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The preseason has not been kind to the San Francisco 49ers.
Injuries swept through the team like a cold through a preschool classroom, starting with NaVorro Bowman's torn ACL way back in January and continuing through rookie center Marcus Martin's knee injury in the preseason.
To add insults to injuries, stud pass-rusher Aldon Smith was suspended for nine games for the myriad legal troubles he has seen over the past two years, and defensive lineman Ray McDonald was recently arrested on a domestic violence charge, per Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee.
McDonald's off-field troubles may not cost the 49ers immediately, but it's certainly not a good look.
Now, if any team was built to withstand so many losses, it's the 49ers. They have a ton of youth on that roster thanks to the plethora of draft picks they held over the past couple of years. Youngsters like Quinton Dial, Tank Carradine and Aaron Lynch will all be called upon to fill the holes left behind by injury and suspension.
Long story short, the 49ers have plenty to overcome on the normally stout defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, San Francisco looked lost during the preseason, scoring three points through the first two games—something head coach Jim Harbaugh said was a concern. Harbaugh thought the offense looked better as the preseason wore on, per Barrows, but that defense may not be able to cover for a sputtering offense like it at times did last season.
Some are predicting the 49ers take a step back, and that certainly seems like a plausible scenario given all the factors at play.