Today’s San Francisco 49ers victory came with a range of emotions: excitement, sadness, stress and, ultimately, relief, as the red and gold beat the Detroit Lions, 41-33, at Ford Field to start the season 1-0. However, it should never have been that close.
Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers led by 24 points, before what was almost a collapse for the ages, as Lions’ QB Jared Goff looked like a former No. 1 draft pick and led Detroit on two touchdown drives with two, two-point conversions, but somehow San Francisco prevailed and all’s well that end’s well.
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) September 12, 2021
The 49ers had the wind knocked out of them when cornerback Jason Verrett went down with what the team fears is a torn ACL injury with 7:00 left in the fourth quarter.
“It’s crushing,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “I’m hoping for the best but it’s crushing. The bad luck he’s had and putting it together these last two years, staying healthy, how good of a camp he had. I’ve got a lot of love for JV and respect him as much as anyone I’ve ever been around. I really hurt for him.”
After the game, it was evident how much the injury affected Verrett’s teammates. Despite a late fumble that could have cost the 49ers the game, wide receiver Deebo Samuel had a pretty awesome day with nine receptions for 189 yards and one 79-yard touchdown. But those numbers, and the win, were overshadowed by the Verrett injury.
“I just pray that there’s nothing really wrong with him,” an emotional Samuel said about Verrett.
The 49ers were already thin at cornerback. Starter Emmanuel Moseley (knee) was not available Sunday, so rookie Deommodore Lenoir started in his place. Rookie Ambry Thomas and Dontae Johnson were backups, with newly signed Josh Norman inactive. If their worst fears are true, San Francisco may turn to a familiar face in free agent Richard Sherman.
“We’ve discussed it,” Shanahan said. “I’ve talked to Sherm about it too. Sherm’s always a possibility.”
Jimmy Garoppolo and that 49ers’ Offense
After all the debate and discussion this offseason, QB Jimmy Garoppolo did in fact start on Sunday, leading a prolific 49ers offense that scored the aforementioned 41 points.
The 79-yard touchdown to Samuel was the highlight, but overall, Garoppolo finished the day 17-of-25 for 314 yards and one touchdown. Trey Lance came in for four snaps, throwing his first NFL touchdown pass to wide receiver Trent Sherfield.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 12, 2021
After running back Raheem Mostert left with a knee injury early in the game, rookie Elijah Mitchell stepped up in his absence. The fifth-round draft pick had 19 carries on 104 yards and a 38-yard TD run.
“I thought he came in with the right mentality,” said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. “He was ready to roll. Especially coming from a rookie, that’s what you’d like to see. That’s a guy you can trust and rely on. It can only get better going forward.”
Rookie running back Trey Sermon was inactive.
Meanwhile, Sherfield, not Brandon Aiyuk, started along with Samuel at wide receiver, which Shanahan indicated was more health-related than anything, as Aiyuk missed time with a hamstring injury. That being said, Sherfield outplayed Aiyuk as training camp as the preseason went on.
“[Aiyuk’s] only been back for a week after he tweaked his hamstring, which we want to be smart with that,” Shanahan said. “..Sherfield was pushing him as it was. I planned on getting him in a lot, rotating both of them. Playing all five guys that were up today. I think we only had one third down in the first half. We were scoring I think pretty fast in that first half. I felt like it was more of the opposite in the second half. I don’t know how many plays we ended up having. So, I don’t know the numbers there but I’m sure he had less than expected.”
Nick Bosa and Dee Ford
Defensive ends Dee Ford and Nick Bosa were back and back with a vengeance. Bosa had a sack and three tackles for loss, while Ford also had a sack, as well as a pressure on Goff that led to a Dre Greenlaw pick-6. Greenlaw later left the game with a groin injury.