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Winners and losers from the 49ers win over the Jets

The offensive line struggled, while the defensive line hung in there and played well after losing their star player.

NFL: SEP 13 Cardinals at 49ers Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Usually, after you beat an NFL team thoroughly, there were plenty of great performances, and everyone is happy go lucky. San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday that the coaching staff spent time “bitching about the team’s injuries” after the game on the plane ride home. Let’s take a look at some winners and losers from the 49ers Week 2’s win over the Jets.

Winner

Jimmy Garoppolo

I imagine Shanahan ripped into Garoppolo pretty good after Week 1, and Jimmy G responded in a big way during the first half. Garoppolo was accurate on 85% of his passes. He should have had more yards if not for a Kendrick Bourne drop on a perfectly placed pass down the sidelines.

Garoppolo’s pocket presence was much better against the Jets, as was his decision-making. Jimmy G was decisive and knew where to go with the ball, despite missing his two best receivers in George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. I loved how Garoppolo didn’t flinch in the face of pressure and didn’t crack as the Jets continued to hit him time and time again. This is the type of performance the 49ers will need from Garoppolo when he returns to the lineup.

D.J. Jones

Jones had the most wins of any defensive lineman at four. He also had two stops and a tackle for loss. Jones did a great job holding his ground at the point of attack, which made life easier for the linebackers behind him to roam free and make plays. It was nice to see D.J. win as a passer. He came close to hitting the quarterback on a few rushes. I thought he was the best player on the defensive line Sunday.

Jerick McKinnon

McKinnon didn’t touch the ball often, but he made it count when he did. He forced three missed tackles and outran two Jets angles. I’m curious as to whether McKinnon will be the lead back. I think he falls into the category of “less is more,” and that’s not a knock. McKinnon gives the 49ers a nice change of pace back. He had a critical blitz pick up that helped Nick Mullens hit a receiver for a first down as well.

Losers

The offensive line

Garoppolo’s performance was more impressive when you add in the context of how poorly the offensive line played:

Even the backups were beaten on their one series.

I want to chalk up some of the line’s losses to the poor footing at the stadium, as it seemed like whenever Daniel Brunskill was asked to pull, he’d lose his footing. The same thing happened to Laken Tomlinson on a couple of plays. That feels like we’re not giving enough credit to the Jets, though, and that’s not fair to them. A “bad” game is anything over three blown blocks. As you can see, that’s everyone. Garland and Brunskill getting beaten as often as they did is inexcusable. Dwelley had five blown blocks on 28 snaps. That is...tough to do.

After a strong showing in Week 1, the 49ers were disappointing in Week 2. Let’s hope they bounce back against the Giants.

Ahkello Witherspoon

That final garbage-time touchdown makes Witherspoon’s stats look worse, but they were already bad before that play. Witherspoon allowed six receptions on eight targets for 117 yards. Five of those were blown coverages, meaning he wasn’t within arms distance of the receiver to make a play on the ball. Witherspoon also gave up four first downs and two plays over 20 yards. I thought he should have had, at worst, a pass breakup on one throw. Ahkello didn’t look like he was fully confident playing the “field” cornerback spot, which is to the wide side of the field. Instead of driving on routes, Witherspoon seemed worried about giving up the big play.

The 49ers will need ‘Spoon to play much more aggressive if he’s going to be on the field or else teams are going to pick on him.

MetLife Stadium

You’d be hard-pressed to find a game where there were more injuries in one half than in this game. A 31-13 victory shouldn’t feel like a loss, but it did. After the game, many of the players voiced their opinions on the stadium. The 49ers couldn’t even celebrate the win, knowing a couple of their teammates were out for the season.

San Francisco has to play at MetLife during Week 3 against the Giants, and you can’t help but wonder how much of a mental block there will be playing on that turf for the second week in a row.

Winners

Kerry Hyder Jr.

Hyder Jr. showed great hustle and effort on Sunday. He finished the game with six tackles, three wins, 2.5 stops, a tackle for loss, and a QB hit. He was active and disruptive, and that’s all you can ask from Hyder Jr. Ironically enough, Hyder Jr. had more success against left tackle Mehki Becton than Nick Bosa did before he went down with an injury. If Hyder can give the 49ers the same effort weekly that he did against the Jets, the defensive line will be in good shape moving forward.

Jordan Reed

Garoppolo looked like he had better chemistry and more trust with Reed than any other receiver not named George Kittle on the roster. The timing was there with Mullens, too. That speaks to the quality of Reed, who was the only wideout to receive a red-zone target. Reed also forced a pair of missed tackles. Next week, we’ll see an old friend, Blake Martinez—who the 49ers put under a microscope twice last year with the Packers—guarding Reed. Best of luck, Blake.