No team in the NFL was hit harder by injury last season than the San Francisco 49ers, which was a big reason why the Niners fell off from nearly winning Super Bowl 55 following the 2019 campaign to 6-10 and last in the NFC West in 2020. Alas, the injury bug already has had a crushing affect for the 2021 Niners with safety Tarvarius Moore and offensive tackle Justin Skule set to miss the year. William Hill Sportsbook lists San Francisco as a +200 second favorite on the NFC West and with an Over/Under win total of 10.0.
Last season, Coach Kyle Shanahan's club lost a whopping 161.6 games to injury, the second-most of any team in the past 20 years via Football Outsiders' adjusted games lost metric. The team's most important defensive player and 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, end Nick Bosa, lasted just two games before going down for the year. QB Jimmy Garoppolo played six games. Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle played eight. No position was left untouched.
While some mandatory minicamps already are underway around the NFL – including in Green Bay without Aaron Rodgers – the Niners are their final week of organized team activities with minicamp next week. Moore and Skule both went down Monday, Moore with a torn Achilles and Skule with a torn ACL. Are those two injuries going to shift the futures odds on the Niners? No, but they are important.
Moore, who has appeared in all 48 games over the past three seasons with 13 starts, was challenging for a starting job at safety but at worst would have been the primary backup behind Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmy Ward. Moore took first-team reps Monday while Tartt rehabbed a toe injury. Moore had 52 tackles with a pass defensed and forced fumble in 2020.
It's not impossible that Moore could return late in the season. San Francisco did sign veteran safety Tony Jefferson on Monday. The former Raven hasn't played in a game since October 2019 after suffering a serious knee injury.
Skule has played in 31 regular-season games over the past two years with 12 starts at tackle and guard. He was projected to be the swing tackle job as potential relief behind right tackle Mike McClinchey and Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. According to Niners beat writers, Skule had been lining up as the starting left tackle in place of a resting Williams so far this offseason. Shon Coleman could fill in for Skule, but Coleman opted out of last season, missed the 2019 campaign due to injuries and was inactive all of 2018 after being acquired from the Browns.
Back in May, running back Jeff Wilson Jr. underwent surgery on a torn meniscus that will sideline him for 4-6 months. He may start the regular season on the PUP list, which would mean missing the first six weeks. Wilson was to be competing for the No. 2 running back spot behind Raheem Mostert, but now that role may to go rookie Trey Sermon.
The Niners are the biggest Week 1 favorites on the board, giving 7.5 points in Detroit on Sept. 12.
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