49ers dealt tough blow in season opening win: Five burning questions for week one answered

San Francisco 49ers center Alex Mack (50) goes over a play with offensive line coach Chris Foerster during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

The San Francisco 49ers opened their 2021 season with a 41-33 victory over the Detroit Lions, however an injury to one of their best defensive backs put a damper on the win and may have a long-term effect on their season.

With a 24-point lead and less than eight minutes left to go in the game, Jason Verrett went down with an injury to his right knee. The 49ers fear that Verrett tore his ACL, an injury that would sideline their best cornerback for the season. This would be a crushing blow to San Francisco’s pass defense.

After the injury to Verrett, the 49ers defense would allow Detroit to score 16 unanswered points to climb back into the game. With under one minute remaining in the game Deebo Samuel would look to be on his way to a game clinching first down only to have the ball knocked out of his hands to set up one last chance to Detroit to steal the victory.

Detroit would drive the ball down to the 49ers 25-yard line, but the 49ers defense would step up with Samson Ebukam pressuring Jared Goff into an incompletion to end the drive and secure the win.

Let’s take a look at the answers to the burning questions that I asked on Friday.

1. Can Kyle Shanahan figure out week 1? YES

The 34 points scored by the 49ers offense was by far the best output during Shanahan’s tenure. San Francisco’s offense was very good throughout the game, averaging eight yards per play and the 49ers were able to start with a win for only the second time in the last five years.

2. Can Jimmy Garoppolo figure out week 1? YES

Just like the head coach, Jimmy Garoppolo had the best opening week performance of his time as the 49ers starting quarterback finishing 17-25, 314 yards, and one touchdown. This was the first 300-yard game for Garoppolo since a week 14 victory over New Orleans in 2019.

Garoppolo’s top target on the day was Deebo Samuel. The two connected on nine of 12 targets for 189 yards highlighted by a 79 yard touchdown that would give San Francisco a 38-10 lead near the halfway point of the third quarter.

3. Can the 49ers defense continue to own Jared Goff? YES

While Goff’s final numbers look decent, 38-57, 338 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, the 49ers defense did a very good job of keeping him in check until late in the fourth quarter.

Goff’s struggles when pressured were detailed prior to the game, and this played out late in the second quarter. Facing third and eight, Goff dropped back to pass and Dee Ford was able to get pressure on the Lions quarterback forcing a bad throw that would be intercepted and returned for a touchdown by linebacker Dre Greenlaw to give the 49ers a 28-10 halftime lead.

Pressure on Goff would lead to the end of Detroit’s final possession as well. Facing fourth and nine at the San Francisco 24 yard line, Samson Ebukam would get through and force Goff to throw incomplete to seal the 49ers win.

4. Will Kyle Shanahan commit to the running game? YES

Shanahan did a very good job keeping the 49ers offense balanced throughout the game. San Francisco had 55 offensive snaps against Detroit, 29 called passes and 26 runs.

The 49ers were able to maintain this balance despite losing Raheem Mostert for the game with a knee injury after only two carries. With Mostert out, rookie Elijah Mitchell stepped in to fill the void. On his third carry of the game Mitchell would take a toss sweep 38 yards for a touchdown, running through the grasp of Lions defenders on his way to the endzone. Mitchell would gain 104 yards on 16 carries in his first NFL regular season game.

5. How will the defense fill the gaps? Kentavius Street and Deommodore Lenoir

Kentavius Street started in place of Javon Kinlaw and rookie Deommodore Lenoir replaced Emmanuel Moseley in the starting lineup. Both made their presence felt throughout the game.

Street would record the first sack of his NFL career when he took down Goff during the first quarter. Street also recorded two quarterback hits, three total tackles and one tackle for loss.

Making his first NFL start, Lenoir would allow only one reception for three yards on four throws into his coverage. A pretty good day considering Jared Goff dropped back to pass 55 times on the day.

This article has 59 Comments

  1. Is it possible to feel this low in a big opening victory? Yes.

    Verrett is probably done for his career. We don’t have depth at corner and are probably no better than Seattle at the position.

    This might be another long season. Revising estimates to 9 wins as I fear whatever is in the water is likely going to continue to vanquish the health of this team like it did last year. And it’s a real shame as this team has so much depth and talent at all other positions except corner and o-line.

    1. Repeating myself here but the 49ers under this current ownership will never win another Super Bowl. They’re cursed. Verrett out for the year. Maybe Mostert too. And they picked Lance instead of Mac Jones who’s destined to succeed Brady & take the Patriots to the Super Bowl again and again. The dreadful Yorks, and all those associated with them, are cursed. They have to go.

      1. The season is long and has many ups and downs. Your outlook is so fatalistic and depressing .
        Why do you even bother watching sports.

  2. Grades for week
    QB JG A+ TS A
    RB’s A+ Mitchell is the next star RB in the NFL
    OL A Mc Glinchey looked good
    TE’s A onside kicks don’t count in the grade. WR’s B+ Deebo’s fumble hurts their grade
    DL C gave up too much right up the middle Kinlaws return should help quite a bit. Pass rush wasn’t consistent. They got tired in the 4th Quarter. Bosa and Ford will get in better game shape as the season goes on.
    LB C like the DL too many yards up the middle
    CB’s A for 3.5 quarters F for the final 8 min. Lenoir looks like a starting NFL CB. Mosleys return will help. I may be the only one but I think Thomas can be a above avg CB in the NFL. He just needs to learn to turn his head with out losing a step but that could take a year or so.
    ST A

      1. I’m with you in this one.
        Fumbling an onside kick, missing a field goal and getting nothing from the return game gets you a pass not an A imo

  3. The sky is falling, just because they lost an injury prone CB? Seriously?

    Football players get hurt, it’s the nature of the sport. If they were so thin on talent to stake their season on an injury prone CB who has really been healthy, then they were never contenders in the first place.

    Thankfully, this team’s strength is their front 7, it’s one of the best front 7’s in the NFL! I can assure you that this team is far too talented to let one major, opening day injury, derail their entire season.

    They got the win today, that’s the main thing. And they still have more than enough talent left to do what they set out to do. Now, if they had lost this game, it sure would have been a lot harder to regroup, but they won the game, and their offense looks dynamic, both on the ground, and thru the air (and deep).

    No …. this was not a dire, season changing game, by any stretch. Could they have finished the Lions off before allowing them to get back in it? Of course, but that doesn’t change their season outlook.

    My gosh, could you be any more dramatic, Gavin Nuisance? I think the polls showing great support for Gavin Newsom are getting into your head, dude.

    Did you really think California voters would fall for this scheme again, after being burned before? Come-on man! FYI, we don’t believe in the big lie in California, so you can take your political nonsense somewhere else.

    Maybe a political blog, if you had the balls, which I highly doubt!

    1. In fact, I thought it was clear that I was mocking you earlier when I posted under a political screen name in response to your post.

      Apparently you didn’t get it.

      The only thing more embarrassing than being publicly mocked for being openly political on a sports blog, is being on the wrong side of the political spectrum while you’re being openly mocked.

      Looks like you picked the wrong horse dude.

      You better stick to sports, even though you don’t appear to be any better at sports than you are at politics. Just saying!

      1. Gavin/1.6 is not a rational person. Anyone who thinks 1.6 was an act of patriotism and needs to concoct multiple online personas is usually in the Whack Job category.

        1. We are two different people, as you can probably surmise in our writing. Not sure. Either way, I don’t think any less of you. You’re a 49ers fan as am I, and I respect both you and 49Reasons for it. Cheers.

        2. Yah, I wasn’t aware that Gavin Nuisance and 1.6 Patriot were the same guy, but I guess I should have guessed. You are sure right about that, BruceLee, although I will say that, finding Gavin Newsom to be a nuisance, isn’t nearly as intellectually confused as conflating the violent act of an insurrection, with an act of patriotism.

          In the real world (where reality is truth), these two things are not only 100% contradictive, but they are actually diametrically opposed to one another. But then again, …. I’m guessing whoever uses the screen name – 1.6 Patriot, is either being completely disingenuous (full of sh_t), or simply isn’t playing with a full deck of cards, if you know what I’m saying.

      2. “The only thing more embarrassing than being publicly mocked for being openly political on a sports blog,”

        Are you embarrassed yet? I wish Jack would ban everyone who even drifts into politics, even with screen names. Everyone of you should grow up.

        1. David, I’m not sure why you don’t seem to understand why there is a big difference between someone using politically charged screen name that is clearly aimed at getting a response out of people, and someone calling them out on it in a response. Don’t you think it’s better not to use politically charged screen names in the first place, rather than chastising someone for simply calling them out on it?

          It’s a lot like taunting in football, right? As weak of an opponent as 1.6 Patriot is, if a player attempts to taunt an opponent, he shouldn’t be surprised when said opponent wraps him up and pile-drives him head first, into the turf, so to speak.

          That’s the way I see it! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. I see no difference, you are all acting like children. Leave the politics alone and let Jack handle it, if he will. Be the adult in the room, if you can.

            1. You have a point, David, and I do respect what you are saying, and I do think Jack should probably ban screen names that are obviously politically charged, I just don’t think the two thing are equally objectionable, and I certainly wouldn’t call pushing back on it “childish”.

              Especially something in such poor taste as 1.6 Patriot. Here we are memorializing our heroes on the 20 year anniversary of 9/11, and some jerk is literally making light of a violent insurrection in which multiple police officers were assaulted and killed.

              So I am sorry if you feel differently, David, but in my book, someone who makes light of such a reprehensible act of violence should be called out on it, whether it’s a sports blog or not.

    2. All of which suggests you think California is fine when in fact it is anything but.
      Let’s start with the roads …

      1. I grew up in Northern CA. Went to college in Southern CA and now live in Central CA (San Luis Obispo). I must have somehow missed the problem with the roads. LOL

        1. You missed Sonoma County where the Press Democrat is published.
          You also must have missed California’s myriad of other problems, issues. Are you blind???

      2. The Yorks suck? The team sucks because they didn’t pick Mac Jones? Now California and it’s roads suck? Dude, WTF? You got anything for us that doesn’t suck?

      3. The roads? Lol. OK, Boomer.

        Go ahead and keep wasting your time, because trying to convince Californians to go backwards based on lies, faux outrage, and fake patriotism, isn’t going to work. You aren’t fooling anyone. Relying on disinformation to win at politics may work in the under-educated deep red portions of the country, but it doesn’t work out here in the big blue state of California. California may have its fair number of challenges, but the same can be said for every state in the union. The fact is …. California has the 5th largest economy in the world, and yet it is running a record-setting budget surplus, despite the devastating affects of climate change. Not only that, we’ve had above average outcomes – per capita – when it comes to COVID 19, because we have a large population of people who actually believe in the benefits of a common sense scientific approach to the virus, unlike conservative portions of the country. All of these factors add up to make California living far superior to living in other parts of the country, particularly places like the deep red south, and the bible belt. I know this for a fact because I’ve been there and done that.

        In fact, California rules!

        As a collective group, we don’t deny science, and we don’t support fake news, or conspiracy theories about things like extra terrestrials flying in from outer space to rig our elections. And perhaps most important of all, we believe in democracy and the right to vote, which is why California voters won’t be taking our state backwards in a sham recall election. A sham recall that actually started gaining signatures the day after Newsom assumed office after the mid-term elections.

        Don’t worry folks, California will remain blue, and will continue to carry this Untied States Of America on it’s shoulders, and lead the way as a beacon of hope, into the future.

        And … GO NINERS!

      1. Yikes! The Packers looked BAD! And no excuses either. New Orleans were forced to play their “home game” on the road, and they still steamrolled the Packers. It’s one game, but unlike us Niners’ fans, if I were a Packers’ fan, I’d be seriously concerned after that performance. The Niners actually looked good, except they failed to put the Lions away, mostly because they took their foot off the gas. Although, the Lions also got some very lucky breaks late in the game. In the end, the 49ers played a 10:00 AM road game, lost the turnover battle, and despite losing their top CB, they still held on to win the game.

        That’s absolutely no reason to hit the panic button!

        1. Maybe Rodgers is making good on his threat never to play for GB again, haha!

          The Pack may be in desperation mode come week 3. The Niners better have their back end settled by then.

  4. I used to be a big Garoppolo fan and I felt like Kyle was too harsh on him, but going into this season it seems he really hasn’t been able to overcome the biggest flaw in his game- accuracy. He had a great stat game, but continuously threw the ball behind receivers. I can see why Kyle has a problem with this in terms of creating turnover opportunities as well as not being able to hit receivers in stride for long plays. In some ways he’s bailed out by guys like Deebo and Aiyuk who can break tackles and make up for his deficiencies in this area.

    The one thing Jimmy is great at is hitting receivers up the field who sit in dead spots in the zone. If the receiver isn’t moving, he can zip the ball in there with his quick release. But ask the guy to throw a “quick” out or a slant and you’re gritting your teeth hoping it doesn’t bounce off the target and up in the air.

    Is accuracy something that can be taught? I would assume that if you put enough time into it with the right coaches, that you could pick that up. That’s the one aspect of Jimmy’s game that just seems really irritating. Otherwise he could be a top tier quarterback. The deep passes may be more successful with work on his short/mid range accuracy as well.

  5. Gavin,
    I am not a big JG fan I want him to succeed for 2 reasons. One, it means the 9ers are winning. Two he will improve his trade value when we finally move on to TL. JG was very good today I would say it was one of his top 5 games as a niner. You are beginning to sound like Grant Cohn, no matter how well JG plays he cloaks his praise with a thinly layered edge of negativity. Just admit you were wrong (at least for one game) and move on. imho but then again I could be wrong.

    1. Hmm you must have me confused for someone else. Until this game (this year) I have been supportive of Jimmy G. Actually I don’t recall ever posting about Garoppolo either way to be honest, until now. If I had my choice, I would want Jimmy to play out the rest of the year as the bonafide starter and not swap Trey in as they’ve been wonting to do. I agree his game was pretty damn good (probably top 5-7 although the competition was pretty poor), I was just hoping to see some growth in his game coming into this season.

      Hope that clears it up a bit. I want Jimmy G as the starter this year, playing 100% of the snaps unless it’s a blowout (garbage time) or he is injured. When you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have any in my book.

      But cmon man, is it that hard for a quarterback to lead a receiver and not consistently throw it behind his back shoulder on a short/quick out?

      Yes, Grant always has knee-jerk reactions, but I think Hammer has a pretty consistent and similar opinion of Jimmy G as well. I just didn’t agree with either of them until now as I feel like it’s time to see some growth in his game.

      1. Actually, I think Garoppolo did show some growth on his deep ball today, at the very least it was a big boost for him from a statistic standpoint. I am also not a fan of a two QB system. I don’t think either Garoppolo or Lance really benefitted from the QB rotation today. In fact, I think the way Kyle is doing it may doing more harm than good! Kyle could have brought Trey Lance in after they went up 41-17 with 10 minutes left in the 4th QTR. I think allowing Trey to use his strengths to close the game out, would have been an opportunity worth taking advantage of, especially considering Trey’s ability to enhance the 49ers rushing attack. Running the football or calling low risk / high percentage passing plays, is the always the best way to close out games. Playing to Lance’s strengths as he closed out the game in the 4th QTR, would have been a fantastic way to allow Trey to string together some of those much needed, valuable reps. Instead, Kyle got a little too cute with the way he using Trey Lance, and I think the end results were probably a net-negative for both QB’s.

        1. Thankfully, rookie RB Elijah Mitchell had a phenomenal pro debut, and the Niners came away with a big road win to start the season. The way these game generally affect a team moving forward usually depends on the final result. I they had ended up losing after a historic meltdown, it could have had very serious lingering negative affects. However, since they actually ended up ultimately winning what was a notoriously tricky, Eastern Time Zone game, they can actually use this game as a positive, and something to build upon. There were some genuine lessons worth learning early in the season, and since they came away with the W, the 49ers should have no problem applying those valuable lessons moving forward. All in all, even though anytime you lose a starting CB it hurts, the Niners can build momentum off of this game, and they can make those needed adjustments accordingly, moving forward.

      2. As I’ve been harping on like a broken record, what did the Taysom Hill change of pace ever do for the Saints except potentially stall drives? Shannie, who may or may not have a better offensive mind than Sean Payton, I sure hope isn’t determined to repeat the experiment. Sure, Lance needs NFL game snaps before remotely considered starter material, but there has to be a better avenue. I think if things hadn’t gotten out of hand in the 4th qtr we’d have seen extensive mop up duty for Lance. Let’s hope similar opportunities lie in future games.

    2. You are 100% right, Coach. It was far from perfect, but a win is a win, especially a road conference win this early in the season. The 49ers put 41 points on the board with relative ease. Unlike teams like the Rams (12 yards rushing with 4 minutes left in the 3rd QTR) and the Packers (2.9 YPC) the Niners offense is very well balanced, effective, and efficient. Their OL appears well above average, and their front 7 is among the best in the league. They have depth at every position, with the exception of perhaps CB, and they will get that sorted out, you can count on that.

      I wasn't thrilled with a couple of Kyle's decisions, and losing Verrett hurts, but come on guys … it’s ONE injury, for crying out loud! The 49ers still sit at the top of their conference, and that’s after a 10:00 AM road win, a time zone that is notoriously difficult for a west coast team. Again, they put up 41 points before they even broke a sweat, and they had multiple opportunities to put this game away before the 4th QTR. Bottom line is that they won a 10:00 AM road game despite losing the turnover battle, and suffering from some serious bad luck.

      This team is just getting started, and they are currently very well positioned to make a deep postseason run, as long as they clean a couple things up, and don't suffer an insurmountable number of injuries like they did last season. Now … bring on the Eagles!

    1. Warner?

      Yah, I do worry about the Niners’ injury prone players getting hurt. But then again, every team in the league have their share of players who have injury histories. It’s a violent sport.

      In that way, NFL Football is a war of attrition, and thankfully the Niners are just as well positioned as any team in the league, to survive a war of attrition, at least up to a certain point. Obviously, last season was an outlier, and the unordinary number of injuries to key players at almost every position, made it un-survivable, but that was last season. As long as the 49ers suffer an average number of injuries, they should be OK, and while you hate to lose your top CB on opening week, it’s only 1 injury to an injury prone player, so it’s hardly an insurmountable injury.

      Let’s hope they stay relatively healthy moving forward …. knock on wood!

      1. Yip Warner, my bad.
        I only saw the 1st Q live and was shocked to see how Goff marched down the field with ease. He didn’t score much, but the nines could have been down14 points easily before they got going. The D also didn’t show up at the end of the game.
        Warner and Verrett are big because Ford and Bosa are an accident waiting to happen.
        Mitchell showed up and we still can get Hasty, but Mostert looks done for the season.

        1. Agreed Dee, although I don’t think Mostert’s injury is very serious. Personally, I find the fact that the 49ers got next to nothing yesterday out of their top 6 picks over the last 2 drafts, to be even more concerning!


          Kinlaw – DNP
          Aiyuk – Barely Played
          Colton McKivitz – DNP


          Trey Lance – Barely Played
          Aaron Banks – DNP
          Trey Sermon – DNP

          That’s way too many whiffs for a team looking to remain competitive. I was very high on the 49ers going into week 1, but unfortunately I didn’t forsee most of these issues with all of these high draft picks. Very alarming!

    1. Breer is one of the better national NFL writers — probably not a good idea to include Grant in the same sentence, IMO :)

  6. There does not appear to be a good backup to Kinlaw for run stop . Big gaps seemed to appear in the D line on early downs that provided running lanes when the backup (Kerr for one) was double teamed. Kinlaw’s nagging knee issues are a concern, IMO, right below CB depth.

  7. Feel terrible for Jason Verrett. Top 5 CB talent but his body just wouldn’t cooperate. If it’s confirmed that he tore his ACL then his career is likely over. At least he had the blessing of last year where he overcame all the injuries to play at a high level.

    Very curious what happened with Trey Sermon. Something must have happened. Missed curfew? Late for meetings?

    Aiyuk is definitely in the doghouse also. Hope he turns it around because he’s the best WR on the team.

    1. That missed curfew thing was just a stupid rumor started by some guy who said he “called the hotel and the desk staff told him they thought they heard the staff saying two players (Aiyuk/Sermon) missed curfew.” Yeaaaah… okaaaaay.

      Who knows the real story but I’d take that with a mountain full of salt.

    2. Kyle Shanahan explained that the reason the sophomore receiver’s playing time was reduced was a result of missing several practices with a hamstring injury.

      We started Trent,” Shanahan said. “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.

      As per NBC sports

      1. I had not heard about Aiyuk’s injury. That’s interesting. I thought he had not missed any time in training camp. Maiocco even mentioned something about Aiyuk’s lack of playing time and that Shanahan was sending a message or something. Also, had not heard anything about anyone missing curfew. Total conjecture because it makes no sense that Sermon would be a healthy scratch unless there were other issues.

        Week 2 will be interesting. The D-line did not play as well as I expected especially early on in the game where Detroit seemed to run up the middle for big gains. Kind of curious how much of that was issues with LBs with poor gap integrity and how much was it the D-lineman getting pushed off the ball. I did notice the Lions used a lot of trap blocking which can be confusing. Hopefully DeMeco gets that fixed quickly.

  8. Sorry I’m late. The CA streets were acting up again. This time with a memorial for 1.6 traitor /covid denier Veronica Wolski who just died of covid. Anyway, we need Kinlaw back ASAP. If we don’t shut down the run our depleted secondary is in trouble.

    1. Damn, if only she’d been getting treatment from veterinarians instead of doctors. All due thoughts and prayers. This happened in Chicago. Backed all the way to San Luis? Man, those CA streets are in bad shape.

      ribico post week 1 hot takes:
      4 playoff teams from NFCW. Saints give Bucs a run for their division money. NFCE and NFCN champions at .500 or below.

    1. Jack, if you want to send a message with teeth, you can start with deleting posts from, then banning users with drive-by blatantly political screen names.

        1. Whatever you say fu. Or sourdough sam or Ribico = BruceLee or Ribico eats Dick or Ribico Eats DICK or Bruce Lee Peed or Bruce Lee Just Peed Himself or whatever you are calling yourself these days.

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