49ers 41, Lions 33: Grades

Grading the San Francisco 49ers position by position after their 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions.
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DETROIT -- Here are the San Francisco 49ers' grades for their 41-33 win over the Detroit Lions.


Jimmy Garoppolo played a good, efficient game after he fumbled the first snap and the Lions recovered. Garoppolo tends to settle down and play well after he commits his weekly turnover. Maybe he should fumble the first snap every week. You know, just get it over with. Because afterward the fumble, he was sharp. He completed 68 percent of his passes and posted a passer rating of 124.2. Granted, he faced the worst defense in the league and his one touchdown pass was underthrown, but still, this performance was a confidence booster for him. Trey Lance also played a few snaps, attempted one throw and it was a touchdown. But his running plays didn't work. The 49ers should let him throw more often. So far, all of his pass attempts have resulted in touchdowns. That's a fact.


Raheem Mostert injured his knee on his second carry, and third-round pick Trey Sermon was a healthy scratch. So almost instantly, the 49ers were down to two running backs -- Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty. And truthfully, all they needed was Mitchell. He ran the ball 19 times for 104 yards and 1 touchdown. He looks like a starting running back. The 49ers should be OK even if Mostert misses time.


Deebo Samuel was the best player on the field, but he made a terrible mistake when he fumbled after picking up the first down that should have ended the game. All he needed to do was fall down. Still, he's going to have a monster season. And so will Trent Sherfield -- he caught a touchdown pass from Trey Lance. Brandon Aiyuk might not have such a good season, though. He didn't start this game -- he was the No. 3 receiver. It seems Shanahan isn't too pleased with him.


George Kittle had a standard Geoge Kittle performance -- 4 catches, 78 yards, 0 touchdowns. Also committed a false start in the fourth quarter when the 49ers nearly blew a 24-point lead. Also fumbled an onside kick. More on that below.


Gave up only one sack, because the 49ers committed to the run and the play-action passing game, which are the strengths of the offensive line.


Javon Kinlaw was inactive, and without him the 49ers couldn't stop the run between the tackles. Zach Kerr and Kevin Givens in particular got pushed around and had terrible gap integrity. This issue would have hurt the 49ers more had the Lions not fallen behind so quickly. They'll need Kinlaw to return as soon as possible. Kentavius Street made his first start and recorded a sack. He's a much better pass rusher than Kinlaw. Nick Bosa also recorded a sack, although rookie Penei Sewell kept him in check for most of the game.


Fred Warner had a team-high 11 tackles, and Dre Greenlaw had a pick 6 before he left the game with an injured groin. His replacement, Azeez Al-Shaair, looked just as explosive as Greenlaw. The 49ers have excellent linebacker depth.


They faced the worst wide receiver group in the NFL, and they played well until Jason Verrett left the game with a knee injury. But after Verrett went down, Lions quarterback Jared Goff found courage and the 49ers defense gave up 16 points in seven minutes. Verrett arguably is the most valuable player on the team, because he doesn't have a quality backup. Without him, the 49ers have a group of cornerbacks that no one fears. The 49ers should have taken this position more seriously in the offseason, because this injury could ruin the season.


Jaquiski Tartt gave up a touchdown catch to T.J. Hockenson, and Jimmie Ward missed a tackle in the open field that led to a touchdown. Usually those two don't give up big plays, but they did in this game.


Robbie Gould missed a field goal, and George Kittle fumbled an onside kick when he tried to catch it with his face, which always is a bad idea. This mistake almost cost the 49ers the game. Kittle is a captain and needs to play better.


Kyle Shanahan the offensive coordinator had a terrific game plan, but let's be honest -- any game plan would have worked against the Lions' putrid defense. Shanahan could have called practically anything and the 49ers would have scored 40 points. So, good for him. His defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans, performed well early, but the Lions made good halftime adjustments and he didnt, so his defense gave up 33 points. 

But Ryans isn't the main reason the coaches get a D. Shanahan the head coach mostly is responsible for this grade, because he left his most important and most injury-prone defensive player on the field with a 24-point lead and just seven minutes left. I understand Shanahan couldn't bench all of his starters, but if there was one starter he should have benched and protected up 24 with seven minutes remaining, it was Verrett. Duh. Now, if he's out for the season, reaching the Super Bowl will be much more difficult unless Josh Norman plays like he did five years ago. What a shame. 

It's always good to win, but this win over an abysmal opponent came at a tremendous cost.