Although the 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals 28-25 on Thursday Night football, the team suffered a loss that will last longer than any win. Linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his pectoral muscle late in the third quarter. The 49ers put Alexander on the injured reserve and pulled linebacker Elijah Lee up from the practice squad.
The 49ers have proven to be a resilient team after already dealing with several potentially crippling injuries. Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey and Ahkello Witherspoon have all missed time.
Still, the 49ers have endured.
The 49ers will use players like Azeez Al Shaair, Dre Greenlaw and Lee to replace Alexander on the football field, but Alexander brings an attribute to the 49ers they simply can’t replace — swagger.
Alexander has served as the 49ers defensive hype man this season. Every great defense needs a wild man in the middle that brings a bit of energy and attitude. Alexander is that guy for the 49ers. San Francisco hasn't had a linebacker with a bite like Alexander's since Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman.
What Alexander brings with his attitude might be the glue that holds the 49ers together. Young players are drawn to Alexander. He’s made the 49ers defense “legendary” while being the captain of “the hot boyz.”
The 49ers will turn to Lee, Al-Shaair and Greenlaw to fill the shoes of Alexander. Lee is the eldest of the group at only 23 years old. Each will have to grow up quickly as the 49ers begin their toughest stretch on the schedule.