Garoppolo, Samuel, pass defense key 49ers’ win
DETROIT >> Opening the season with a high-scoring win over the Detroit Lions was expected for the 49ers.
Unexpected was nearly choking away a 28-point lead in the final two minutes.
The 49ers piled up just enough points to escape a frightful, injury-strewn fourth quarter for a 41-33 win.
“Kyle (Shanahan) actually asked the team, ‘How do we feel about the win?’ And nobody said anything,” wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. “We have to finish the game like we started it.”
Earlier, the 49ers showcased a play-making pass defense, scoring runs by surprise ball carriers and, as advertised, a doublewhammy quarterback duet with Jimmy Garoppolo’s 314 yards passing and Trey Lance’s intriguing cameos.
There were personnel surprises along the way: Wide receiver Trent Sherfield
seized most of Brandon Aiyuk’s reps and when Raheem Mostert went down early, sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell (104 yards) emerged rather than Trey Sermon, a thirdround pick and healthy scratch.
There were familiar sights, too, such as Samuel (189 receiving yards) and George Kittle (78 yards) making open-field moves, and an elite pass rush that got a sack apiece from Nick Bosa and Dee Ford in their return from 2020 injuries.
The 49ers didn’t escape unscathed. Mostert left with a knee injury, but the bigger blow came with cornerback Jason Verrett’s own knee injury — feared to be a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament — with 7:50 remaining.
The Lions pressed to erase a 24-point deficit in the final minutes with pair of touchdowns and twopoint conversions. On their final drive, they reached the 49ers’ 24-yard line in the closing seconds before Jared Goff’s final two passes fell incomplete, preserving the Niners’ win.
So it wasn’t perfect, from Garoppolo fumbling away the first snap of the season, to the run defense caving a bit too much, to that frightful fourth quarter.
But it came with the 49ers’ most points in a season opener since a 49-7 win in Dennis Erickson’s 2003 coaching debut against the Bears. The top takeaways: QUARTERBACK SHUFFLE
Garoppolo and Lance didn’t swap places as often as they did in the preseason finale two weeks ago, and Garoppolo thought the duet’s debut went “pretty smooth,” with Lance playing only four snaps.
Lance entered for two snaps on the opening touchdown drive and didn’t get in again until a thirdand-20 run for a 2-yard gain in the third quarter. Lance’s fourth snap was a predictable third-and-1 keeper that was stopped for a 1-yard loss late in the third quarter.