Jimmy Garoppolo was sharp, the San Francisco running game was efficient and the defense delivered another dominant performance.
The opener of a two-game East Coast swing for the 49ers looked good on the scoreboard with a 37-15 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, but proved precious on the injury report.
The Niners (3-2) lost starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to a knee injury that ended the season, safety Jimmie Ward to a broken hand, star edge rusher Nick Bosa to an injured groin and kicker Robbie Gould to a bruised knee.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said the team would know more about how long Ward will be out after he has surgery this week.
Bosa and Gould will test their injuries this week to see if they can spare time, but the Niners will be putting kickers in for tryouts just in case.
They join a long list of major player injuries, including quarterback Trey Lance, left tackle Trent Williams, running backs Elijah Mitchell and Ty Davis-Price, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw.
“I think it happens to other teams too. I don’t want to say we are the only ones,” said Shanahan. “It’s a challenge when it happens. You hope for better luck.”
This is not a new development for the Niners, who have become accustomed to going through a long list of injuries each season.
Their 2018 and 2020 seasons were derailed by injuries, but they overcame some important ones in 2019 en route to a Super Bowl appearance and last season as they headed to the NFC title game.
“I mean, of course we didn’t want that to be the case. You don’t want to be familiar with dealing with big losses,” said linebacker Fred Warner. “But we understand the game we play. Violent play and as easy as it is to say we should be the next guy, it’s not like we don’t think about those guys and miss them. But we’re going to find a way to continue and continue to play at a high level.”
Third violation. The Niners converted 7 out of 12 first attempts, mainly thanks to a strong performance from Garoppolo. He completed 8 of 9 passes in third place for 118 yards and a 4-yard touchdown pass t o Deebo Samuel.
Garoppolo’s completions led to all seven conversions, which were the second most third-down conversion passes by a Niners QB in the past 20 seasons. Only Garoppolo’s nine conversions in a 2019 Arizona win had more.
WHAT NEEDS HELP?
Special teams. Gould missed his league-high third field goal from within 45 yards when he blocked a 43-yarder in the second quarter. The Niners then allowed two long kickoff returns in the third quarter with a 45-yarder and a 48-yarder giving Carolina two scores. Gould injured his knee while making a tackle on the second return.
RB Tevin Coleman returned to the Niners earlier this season after playing with the Jets last season and got his first action on Sunday. He made a big impact with a 9-yard TD catch on the opening drive, a Reception of 30 meters on a deep pass that yielded a field goal and a 5-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Coleman had 67 yards from scrimmage and had his first TDs since the 2019 season.
“I showed that I still have it,” he said. “It was definitely fun to play with this team.”
Samuel as running back. After rushing 105 yards for the first two weeks, Samuel has been quiet as a runner. He had two carries for 12 yards on Sunday and has rushed just 20 yards in the past three games.
Two other injuries from the game were not serious and CB Deommodore Lenoir (wrist) and RB Jeff Wilson Jr. (bruised shoulder) were not expected to miss a moment.
6. The Niners followed a seven-sack appearance against the Rams last week with Sunday six more. It was the first time since the first two weeks of the 1985 season that San Francisco had back-to-back games with at least six sacks. The season’s 21 sacks are the most through five games for the Niners since they had 22 in 1998.
The 49ers will practice in West Virginia for a week before wrapping up their Atlanta road trip on Sunday.
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