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Five winners and three Losers from the 49ers win over the Lions

San Francisco 49ers vs Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Only the 49ers could take a 41-17 lead and turn that into a game that comes down to the final possession. The stress levels were at an all-time high, but San Francisco pulled out a victory despite taking some substantial losses during the game.

Let’s look at some of the winners and losers from Sunday’s win over the Lions.

Winners

Deebo Samuel

Yes, he had the fumble that gave Detroit a chance to tie the game at the end. But, Samuel also led all receivers with 109 yards after the catch, caught nine of his 12 targets — six of them went for first downs — and reminded everyone how talented of a player he is when he’s healthy.

Will Samuel have another game where he has 189 receiving yards? Probably not. Teams must account for him at every level after Sunday, which opens up the offense for everyone else. Deebo was a clear winner Sunday.

Elijah Mitchell

Where the heck did this performance come from? If you didn’t know any better, Raheem Mostert never left the game. Mitchell looked like a Mostert clone the way he outran the Lions on his 38-yard touchdown.

Mitchell also broke three tackles, ran for four first downs, and had 40 of his 104 yards after contact. He ran hard, fell forward, and ran through arm tackles. Mitchell set the bar high for himself after Week 1.

I’m fascinated to see if Mitchell’s role expands with Mostert out. I don’t mean carries, as Mitchell had 19. That’s already a signal that he has Kyle Shanahan’s trust. If he can produce in the passing game, Trey Sermon might become an afterthought.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy’s stat line looks incredible. 17-for-25 for 314 yards and averaged 12.6 yards per attempt. Garoppolo finished Week 1 fourth in EPA per play among all QBs and eighth in success rate.

Jimmy looked how we expected. He’s not a winner because of his stat line, but because of how he played. I loved Garoppolo using his legs and buying more time. He ran out of a couple of sacks, bought time in the pocket when he needed it, and got rid of the ball time.

There were a few throws Jimmy would like to have back, but I think the biggest takeaway on the touchdown pass to Deebo was Garoppolo’s willingness to give his guy a chance. We saw the best-case scenario when you do that.

Losers

Javon Kinlaw

What’s going on with Kinlaw? He hasn’t been healthy all year. When I say the year, I mean 2021. He had surgery in January. He couldn’t fly on a plane over the summer. Since training camp started, he’s been in and out of the lineup.

More often than not, during the preseason practices, Kinlaw didn’t participate during team drills. I’d argue that Kinlaw’s injury is a bigger deal than Jason Verrett’s or Raheem Mostert’s. Why? Kinlaw doesn’t come with an injury history — at the NFL level, at least.

Part of me feels like Kinlaw’s injury is more severe than the team is leading on. Of course, I hope that’s not the case and that he plays. But, when you consider who the team gave up to replace Kinlaw and how that guy is always available, you begin to wonder...

Ambry Thomas/Dontae Johnson

Thomas allowed all three of his targets to be completed for 44 yards. Johnson was targeted five times and allowed three catches for 25 yards, including a touchdown. Both players allowed a QB rating in the 110s.

As much as I want to chalk this up to garbage time, the 49ers were blitzing at the end of the game. They were putting pressure on Jared Goff, but the cornerbacks on the outside didn’t respond. It’s not as if Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones were out there for Detroit.

There’s a reason the 49ers signed Dre Kirkpatrick and will potentially add another cornerback. It’s not just related to Verrett’s injury. It’s so these two do not have to see the field. It was tough-sledding for Thomas and Johnson Week 1.

Brandon Aiyuk

Aiyuk is learning that you can’t coast or go through the motions in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan said the team wanted to be cautious because Aiyuk was fresh off a hamstring injury. That sounds great in theory until you realize Aiyuk returned a punt.

If you’re worried about his hamstring, why let him return a punt?

Something is up. Nobody knows exactly what that something is, but Aiyuk is in the doghouse, no matter what Shanahan says.

I wonder how much of this “punishment” had to do with the team playing the Lions. Would Shanahan have taken played his No. 1 wide receiver in a divisional game? I lean yes.

It’s tough love, and this isn’t new from Shanahan. We’ll see how Aiyuk responds.

Winners

Offensive line

I include George Kittle in this as he destroyed a few Lions defenders. Between him, Trent Williams, and Alex Mack, the offensive line served pancakes all day. Williams, Mack, and Laken Tomlinson didn’t have any blown blocks in pass protection, while Daniel Brunskill and Mike McGlinchey only allowed one.

Jimmy G, Deebo, and Mitchell don’t shine on Sunday without the five guys up front.

“The trio”

The 49ers invested in their secondary by signing defensive linemen. Getting back Dee Ford and Nick Bosa is a luxury no team in the NFL had. Arik Armstead had nine pressures with one QB hit.

When Armstead doesn’t have to be “the guy,” he’s a terrific pass rusher. Bosa’s sack was one of the most impressive ones of the week. He added another QB hit and was equally as good against the run.

Ford had a timely sack around the edge, and both he and Bosa had at least five pressures. The trio played as we all expected: dominant.