COMMENTARY | The San Francisco 49ers dodged two major bullets in Saturday's preseason loss on the road against the Houston Texans as running backs Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James appear to have escaped major injuries.
Jacobs was injured early in the game on an 8-yard run when he was hit in the knee by Houston defensive back Kareem Jackson. While it looked serious - Jacobs couldn't put weight on it -- there was no ligament damage. His long-term prognosis is positive while his status for the Week 1 regular season opener remains in doubt.
For James, a rookie second-round pick, an ankle injury he sustained late in the game looks like it's going to be a non-issue, despite the former Oregon Duck needing to be carted off the field.
"I'm not going to miss practice," James told reporters. "I owe it to my teammates, I owe it to myself to go out there and practice hard each and every day. I'm not going to let an injury -- if I can't walk, that's a different story. But if I can walk, I can practice. That's how I feel."
Two injuries that appeared to be devastating may not even slow down the 49ers, who go into the 2012 season with high expectations.
Even though the team lost the preseason game 20-9, they can walk away feeling like winners because of the potential challenges an injury to both tailbacks would have created.
Frank Gore, the 49ers' team leader and workhorse struggled around the goal line last season. If the team wants to be competitive again, it will have to convert long drives into touchdowns and not settle for field goals.
That's Jacobs' department, and losing him for the duration of the season would effectively put the 49ers back to square one on offense. Though he may not be ready for Week 1, it appears as if he will not miss significant time.
James is going to give head coach Jim Harbaugh another dynamic weapon on offense that can keep defenses honest. The team will look to get him the ball in space and create more room for Alex Smith to work down the middle of the field.
With Week 2 of the preseason in the books, the 49ers may not be satisfied with the overall level of play just yet, but they can consider it a small victory to have most of the backfield intact at this point after Saturday's scare.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the San Francisco 49ers and the NFL. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com and is the Editor of SportsOutWest.com. For more insight, follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.