A 31-13 scoreline should mark a step forward for the San Francisco 49ers. However, the victory was not celebrated once the fog had cleared and the final reports came in. On Sunday, the 49ers took on the New York Jets in MetLife Stadium and even their record at one win and one loss. Unfortunately, the roster took a major hit due to injuries sustained during the game. Today we take a look at the three biggest takeaways from Sunday’s victory.
During the first quarter of Sunday’s game, defensive ends Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas went down on consecutive plays. Both players suffered knee injuries and it is feared that Bosa’s could be an ACL tear, severe enough to keep him out for the rest of the season. Thomas has been a valuable rotational player along the line, playing outside in base sets and moving to the inside to rush the passer. Bosa’s loss looms largest as he is the best overall defensive lineman on the roster. The second-year player has commanded double-teams and provides a problem for opposing offenses. There is no player available on the roster or on the streets that can be expected to replicate his impact.
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The second half started with the 49ers missing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Raheem Mostert. Garoppolo looked to have sprained his right ankle earlier in the first half. He played well after injuring his ankle, completing 14 of 16 attempts for 131 yards passing and two touchdowns. Mostert started the game with an 80-yard touchdown run on the game’s first play. He finished his day with 92-yards on the ground on just eight carries. Mostert also added 15-yards receiving on two receptions. Mostert is believed to have suffered a sprained knee. Another running back who reportedly suffered an injury was Tevin Coleman. The veteran runner reported also suffered a sprained knee. Preliminary reports have Garoppolo, Mostert, and Coleman missing a few weeks. The word on Bosa and Thomas could be season-ending injuries.
How about an 80-yard @RMos_8Ball touchdown to wake you up ‼️
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 20, 2020
Outside of Mostert’s scoring run, the remaining three touchdowns came from running back Jerick McKinnon and tight end Jordan Reed. While Tevin Coleman received the bulk of the carries on the day, it was McKinnon who delivered the biggest punch in the second half. On a 3rd and 31 from their own 11-yard line, McKinnon took a quick toss sweep to the right before cutting back across the formation and sped downfield for a 55-yard run. He would follow it up with a 16-yd touchdown run in the fourth quarter. It was the second touchdown of the season for the man nicknamed “Jet”, just the second touchdown he has scored in the last three injury-plagued seasons. One thing that never left McKinnon was his explosive first step.
Turned on the JETS for 55 yards 💨
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 20, 2020
The absence of tight end George Kittle left a major void in the San Francisco offense. Against the Jets, it was Jordan Reed who stepped up. Reed has suffered from concussions for the better part of the last three seasons. On the day, Reed was targeted eight times, snagging seven for 50-yards and two touchdowns. Reed’s first score was an 18-yard touchdown reception. On a quick throw into the flat, Reed broke a tackle and dove into the end zone. It was Reed’s first touchdown since the 2018 season. On the second score, Reed ran a four-yard out route. Reed showed a strong connection with Garoppolo in the first half and was a solid receiving threat against the Jets.
The next three weeks bring games against the Giants, Eagles, and Dolphins. They represent three winnable games if the 49ers can continue to withstand the injury bug. The 49ers brought in veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah to help fill the void left by the absence of Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, and Solomon Thomas. It is safe to assume that Kyle Shanahan will also play it safe with Garoppolo, Mostert, and Coleman. A move to the injured reserve list for either of the two running backs would not be out of the question as the current COVID-related rules allow for players to return after three weeks. The emergence of McKinnon would allow the 49ers to play things safe.
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The biggest question mark will be at quarterback. If Shanahan chooses to go with Nick Mullens, will the offense have enough spark in the passing game to alleviate pressure from the ground game? Injuries are a major concern for the 49ers but the schedule provides a chance for the team to enter the divisional battle against the Rams with a 4-1 record. By that point, we could see a fully healthy Garoppolo, Mostert, Kittle, and Richard Sherman. The next few games are winnable and would be a huge step towards a playoff birth.
At the end of the day, the 49ers secured their first win of the season. While the losses due to injuries hurt, earning the first victory of the season must not be overlooked. San Francisco is in for a battle for a playoff spot as the rest of the division sit at 2-0. However, the 49ers have a light schedule while they are attempting to recover from the early season injury bug. If the 49ers can weather this storm, they will be in prime position to make a move for the playoffs over the seasons last half of the season. The 49ers hope to find the next contributor to step up and make plays.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage 49ers. He also covers the Arizona Cardinals for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada