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NFL

The 49ers Win One, Lose Lots

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 20: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers is carted off the field after sustaining an injury during the first half against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 20, 2020 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers performed an exotic middle on themselves Sunday, and yes, that is every bit as great, lousy and creepy as it sounds.

On a day in which they were paired with the tubercular New York Jets, meaning an emphatically automatic win, they were also savaged with injuries to important players to go with the injuries to important players they already had lost, meaning that go they will go into Week 3 wondering why they have to go into Week 3 at all. They could pull a Baylor or a Charlotte.

Or, just as possible, wondering if they can’t play Week 3 in West Virginia rather than the killing fields of East Rutherford.

Between Nick Bosa’s ACL, a likely similar injury to defensive line compatriot Solomon Thomas, a high ankle sprain to quarterback Jimmy Brows and running back Raheem Mostert’s leg reaction to the green creosote turf, described by various players as “spongy,” “sticky” and the less agronomically specific “trash,” and which will also be their surface this coming week when they play the equally repulsive Giants.

In fairness, the Giants and Steelers reported no such carnage when they played a week earlier, so maybe the field only destroys legs in alternate weeks. Still, with a roster already fraying at the edges, the 49ers have to figure out if this was the ground or the unseen hand of the reaper.

In other words, the 49ers managed to turn their season around after an opening week loss to Arizona and turned it around again when the next chapter of the injury list was released.

The Bosa, Thomas, Garoppolo and Mostert injuries (running back Tevin Coleman also received a knee injury, but by then people’s eyes had already glossed over) came atop injuries a week ago to robo–tight end George Kittle, defensive lineman Dee Ford and an earlier cracked hoof for wide receiver Deebo Samuel. This suggests that their injuries are only due in part to the lousy surface, and only in part to the Super Bowl loser curse. It also suggests that the deities lay heavy futures bets, and the 49ers aren’t among them … and since we are obliged to finish this sentence, while the Cardinals,  Bills, Bears, and Rams are.

This is essentially nothing more than an otherworldly chaos maker taking the 49ers out one by one by working off a fantasy draft list. They are testing positive for troublesome orthopedics at a campus-party-gone-infectious rate. Top-shelf tackle Trent Williams is being exempted from this carnage apparently only because he did years of wrong time in Washington and has been given a galactic hall pass. Which, of course, can be revoked at any time because hall passes, like contracts, are never guaranteed in the NFL.

Do not confuse this with pity or sympathy. This is just the business of big-kids football, a reminder that dynasties are declared only through the use of a rear-view mirror. Right now, the best team in the best division is the team with the worst history, and the team that won 11 more games last year than the year before is regressing to a mean that seems to be surrounded on all sides by rotating knives. The 49ers lived with talent and luck a year ago, and they could well die without it, but nobody outside the Bay Area cared before, cares now, or will care in the future. Everybody’s got a story … hell, does anyone want to hear the Jets’ story? I mean, they stink in Jell-O, and nobody thought to blame the turf before this. It’s just that San Francisco’s story happens to be the one about the incredible shrinking roster.

And yet they covered both the number and the over, so it could be worse. So while this looks like a catastrophe, it’s probably closer to a catastrophette, at least until we get the Wednesday injury update and learn that the Yorks will try to postpone the game, Baylor-style, because they don’t have enough healthy players. Hey, everything’s in play nowadays, including not playing.

In the meantime, the 49ers are heading to West Virginia for a few days so that they don’t have to fly all the way back home and then all the way back. Maybe they’ll practice in the woods just to get some time on a safe surface.

Well, safer, anyway. Safe with this team is a very relative term.