Pre-season Took Toll On 49ers
August 26 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The NFLís pre-season has sure taken its toll on the 49ers. Once a healthy team ready for the season, the 49ers status has taken a 180 degree turn for the worse. Pre-season games can do that to any team, and while they are important, playing five of them is meaningless, and downright cruel. Just ask some of the 49ers who have been injured to the point of missing practices, games or even the entire season.
Jeff Ulbrich is the most recent addition to the severe injury list. The starting linebacker hyper-extended his knee playing in the games against the Raiders. Ulbrich will miss three to six weeks. That could mean the 49ers will have to start Jamie Winborn for as many as five regular season games. Some fans may believe having to start Winborn though, is actually a blessing in disguise.
Other players like Jeremy Newberry and Ron Stone, both offensive lineman have missed practice time and exhibition games due to injuries. The 49ers are hoping to have both these men back for opening day, if not, Jeff Garcia better get ready for another pounding.
Others like rookie safety Kevin Curtis were not as lucky. Curtis was injured in a pre-season game, and will miss his entire rookie season as a result.
Of course there have been others who were tweaked at some point down the road. Bruises, bumps, pulls, and every other minor injury. Players are playing through pain for games in which they donít even get paid to play in. It simply doesnít make sense.
Football and injury go hand in hand. There is no doubt that when a game is on, there is going to be at least a minor injury. To subject certain teams to more games than others, especially when they donít count for anything doesnít make any sense. To force them to play three times in nine days to accomplish this makes even less sense. Football players need time to let their bodies heal. The NFL could easily have let the 49ers play four games, including the one in Japan. It could have been done. Instead, they have subjected them to cruel and unusual punishment. If only objecting would actually matter.