The San Francisco 49ers finished the 2018 season with 14 players on injured reserve. That number is surprisingly lower than the 20-player mark the team finished at in 2017.

The 49ers' bad luck on the injury front may have been more noticeable this season because the team lost a number of key starters, including its franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, and featured running back, Jerick McKinnon. A lot of this season's potential success was riding on those two players alone.

"I think things might have been easier if we had our quarterback," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters on Monday. "I didn't look at it as going into this year, 'Hey, we're a 10-win team.' I looked at it this year as, 'Man, I think we've got a team that I don't see anyone on paper that we don't have a chance to beat.' And I felt very good about that. It makes it harder the more guys you lose."

The injury bug hit the running back group so hard that Shanahan eventually had to look to the practice squad just to find players to carry the football on Sundays.

The injuries didn't stop there. Running back Jeff Wilson, who spent most of the season on the practice squad, was carted off the field with a shoulder injury during Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams.

In fact, all 10 of the players on the 49ers' initial practice squad ended up on active rosters this season.

"I think it says a lot, too, that all 10 of our practice squad guys this year played on the active roster this year, nine for our team and one for another team," Shanahan added. "That's not something that you want to happen as a coach. That usually means that you have some injuries and stuff."

Shanahan knows the 49ers have to focus on staying healthier next season to find success.

"It's been too big of a deal for two years," Shanahan said. "Injuries are pretty random, but it's also affected us huge. So, that's something that we definitely have to sit back and really look at it from all angles and put a lot of time into. Just try to find a better perspective at it."

"There's an old adage in football," general manager John Lynch added, "I don't know if it's exclusive to football, but your best ability is availability. We haven't had a lot of guys available, and that's something we're looking into hard. It's been ongoing.

"We'll continue to do that because it's something that needs to change and I don't think anyone's to blame. We have been studying it. We'll continue to, and try to get a handle on that."

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