San Francisco got their first win of the season in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but the ground at MetLife Field took more than it gave the 49ers, as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running back Raheem Mostert, defensive end Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas all were pulled out of the game due to injury.
For a big win, it was arguably the worst-case scenario for San Francisco, and they’ll have to now wait and see exactly what the severity of all four players’ issues are while also waiting for the return of previously injured stars TE George Kittle, CB Richard Sherman and WR Deebo Samuel.
In the meantime, the 49ers will be pleased to see players step up in their places, as running back Jerick McKinnon continues his rebirth after two seasons injured, as did tight end Jordan Reed who brought down two scores after missing all of 2019.
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McKinnon, Reed Make the Most of their Chances
Without the best tight end in the NFL, one might think that the 49ers would struggle to get much going through passes to tight ends. But San Francisco signed up Reed knowing that he could make plays, and he proved that in Week 2.
It wasn’t just an explosive day for Reed, but a consistent one. With seven receptions on eight targets, Reed got open and had sure hands pretty much all day, even with a battered Jimmy G throwing him the ball.
As for McKinnon, his second-half score put away a game that was pretty much already sealed, but just proved that the running back still has the lateral quickness you need at the running back position.
Jerick Mckinnon really took it 55 yards on 3rd & 31 👀
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 20, 2020
If Mostert’s injury will have him out for a while, McKinnon is showing he’s capable for more touches after taking just three touches for 79 yards and a score.
Defense Remains Dominant
After Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray gave the 49ers fits last week from a pass-rushing perspective, the team was a bit more consistent in Week 2, although it only translated to one sack coming through defensive lineman Arik Armstead.
Kerry Hyder and Kevin Givens added three hits on Jets QB Sam Darnold, which is a good sign considering Bosa’s injury and Ford’s absence. If the 49ers can still get reasonable amounts of pressure from their backups, it can still be disruptive enough to make things difficult for opponents.
Interestingly enough, the 49ers’ impressive defensive display came without a forced turnover, which shows that the defense was consistently shutting down the Jets, although that hasn’t been much of a challenge over the past couple years.
It won’t be easy for San Francisco to overcome injuries, but the importance placed on depth throughout the preseason is already paying off.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.