14 Sep 5 Takeaways From 49ers Vs Lions
The San Francisco 49ers escaped Detroit with a win to start the 2021 season. I say escape even though they were up 38-10 after a wonderful 79-yard catch and run by Deebo Samuel with 8:08 left in the third quarter, and even up 41-17 after a Robbie Gould field goal with under 10 minutes of play left. The defensive meltdown was almost impressive — if it wasn’t so concerning. Let’s get into five key points I took away from the season-opener on Sunday.
Jimmy Garoppolo Got the Job Done
Although they opened the game up with Jimmy Garoppolo losing a fumble, Kyle Shanahan’s offense was red hot for the majority of the game. The following three drives after the fumble all ended with touchdowns! Getting 7 and not having to settle for 3 is exactly what separates good offenses from mediocre ones. Jimmy Garoppolo had an extremely efficient day, as his first incompletion did not come until the last series of the first half — perhaps he really is feeling the pressure. He ended the day with 17/25, 314 yards & 1 TD. He looked good and we didn’t see many (if any) ‘Jimmy Throws’ we’ve become so accustomed to seeing. I loved the fact that he went to his receivers (mainly Deebo Samuel, see: my next point), and not only the tight ends. If we continue to see this Jimmy, we might not be hearing much talk of a QB controversy anytime soon.
Deebo Samuel, WR1?
Deebo Samuel was the best player on the field Sunday, without a doubt. Anytime he had the ball in his hands, he was making a play. He had one of the most impressive catch-and-run touchdown receptions I’ve seen in a long time. Samuel finished his career day with 189 yards on 9 receptions and 1 TD. He averaged a whopping 21 yards per reception! With Brandon Aiyuk not getting any targets on Sunday due to what Kyle Shanahan later classified as a ‘tweaked hamstring,’ Samuel took full advantage of the extra targets. He looks to be in shape and ready for a big year. Let’s hope this is only a preview of what we can expect from him this season.
“We started Trent. They’ve been rotating a lot throughout the preseason, but Aiyuk has only been back for a week after he tweaked his hamstring and we want to be smart with that. Also, Trent Sherfield has earned the right to be out there more.”– Kyle Shanahan on Aiyuk’s lack of action vs the Lions.
Elijah Mitchell Is the Real Deal
When starting running back Raheem Mostert left after the first offensive series (well, first after the fumble), I wasn’t sure how the running game would flow. Rookie Trey Sermon was inactive as a healthy scratch (Kyle Shanahan didn’t provide too much additional information after the game, other than the fact that they dressed who they felt were the three best backs Sunday – Mostert, Mitchell & Hasty), and we didn’t see much of fellow rookie Elijah Mitchell in the preseason. However, the running game did not miss a beat! Mitchell was quick. elusive & impressive in his regular season debut, and he finished the game with 104 yards on 19 carries & 1 38-yard TD run. Although we expect Trey Sermon to also be active next week against the Eagles, Mitchell’s emergence alone helps soften the blow of losing Mostert for 8-weeks due to a knee injury.
Javon Kinlaw’s Presence Was Severely Missed
Javon Kinlaw was inactive due to his knee still not being 100%. It appears to be the same injury that kept him out of the final two games of last season, as The San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch pointed out. Kinlaw had surgery on the injured knee during the off-season and is apparently still recovering from it. Well, his absence on the field was certainly missed on Sunday, as the Detroit Lions were having a field day straight up the middle of the defense. Although the Lions were forced to go away from their running game due to being down so many points, they were having tons of success early on running right at the middle of the defensive line. They finished the day with a combined total of 116 yards on 24 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and 1 TD. Let’s hope Kinlaw can return next week, but Kyle Shanahan did not sound too positive when asked if he expected the former first-round pick to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 49ers Are Using Trey Lance… Incorrectly?
We were all excited to see rookie QB Trey Lance get his first snaps in a regular season game Sunday, but aside from his first pass that was hauled in by Trent Sherfield for a touchdown, there wasn’t much to see. Lance was brought in on a handful of snaps after his touchdown pass, but he did not attempt another pass. The remainder of his snaps were runs for either a couple of yards, or no gain at all. He finished the day with 1/1, 5 yards, 1 TD & 3 carries for 2 yards. I want to see Shanahan let Lance actually operate from the pocket, make some reads and attempt some passes next week. I know it was only the first week, but I would’ve thought Sunday was the perfect opportunity once they had such a large lead. We’ll see how much action he gets against the Eagles next Sunday.