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Kansas City was bit by the injury bug bad last year. To start the season, the Chiefs lost starters Tony Moeaki, Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles in three consecutive weeks, beginning with the preseason. They also lost starting quarterback Matt Cassel in Week 10.
This happens to a team every season.
Outside of Josh Morgan and a brief absence from Patrick Willis, which wasn't detrimental to the team's success, the 49ers remained relatively healthy in 2011. Even though San Francisco has pretty good depth, if the wrong guy goes down, it could spell trouble for the entire team.
The biggest immediate loss the 49ers could probably face would be Justin Smith. It would affect team morale, and the intangibles he brings are irreplaceable.
Aldon Smith also fills a role on defense that would not exist if he were not present. In his first year as a starter, he will be marked by offensive linemen and blocking backs. It seems that outside rushers get hurt all the time, which makes sense—they play a high-torque, all-go, all-the-time position. Losing the team's up-and-coming sack artist could impact a lot of things San Francisco likes to do on defense.
Without question, losing either Dashon Goldson or Donte Whitner would also really hurt the 49ers secondary and ultimately the defense as a whole.
On the offensive side of the ball,—considering the depth—losing either a starting tackle or Vernon Davis for an extended period of time would ruin a great opportunity for San Francisco as it looks to become a top offense in 2012.
The new-and-improved, turnover-free Alex Smith will also have a target on his back this coming season.