Given the raft of injuries the San Francisco 49ers dealt with in 2018 — chief among them the torn ACLs of starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and starting running back Jerick McKinnon — it was inevitable that the team would make changes in its support staff.
On the heels of a season in which San Francisco unofficially lost 99 man-games due to injury, the franchise fired head strength coach Jay Wright, then fired head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson. On Tuesday, San Francisco announced Ferguson’s replacement: Dustin Little.
It’s one of the moves that general manager John Lynch teased when he met with media late last week to discuss the signings of Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander.
“I think we looked hard at it,” Lynch said. “We’ve adjusted our staff accordingly. We’ve announced some of those moves, some more to come. So, we’ve really tried to look at our structure and how we can best care for our players and give them every opportunity to stay healthy.”
Little spent the last five seasons with the Denver Broncos as an assistant athletic trainer/physical therapist (2014-15), director of rehabilitation/assistant athletic trainer/DPT (2016-17) and director of rehabilitation/assistant athletic trainer (2018). He also spent the summer of 2013 as an intern with the team’s medical department.
“We are excited to add Dustin to our health and performance team and believe he is a tremendous fit for our group,” Lynch said. “A wide net was cast for this search, and we simply kept coming back to him. Our due diligence and a great recommendation from the Broncos organization, which is highly regarded for the care its players, made us extremely confident in bringing Dustin aboard.”
Little earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota where he played for the school’s basketball and football teams. He earned his master’s degree from South Dakota State and later his doctor of physical therapy (DPT) from South Dakota. A member of the professional football athletic trainers society, Little is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and has a certification in applied functional science (CAFS).