As the 49ers head to the Twin Cities to face the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday they will actually be embarking on a two-week journey, capped-off with their second of two road games against the New York Jets. The team plans to stay in Youngstown Ohio for the week in between the two contests, just as they did last year when on a similar two-game, east-coast road-stretch.
Being away from the facility, the team's preferred medical campus, etc. could pose some challenges. While the team has traveled with their entire practice-squad in the past, an injury to a key role-player would still be unwelcome news on such a road trip.
The second-half of San Francisco's schedule features what could be tough opponents in the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks (twice), and the New England Patriots in Foxboro. Staying healthy will be key if the 49ers want to continue what looks like a potential Super Bowl run in 2012.
Minnesota plays indoors on an artificial surface, which can be particularly hard on players' bodies. In the past the 49ers have suffered some injuries while playing in the Vikings house, such as Frank Gore's ankle injury in 2010. Gore hurt himself on his one and only carry of the game, missing an additional two games thereafter.
While I don't expect the 49ers to have a particularly tough time with the Vikings, it is key that they make it out relatively unscathed. Sometimes injuries are more of a "luck" thing, so perhaps 49ers fans should be rubbing their lucky rabbit's foot, saying a prayer, or doing a magic dance.
If for some reason the game begins to get out of hand, lopsided in the 49ers favor, I would hope that some of the key players are given time to rest. While this conjures up memories of Joshua Morgan's injury in a blowout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that situation is actually a good example of my point.
Morgan was a starting WR at that point (or at least a key member of the rotation, depending on how you read Jim Harbaugh's tea-leaves). Had he been on the bench when Colin Kaepernick entered the game in mop-up duty, he probably wouldn't have sustained the season ending leg fracture that he did...unless he was being a real buffoon on the sideline or one of the larger players fell on him in celebrating the victory.
Either way, while winning the game is the number one priority, this guy hopes that Sunday, as well as the rest of the NFL season, sees the 49ers end up with just minor nicks and bruises at most.