The 49ers returned to MetLife Field after a harrowing Sunday afternoon against the New York Jets in Week 2, losing several major players like quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Bosa to injury.
But the 49ers looked even better against the Giants than they did against the Jets, with stand-in QB Nick Mullens playing exceptionally well and the defense continuing to find a way forward despite the absence of Bosa and corner Richard Sherman.
With San Francisco at 2-1 and facing a Philadelphia Eagles team that just failed to win in overtime against the Cincinnati Bengals, the 49ers are continuing to do what’s required with a battered roster to keep divisional and playoff hopes alive.
Die-hard Niner with something to say? Join our community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook!
Mullens is Money and other Top Players
All eyes were on Mullens coming in for Garoppolo, and the backup didn’t disappoint with 343 yards and a score while completing 25 of 36 passes.
It’s exactly the type of performance that the 49ers needed, and if Mullens can continue to safely put the ball in the hands of San Francisco weapons, the team may not be in a hurry to get Jimmy G back out on the field like one might expect.
It helped that Mullens developed a good rapport with rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk, who eclipsed 100 total yards and continues to look more and more comfortable in his second game.
Like Mullens with Garoppolo, Aiyuk being able to be a field-stretching presence that also can take handoffs for a 10 yard average (and add a rushing touchdown) like he did Sunday is huge.
The last standout that needs mentioning is Kerry Hyder. The defensive end faces big shoes to fill while Bosa’s out for the season, but Hyder has continued to deliver, earning another sack on Sunday.
Defensive line play is crucial to the 49ers’ success, and if Hyder and others can make an impact, the team’s chances get instantly better each game.
Sadly, the injury bug continues to follow San Francisco around, although the 49ers aren’t alone in that regard. The latest victims came through starting corner Emmanuel Moseley, who suffered a concussion, and tight end Jordan Reed who appears to be dealing with some type of ankle issue.
Every injury is unfortunate, but Reed’s is especially so due to the obvious factor that the former Washington tight end is filling in for injured TE George Kittle, but also for the fact that he missed the entirety of the 2019 season and chunks of previous years due to unrelated concussion injuries.
As for Moseley, it’s also disappointing because the second-year corner is continuing to develop and has done a decent job in taking over the second starting corner spot this year.
Hopefully, both will be swift recoveries, but if not, the 49ers will just have even more to figure out in terms of injuries and how to navigate the season.
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.