San Francisco Chronicle

S.F. fans endure pain of victory following opener

- SCOTT OSTLER

Why does the 49ers’ 1-0 record feel more like 0-3?

On Sunday, the 49ers opened their season with a 41-33 win in Detroit. Their maligned quarterbac­k looked pretty darn good, but this Super Bowl train seemed to have jumped the rails and careened down Main Street with no brakes.

Having a perfect record just isn’t what it used to be.

The injuries, of course, were the worst part. Lightning-bolt running back Raheem Mostert suffered a knee injury and will miss half the season. Cornerback Jason Verrett, a

huge key to the defense, blew out a knee and his 2021 season is over.

Sad to say, but that’s so 49ers. This is the team that is without last season’s leading rusher, Jeff Wilson, because he injured a knee in May by standing up from a chair. The media doesn’t get into the locker room anymore, but I’m guessing the 49ers have posted signs, “Please stand up slowly.”

Verrett’s injury came while he was making a play on turf. It’s way past time for the NFL and the Players Associatio­n to work together to rip out all that cursed green carpet around the league and replace it with that wonder surface known as grass. Playing on turf is like letting your kids play tackle on the street. And don’t wear your helmet, son, it will get scratched up on the blacktop.

You can’t build an NFL team by drafting and signing only players with no injury history, because you would suit up 53 field-goal kickers. But the 49ers might lean too far the other way. They traded for defensive end Dee Ford and drafted defensive end Nick Bosa — both had injury histories and both missed nearly all of last season.

The 49ers cast their fate with Jimmy Garoppolo three years ago, signing him to a five-year, $137.5 million deal even though he’d been injured as a part-timer in New England. He lost most of the 2018 and 2020 seasons to injuries.

Verrett? Shoulder injury in college. In the NFL: shoulder issues, torn ACL in 2016, knee surgery in ’17, torn Achilles in ’18. He played in six of 64 games from 2016 through ’19.

Even before the Verrett injury, the 49ers had been knocking on Richard Sherman’s door, so to speak. Only two problems there: One, last season Sherman’s loss of speed made him attackable. Two, a cloud hovers over Sherman after his July arrest following a strange domestic incident.

Sherman owned up, apologized (but still faces misdemeano­r charges), and presumably has been getting counseling. But whatever his issues are, they might not be “curable” by a couple of months of therapy. Plus, the 49ers don’t have a great track record for evaluating such things — see: Reuben Foster (who, incidental­ly, is another example of the 49ers gambling on an injury-prone player and losing).

The 49ers, along with struggling to find enough healthy players to field a team, also are dealing with an embarrassi­ng report that surfaced Sunday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter, no loose cannon, reported that the 49ers got played in this year’s draft. Or maybe they played themselves.

Shefter reported that the 49ers traded up from No. 12 to No. 3, at the cost of two first-round picks, because they wanted quarterbac­k Mac Jones and were afraid that the Patriots would leapfrog them and snag Jones.

But once the 49ers moved up, they decided they liked Trey Lance better. So they cost themselves two golden picks (plus a third-rounder), and the Patriots stayed at No. 15 and got their man, Jones.

Some interpret the report to mean that Shanahan really did want Jones, but caved to the outrage of 49ers fans and media critics, many of whom didn’t want another slow, dropback passer in this, the age of the dual-threat QB.

That report became more cringey for the 49ers on Sunday when Lance took just four snaps in a cameo backup role, and Jones looked poised and solid as a starter in his first NFL game (which the Patriots lost).

I doubt the theory that Shanahan changed his mind because he feared the wrath of media and fans. He doesn’t strike me as a head coach who licks his finger to test the wind. But he is the head coach who passed up Patrick Mahomes in 2017 because he preferred a proven oldschool quarterbac­k.

But back to the present. The 49ers, with those Super Bowl dreams, were nearly chased down in the fourth quarter Sunday by a really bad team, like mail-carriers fleeing a pack of vicious dogs. Next up is a solid team, the Eagles.

The 49ers will get full, official credit for Sunday’s win, so they are 1-0 for real. But “undefeated” just doesn’t carry the weight it once did.

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