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A 49ers preseason game, the Raiders, a quarterback’s finger. What do these things have in common?

Sep 2, 2021 at 12:23 PM--

Ok, let's play a game: What do these three things have in common?

  1. A San Francisco 49ers preseason game.
  2. The "Non-Oakland" Raiders.
  3. A quarterback injuring his finger.

If you guessed 49ers history, you win! When rookie quarterback Trey Lance injured his right index finger last Sunday, I immediately thought back to a 1993 preseason game, when the 49ers played the Los Angeles Raiders, and quarterback Steve Young suffered a hairline fracture in his left thumb (his throwing hand). The injury did not require surgery, but he missed about a month. Young, who was the reigning NFL MVP, threw for 240 yards and passed for three touchdowns as the 49ers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-13 in the opening game of the regular season, despite his broken thumb. He said his thumb was swelling some before the game, so he had center Jesse Sapolu snap the ball into his right hand to alleviate the pressure on his passing hand.

Things are a little different now, of course.

First, Lance isn't the starter; Jimmy Garoppolo is...we think. The 49ers don't have to rush Lance before he's ready, or before he's healed. In 1993, Young was the starter. Steve Bono was the backup quarterback, who one week after Young's injury, sustained a separated left shoulder. He missed two months. The third-string quarterback was Bill Musgrave. But even he was dealing with bruised ribs. So the 49ers quarterback situation was a little up in the air at the time. Remember, the team had traded Joe Montana the previous offseason.

Second, Lance is a rookie. Young was a two-time passing leader, on his way to being a six-time passing leader, Super Bowl MVP and inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lance is also a rookie who didn't play much in college, and sometimes has passes that lack a little accuracy. Young was one of the most accurate passers in history by 1993.

Third, the injury to Lance's finger is not as severe as the injury to Young's thumb. Lance's injury was described as "a chip." Dr. Nirav Pandya says this as "another way of referring to a small piece of bone that has likely pulled off (avulsed) the finger where tissue attaches to it. Likely means it is quite small." He describes it as "...a common injury when the finger is 'jammed' (hyperextended). The middle 'knuckle' of the finger is usually affected. The tissue that connects the fingers can stretch & pull off a 'chip' of bone." So Lance's injury does not seem to be as bad as Young's, nor will he miss as much time.

But there are a few similarities.

  1. Both injuries happened in a preseason game.
  2. Both games were against the "non-Oakland Raiders." (Los Angeles in 1993. Las Vegas in 2021)
  3. Both injuries were sustained by hitting the helmet of an opposing player.
  4. Both teams have Super Bowl rosters with hopes of winning it all.

Of course, neither of these finger/thumb injuries can compare to the hand injury heard round the world, when Leonard Marshall hit Montana, and...well...I'm still not ready to talk about that.

Let's hope for now that history repeats itself with Lance and Young, and that Lance returns for Week 1. And wins Super Bowl MVP the following year.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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