The rib and shoulder injuries that have sidelined
More than halfway through his fifth season in the
Flacco's ability to avoid serious injuries has not been lost on Coach
"[H]e is durable," Harbaugh said. "He's just a tough guy, and we've protected him pretty well over the years."
The value of a No. 1 quarterback was re-emphasized this week with the injuries to Roethlisberger and concussions suffered by the
Smith is reportedly close to being cleared for practice and could be available for the 49ers' game against the Bears on Monday night, but
Flacco acknowledged feeling blessed that he has yet to suffer a major injury.
"I probably think about how fortunate I am to still be standing, but it's the name of the game, so I don't put too much thought into it," he said. "It's just the way it is. Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with a
Flacco has persevered through minor bumps and bruises and the occasional
"I never thought I wasn't going to go, but I definitely had a tough time moving around that week," Flacco recalled. "At times in practice, it was tough to have my legs underneath me. I could drop back and throw pretty comfortable, but moving around here and there was definitely a little tough that week."
This season, Flacco has been sacked 19 times, tied for the 15th most in the NFL. And according to Pro Football Focus, he has been hit six times as he's thrown a pass, which is tied for the sixth-highest mark in the league.
"Our goal as an offensive group is not to get Joe hit, and we take pride in that," Rice said. "But even when he does get hit, you always look back and check on him, and he's getting up. He's ready to roll. That says something about our quarterback because quarterbacks, obviously, when guys are coming free at him — by him throwing the ball and everything – he's really unprotected. … Usually when you get a hit on a quarterback, it's one of those free shots. And [Joe has] taken a few of them, but he's able to bounce back, and we take pride in protecting him."
But Harbaugh expressed confidence in Taylor — who has thrown five passes in his career — and
"Tyrod has done a great job. Dennis Dixon is here," Harbaugh said. "Those guys are always prepared for their opportunity as well. At any position, at any time, you are ready for the next guy to go in and play."
Flacco said durability is part of the job requirement.
"You want to go out there and you want to show up for your teammates every Sunday, and you do everything you can to make sure that happens," he said.