The San Francisco 49ers did what they needed on Sunday to defeat the Seattle Seahawks 27-7 at Levi’s Stadium.
After dropping the season opener in Chicago, the 49ers lost their starting quarterback on the second offensive possession against Seattle. The injury occurred on the fifth offensive play of the second offensive possession for San Francisco.
It was second and eight from the Seahawks 21 when Kyle Shanahan called a zone read, and Lance chose to keep the ball and run it himself. Just two plays earlier, Shanahan had called the same play, and Lance gave it to Deebo Samuel, who ran around the right side for a gain of 51.
Shanahan confirmed after the game that Lance broke his right ankle and will miss the remainder of the 2022 season. Gut-wrenching news for a young quarterback who has worked hard since arriving in San Francisco as the third pick in the 2021 draft.
Pro football is a violent and unforgiving game.
As soon as Lance was carted off the field, play resumed, and both teams were forced to refocus themselves on the task at hand.
Fortunately for San Francisco, they had signed an insurance policy just a few weeks ago to protect themselves in case of a situation just like this.
Jimmy Garoppolo signed a restructured deal and will now step back into the starting lineup.
He wasted little time getting up to speed on Sunday by completing his first five passes, one of which went for a 38-yard touchdown to Ross Dwelley.
With the offense not missing scoring opportunities, the 49ers defense showed its capability. Led by Nick Bosa and Talanoa Hufanga, San Francisco’s defense kept the Seattle offense off the scoreboard throughout the game.
Here are the answers to the five questions I asked on Saturday.
With that as a backdrop, let’s look at the five burning questions that will likely determine the outcome on Sunday:
1.) Can Trey Lance bounce back? Incomplete
Lance started the game with two completions on three attempts for 30 yards.
Disaster would strike during the second offensive possession. Lance would pick up a couple of yards on a designed run to the right side before being hit by linebacker Cody Barton.
Lance suffered a broken right ankle on the play and will miss the remainder of the 2022 season. The injury is a tough blow for a young quarterback desperately needing playing time. Lance has played sparingly since the 2019 season when he led North Dakota State to the NCAA FCS championship.
The play call on which Lance was injured should come as little surprise. Kyle Shanahan has spoken many times about his desire to play 11-on-11 football.
Unfortunately, professional football is a much more violent game than at the collegiate level. This week, Trey Lance talked about how he was bigger, stronger, and faster than his collegiate opponents. Today that caught up with the 49ers for the second time in Trey Lance’s 12-plus quarters as their starting quarterback.
Jimmy Garoppolo came in and, despite missing all training camp and mainly working with the scout team, didn’t miss a beat.
Garoppolo finished the first half by completing eight of 11 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown while leading the offense to 14 points.
The second half was tougher sledding for the veteran as he was able to hit only five of ten for 48 yards.
It will be interesting to see how the offense performs as the 49ers move forward with Garoppolo back under center the rest of the way.
2.) Will the 49ers defense be able to finish? YES
The 49ers defense dominated Seattle throughout the game on Sunday.
San Francisco held the Seahawks to only 14 first downs and let them convert just two of seven third downs.
Talanoa Hufanga maintained the high level of play he showed off in week one. Hufanga was regularly around the ball, dropping running backs near the line of scrimmage and breaking up passes on the back end.
On the third Seattle possession of the game, Hufanga’s tight coverage on Tyler Lockett allowed the second-year safety to get his hands on the ball and knock it up into the air. Safety Tashaun Gipson would capitalize on the opportunity by coming over and grabbing the ball out of the air to record his first interception as a 49er.
Charvarius Ward wasn’t about to let Gipson and Hufanga have all the fun. The free agent acquisition stopped the one long Seattle drive of the game by picking off running back Kenneth Walker in the end zone on a trick play.
Nick Bosa spent most of the day in Seattle’s backfield. He was able to rack up five hits on Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, two of which were sacks.
San Francisco recorded a total of nine hits on Smith throughout the game. Charles Omenihu joined Bosa, Samson Ebukam, and Javon Kinlaw as the 49ers pass rush showed how strong it could be.
3.) Can Kyle Shanahan get the better of Pete Carroll? YES
The 49ers had the better roster coming into the game, and it showed. San Francisco played up to its potential and dominated this game from the start.
For only the fourth time in 11 meetings between these two teams since Shanahan took over, the 49ers won the turnover battle. In addition, the 49ers were flagged only once.
4.) How will the running back room shake out? Jeff Wilson Jr., Ty Davis-Price, Deebo Samuel
Jeff Wilson Jr. started and led the 49ers with 18 carries for 84 yards. Wilson had several strong runs and looked much better than he did a week ago in Chicago.
Rookie Ty Davis-Price was next up. Making his NFL debut, Davis-Price picked up 33 yards on 14 carries. A 20-yard burst by Davis-Price on San Francisco’s opening possession of the game set them up in the redzone.
Deebo Samuel carried the ball only four times, but his 51-yard gain on the second offensive possession of the game put the 49ers in position for a score. Samuel was able to gain only two yards on the three carries that followed.
5.) Can the offensive line protect Trey Lance? YES
The Seahawks defense that chased Russell Wilson all over the field on Monday night was held in check by the 49ers offensive line.
The guy’s up front protected Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo throughout the game with solid pass protection. Seattle could record only one sack and four hits on the 49ers quarterbacks.
Prediction: 49ers 23 Seahawks 17