3 Thoughts From the 49ers' Injury-Filled 31-13 Win Over the Jets
The San Francisco 49ers (1-1) limped to a 31-13 victory over the New York Jets (0-2), dominating despite losing a handful of star players.
In addition to Nick Bosa, who deserves his own article, the 49ers lost a lot in a game that provided their first win.
Here are just three thoughts from Week 2:
As the 49ers’ Super Bowl hopes dwindle, Shanahan’s COTY odds go up
The 49ers returned the majority of their staff and players, and were one of the few teams that were locked for the postseason.
Yet injuries are unpredictable. Of course in a year with so much uncertainty, on-field health overshadowed the game and consumed the storylines.
After Sunday’s damage, seven of the 49ers’ top 12 highest paid players could be sidelined.
The rash of injuries right now seem too much to overcome, but this just presents an opportunity for head coach Kyle Shanahan to prove he’s one of the elite tacticians in the NFL.
If he can lead a walking-wounded 49ers roster back to the postseason with arguably their best five players out for an extended amount of time, it would be hard to deny he’s the Coach of the Year.
But unlike a lot of teams, the 49ers are very experienced with these circumstances.
They lost Kwon Alexander, Dee Ford, Joe Staley, George Kittle, Kyle Juszczyk, Robbie Gould and Mike McGlinchey for an extended time in 2019 and still made the Super Bowl.
Shanahan was able to keep a competitive product on the field after losing Jimmy Garoppolo to an ACL in 2018.
Without his elite weapons, Shanahan’s game plans will really be put to the test. It should be fun to see how one of the best offensive minds in the NFL adapts.
Wild cards have chances to shine
Just a few months ago, it was unknown how left tackle Trent Williams, running back Jerick McKinnon and tight end Jordan Reed would respond after missing all of 2019.
While Williams quickly erased any notion of rust with a dominant training camp, McKinnon's and Reed’s usage remained question marks heading into the regular season.
Now without their top quarterback, running back, tight end and wide receiver, the 49ers are no longer able to ease them back into action. They’re now depending on any healthy playmaker to keep the offense afloat.
Reed saw his snap count almost triple (10 to 28) as the red zone offense ran through him. He caught seven passes for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
Possibly without Kittle next week and Deebo Samuel for at least one more week, Reed is likely due another heavy workload at MetLife Stadium.
In addition to Raheem Mostert’s injury, backup Tevin Coleman was also listed on the injury report with a knee problem. That leaves McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. as the only healthy running backs on the roster.
McKinnon has just six rushing attempts in two games thus far, but has turned in an impressive 101 yards. Suddenly, the guy with six carries since 2017 is the best option.
Jimmy Garoppolo looked on point in the first half, but a high ankle sprain ended his day. Nick Mullens was not great, but that’s understandable for a backup thrust into action with no preseason. He’ll have an entire week of practice with the first team and should look a lot more composed and prepared.
No one would have guessed the 49ers would need big performances from Mullens, Reed and McKinnon to beat the 0-2 Giants. Yet, here we are.
The 49ers are not alone
Although it seems like the sky is falling in the Bay Area, the 49ers are not the only team dealing with injuries.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin also tore their ACLs on Sunday.
Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey is out for an extended time with an ankle injury.
Garoppolo wasn’t even the only starting quarterback to go down. Denver lost Drew Lock to a rotator cuff strain.
Without preseason, reserves are not as prepared as they normally would be. A good portion of the NFL will have their depth put to the test.
Follow me on Twitter @Mavpallack