Why the 49ers Have Ranked Top 10 in Injuries the Past Eight Seasons

It's clear something changed in 2013. Before then, the 49ers had good injury "luck." Since then, they've had terrible injury "luck." Something bigger than luck must be at play.
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The 49ers are an excellent team when healthy. But they're never healthy.

The 49ers have ranked top 10 in the NFL in games lost to injury each of the past eight seasons. That's a horrendous trend. Last season, they lost the most games to injury of any team in the league. 

See for yourself:

According to that chart, here's where the 49ers ranked in terms of games lost to injury since 2008. The higher the ranking, the more games lost. Which means the lower the ranking, the better.

2008: 25th

2009: 23rd

2010: 28th

2011: 25th

2012: 32nd

2013: 10th

2014: 5th

2015: 7th

2016: 9th

2017: 10th

2018: 4th

2019: 6th

2020: 1st

It's clear something changed in 2013. Before then, the 49ers had good injury "luck." Since then, they've had terrible injury "luck." Something bigger than luck must be at play.

In 2013, former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke started drafting red-shirt players, meaning guys who were hurt when they were drafted and were expecting to miss their rookie seasons. That year, Baalke drafted Tank Carradine in Round 2 and Marcus Lattimore in Round 4. Baalke would go on to draft at least one red-shirt player every year after 2013 until the 49ers fired him in 2017.

His replacement, John Lynch, hasn't drafted many red shirts, although Kentavius Street was one. Instead, Lynch signs players who are coming off major injuries, such as Kwon Alexander, or trades for players with extensive injury histories, such as Dee Ford.

It seems the 49ers made an organizational decision in 2013 to devalue durability. It almost seems like they prefer injury-prone players, because they're cheaper than the durable ones.

Bad decision. Durability matters. Hopefully the 49ers have figured that out.