team in an even worse situation.

Steve Young currently claims to be recovered from his last concussion but is undecided about his future in football. There have been many rumors that Young will leave the 9ers in favor of Denver, but there is plenty of reason to believe differently. For starters, even though Denver runs a similar offence, Young would still have to re-learn the terminology. Secondly it is a fact that no quarterback in his first year with a team has won a Super Bowl. In fact, only one, Dan Marino, has even made it that far (Warner was with the Rams for part of the 1998 season). Thus Steve Young will likely due one of two things, either remain a 49er or retire. Either way, the 49ers and Young are working on a decision that will be most beneficial to both sides.

Garrison Hearst missed all of last season after suffering an injury against the Falcons in the playoffs. His injury involved a complication that hinders blood from flowing to the ankle, making bone growth much harder. As a result, Hearst has undergone surgery after surgery in the hopes to be the first NFL players to recover from an injury of this sort. The 49ers were hoping Hearst could return last season, even after signing Garner. This season will likely be Hearst's last if he can't get back into game playing shape. Luckily Garner proved himself last season, when he averaged five yards a carry.

The 49ers lack of depth along the offensive line makes the knee injury of Dave Fiore even worse. Fiore could be the best player along the line, and currently he is expected to miss playing until training camp at the earliest. The 49ers will be looking desperately to fill in the need at tackle.

Zack Bronson, who spent the past several seasons as a back-up safety is recovering from an injury this season too. Bronson's injury though not as serious as the rest of the team will hinder him in the competition for starting safety. Thus, second year man Peirson Prioleau appears to have the inside track.

Bryant Young, who suffered one of the most devastating injuries football has ever seen; breaking both bones in his leg with a crack so loud the stadium was silenced, had a tremendous comeback last season. This past off-season though Young was scheduled to have the titanium rod in his leg removed. Unfortunately, the rod adhered to his leg, and had to leave it inside. Young is now recovering from some inflammation, and should be up to his usual ability during the regular season.

Most of the recoveries are progressing quite nicely. The greatest concern seems to be about Steve Young and Garrison Hearst. The team may not have time to wait to see if these two can fully recover though. A decision will have to be made soon as the 49ers are trying desperately to re-build themselves into the powerhouse they once were. Players like Young and Hearst may become victims of injury, as the 49ers look for young, vibrant and most of all healthy players to complete the team.
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