Injury Watch: 49ers lose backfield on the way to playoff elimination
Here are the injuries we're monitoring after Sunday's Week 15 action:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Houston Texans (leg): With the fractured leg Fitzpatrick suffered against the Colts on Sunday, the Texans have effectively been eliminated from playoff contention, unless rookie backup Tom Savage (who was also injured in the game) or Case Keenum (who the team signed to help with the positional damage) are able to do something incredibly special and unexpected. Fitzpatrick will sit out the rest of the 2014 season and go forward with one year left on the two-year, $7.5 million contract he signed in March of this year. Fitzpatrick is a perfectly capable backup, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the Texans take a quarterback early in the 2015 draft.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos (thigh): Manning, who was also dealing with flu-like symptoms in Denver's win over the Chargers, tweaked his thigh and missed a series in the second quarter. He was able to come back and play reasonably well, and he'll have an extra day to recover, as the Broncos face the Bengals next Monday. The team has gone to far more of a run-heavy attack in recent weeks, and whether Manning is fully healthy or not, it's reasonable to expect that to continue.
Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers (concussion): The 49ers lost their top two running backs in their loss to the Seattle Seahawks, which effectively ended their power-based gameplan and any chance they had of making the playoffs. Now eliminated from postseason contention for the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era, the team will likely take it slow with Gore, who was concussed as he tried to block Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Gore is a free agent at the end of the season, and he's positive about his future.
"I still love the game," he told me this week. "I still feel like I can still be me, and me being here next year, I don’t know. Like I said before and told everybody, I would love to be here but if they want to move on with the young guys ... they’d do great here and I’d take my talent somewhere else."
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers (back): The 49ers also lost Hyde in the game, and though the injury announced was to Hyde's ankle, further news indicated that Hyde's back is cause for concern. He did hobble off the field after he was bent backward awkwardly in the second half. It will be interesting to see how things play out with Hyde for the rest of the season, as he clearly has the talent to be the team's future franchise back.
Russell Okung, OT, Seattle Seahawks (chest): Okung suffered an injury to his chest wall -- he was coughing up blood and was taken to the hospital, and released shortly thereafter. Backup Alvin Bailey performed fairly well in Okung's stead, but with the Cardinals and Rams defenses upcoming, the Seahawks will certainly hope that Okung can return sooner than later.
Trent Williams, OT, Washington Redskins (shoulder): Williams left Washington's loss to the Giants with a shoulder injury, and was replaced by Tom Compton on the left side of the offensive line. Williams has given up three sacks in the last three games, and two against New York on Sunday. He's also been playing through ankle and knee injuries, and one wonders if the team will simply shut him down as a preventative measure. Williams has one year left on his rookie contract.
Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns (shoulder): Lost in Cincinnati's 30-0 whitewashing of the Browns on Sunday, and all the Johnny Manziel talk it caused, was the fact that Haden suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of that game and did not return. Haden said after the game that he does not believe the injury to be serious. If it is, it's a big blow to a defense that will need to step it up more than ever with Manziel as the projected starter for the rest of the season.
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers (ankle): Allen exited the loss to the Broncos in the third quarter after suffering an ankle injury -- he tried to return, but was eventually carted off and was wearing a walking boot. After an 11-catch, 121-yard performance against the Ravens three weeks ago, Allen has been shut down of late, catching just five balls for 21 yards combined against the Patriots and Broncos. We'll see what Allen's MRI says Monday afternoon.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (hamstring): Hilton played through Indy's win over the Texans with a hamstring issue, catching four passes for 50 yards. After the game, Hilton said that he hoped he'd be OK, and referred to conversations with doctors and an upcoming MRI. If he's out for any length of time in the postseason, that's bad news for the Colts -- Hilton is the team's only consistent aerial target.