Winning The Battle But Losing The War

Jason Verrett was the most important player on the 49ers defense.

Sometimes your favorite team loses and you feel good about it. If I were a Dallas Cowboys fan, I would like what I saw on opening night. 

Sometimes your team wins yet you leave feeling nervous about what the future holds. I would say this is the case with the San Francisco 49ers win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Anytime your team wins, you should be happy because it is genuinely hard to win in the National Football League. Unfortunately, since the 49ers Super Bowl year, there is always a game within the game -- injuries. And on Sunday, they got blown out in this game within the game.

Raheem Mostert left Sunday's action early with a knee injury, which in turn left the 49ers without their top running back for the rest of the game. Although Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty played well, this team will absolutely miss the presence of their top running back for any extended period of time. 

Dre Greenlaw also left Sunday's action with an apparent groin injury after capping off the first half with a pick six. 

I wish I could stop here and close out the article, but it gets much worse. Jason Verrett, who I would argue was the most important defensive player on this team, also went down with an injury. It is feared Jason has a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

During the offseason, the 49ers elected to wait until Round 3 to address the corner position. They then doubled down by not going after some really good corners during the second wave of free agency, corners such as A.J. Bouye and Steven Nelson. Instead, the 49ers elected to stand pat and add a late addition in Josh Norman. Now it seems likely that Richard Sherman will rejoin this team after Kyle Shanahan admitted in the post game presser they have remained in close contact with the former 49ers corner. 

Heading into the season, it was clear the 49ers were angling their secondary around a man-coverage defense that would be aggressive. Now it seems they will have to pivot quickly to zone defense and rely on a four-man pass rush. This means the 49ers will be in the same base defense that they ran in much of 2019. Although this defense can win in the regular season, it puts a lot of pressure on the front four to make things hard for opposing quarterbacks. It remains to be seen if the 49ers can make a base zone defense work for them through a Super Bowl run. Thus far, it has not done the trick.

There is a lot to digest with Sunday's game. But as fans turn their sights to the Philadelphia Eagles and beyond, there is a lot to be concerned about. Can aging players or rookies contribute at a high level? Time will tell, but leaving with a tick in the win column doesn't feel near as good as it should.