Injuries force the 49ers to reconsider players' roles
September 24, 2006 at 11:19 PM • 0 comments
A couple of key injuries during the San Francisco 49ers' attempt at a comeback against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday have presented some interesting questions for the coaches of the team.
During an impressive goal line stand by the Eagles late in the third quarter, 49ers rookie tight end Vernon Davis and second year running back Frank Gore were both injured on the same play. Davis suffered a cracked bone in his leg while Gore strained his abdominal muscle. The severity of the injuries was not known immediately after the play. Davis was injured trying to chase down Philadelphia’s Mike Patterson after Gore’s goal line fumble on 3rd and 1.
"I was trying to tackle him and I just pulled up," Davis said. "I didn't make any contact. I felt something and just fell down."
Davis has struggled during his rookie season. He has often dropped easy passes and has attempted to make circus catches with one hand rather than a more practical and secure reception. He may be wearing number 85, but the team got rid of Brandon Lloyd because of his inconsistencies and it is a shame to see those same problems with Davis.
In his place, Eric Johnson came in and looked like the reliable veteran we had all known prior to his injury. Johnson had 7 catches for 87 yards against the Eagles. During the entire season, Davis has had 5 catches for 37 yards. In fact, 4 of Johnson's catches came after Davis was carted away. During those 4 receptions, Johnson totaled 57 yards including Alex Smith's lone touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in the game. Johnson is clearly more valuable to Alex Smith at this time. There is no doubt that Davis has all the talent to one day be a force in the NFL, but for now, Johnson is our best tight end and should have been starting from day one.
During the same goal line stand by the Eagles, Gore once again let the football get loose from his arms. It was his third fumble in three games.
"It concerns me," said San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan. "The second two happened the same way. He hits the pile and gets the ball knocked out."
After being injured on that play, rookie running back Michael Robinson came. During his time in the game, he ran the ball 5 times for 29 yards and 2 touchdowns including an impressive tackle evading 13 yard run at the end of the third quarter. In fact, Robinson was placed in goal line situations twice during the game and came away with touchdowns during both instances.
Once has to wonder if Robinson would make a better goal line running back with his performance today. Gore would still remain the feature back, but with the problems he has had holding on to the football, Robinson might provide a nice change of pace when the team is within striking distance of the endzone.
Davis will be out of the lineup for about 4 weeks and Gore is currently listed as questionable for next week’s showdown on the road against the Chiefs. After that, they get the Raiders at home. The Raiders have yet to score a touchdown during the season and may be the worst team in the league. After that, they will face a very tough Chargers team in San Francisco before heading into their bye week.
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