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What we learned in 49ers’ injury-marred win over Jets

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The 49ers were coming off a rough season opener, but nothing as bad as what happened in Week 2 against the New York Jets.

This victory was great and all for the 49ers, who evened their record through two games with a 31-13 victory over the Jets.

But it might not have been worth the ultimate cost.

In a disastrous span of three plays in the first quarter Sunday, 49ers defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were carted off with what coach Kyle Shanahan feared to be long-term knee injuries.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Raheem Mostert played one half apiece. Garoppolo sustained a right ankle injury early in the game and gutted it out through the end of the first half. Mostert had a knee injury late in the first half and did not return.

There were an alarming number of leg injuries for both teams on the newly installed artificial surface field at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

And there’s more bad news: The 49ers are scheduled to play on the same surface next week against the New York Giants.

Both Garoppolo and Mostert did enough damage during their time in the game to give the 49ers all the points they would need to beat the Jets (0-2).

The 49ers took control of the game in the first 17 seconds. That’s how long it took for the 49ers to return the opening kickoff to the 20, then for Mostert to take a toss from Garoppolo, get to the right sideline and sprint 80 yards for a touchdown.

 

The injury to Bosa, in particular, could have huge consequences for the 49ers for the remainder of the season. Bosa, one of the NFL’s rising stars, was on numerous short lists as an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

The 49ers already playing without edge rusher Dee Ford, who was ruled out for the game on Saturday because of a neck injury.

Thomas, who never lived up to his draft status as the No. 3 overall pick in 2017, was expected to serve an important role as part of the team’s defensive line rotation during his contract year.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers' first win of 2020.

Garoppolo guts it out

Garoppolo was hobbled early the game when Jets second-year defensive tackle Quinnen Williams dropped him for an 8-yard sack. Shanahan said after the game that Garoppolo sustained a high-ankle sprain.

But Garoppolo, who struggled in the 49ers’ season-opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals, was not in any hurry to come out of the game.The QB remained in the game despite being in obvious discomfort.

Garoppolo completed 14 of 16 pass attempts for 131 yards with two touchdown passes to tight end Jordan Reed. He had a 140.4 passer rating, but did not return after halftime. The 49ers held a 21-3 lead heading into halftime.

Nick Mullens entered the game at the half for his first legitimate game action since the end of the 2018 season. Mullens started the final eight games of that season and averaged 285 passing yards per game. He ranks fourth all-time in passing yards through eight games behind only Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

Mullens, playing the final 30 minutes, completed eight of 11 attempts for 71 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Warner shows star power

Richard Sherman did not play, as he will miss at least three games while on injured reserve with a calf strain. Bosa was carted off early in the game when his left knee buckled.

This was a difficult one for the 49ers’ defense, to continue to play with two of their top standouts.

Linebacker Fred Warner will have to do more. And that’s exactly what he did Sunday against the Jets.

Warner was all over the field. He registered 12 total tackles in the game, and none was bigger than his fourth-down stop on a fourth-and-1 run play when the Jets had the ball at the 49ers’ 20-yard line and were threatening to get back into the game.

The 49ers came through with a strong game against the run and the pass. Frank Gore, the 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, got the start for the Jets and gained 63 yards on 21 carries.

 
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Reed picks up slack for Kittle

There has never been any question of veteran Reed’s skill as a pass-catcher. The 49ers signed him this summer to provide another weapon to complement All-Pro tight end George Kittle.

With Kittle out of action with a knee sprain, Reed got his chance and delivered. Reed caught six of the seven passes Garoppolo tossed his way in the first half. He had 49 yards receiving, including touchdown receptions of 18 and 4 yards.

Reed finished with seven catches for 51 yards.

It was Reed’s first two-touchdown game since Oct. 23, 2017, when he had two scores for Washington against the Philadelphia Eagles. Reed did not play last season. He was not cleared to play after sustaining his seventh documented concussion during a preseason game.

The 49ers also got a big game from running back Jerick McKinnon, who gained 77 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown run, on just three rushing attempts.