The 49ers were cruising to the victory, but a late rally from the Lions left few questions behind. Here are the top takeaways from Week 1.
The 49ers should evaluate the future of injury-prone players.
Hours before the game, I wrote that managing the workload of Raheem Mostert as a critical point. The idea was to limit him to roughly 10 carries for the game. Afterward, it looks like that number is way too much for him. The team is already without Javon Kinlaw, and waiting forever to see Jalen Hurd on a real NFL game. Plus Jason Verrett is out for the season with a torn ACL, so this team will struggle against its three divisional rivals. Gambling on injury-prone yet talented players is not viable for 49ers who endured a difficult 2020 season. It is time to put out the "Availability is the best ability." banner in Santa Clara.
The two-quarterback system is a fake
The 49ers boasted about the idea of mesmerizing opposite teams with a two-quarterback scheme. Trey Lance had his first NFL career touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield. Jimmy Garoppolo played almost the entire game, even with a considerable fourth quarter lead. From the very beginning, the idea looks out of the ordinary. The 49ers need to stick with their choice of QB1 in the upcoming games.
Garoppolo had a solid game.
Garoppolo completed 17 of 25 passes for 314 yards and a single touchdown. He fumbled the first 49ers snap of the season but was able to put it behind him and produce a strong display. He was back to his 2019 level showing more desire to scramble if needed while getting away from possible sacks. The overall performance from the quarterback is encouraging. He delivered on crucial third down plays, which is a trademark for Garoppolo.
The 49ers made the correct call by drafting a quarterback.
There is no need to criticize Garoppolo after having an outstanding performance. Still, watching Sunday Night Football reminded me why the 49ers needed to draft Trey Lance. Matthew Stafford rolled left and fired a canon across his body for a 67-yard touchdown. Later, another 56 yards to Cooper Kupp demonstrated why Sean McVay went all in for Stafford.
Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Stafford are like the best friend someone has whenever needed the most. Just one play out of nowhere from any of these three is enough to push the opposing team off balance. With the NFL's more quarterback-friendly player protection rules, Wilson and Stafford will stay for a minimum of five years in NFC west. To challenge these teams every year, you need a mobile quarterback with a strong arm.
The safeties are good.
Both Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward played well. They indirectly contributed to the Dre Greenlaw interception. In the previous play, Jared Goff had ample time in the pocket, but the safety duo covered the wide receivers, which forced Goff to go lateral to D'Andre Swift, who gained no positive yards. That forced Goff to try a dangerous play that ended with 7 points for the 49ers. Ward had a good tackle against Swift when he broke through the middle, acting as the last man on the defense. Tartt stopped the receiver on track in a separate play, but the play was called back for unnecessary roughness. They will have their work cut out in games to come.