What We Saw: Week 1

Deebo Samuel became the King of the Jungle after his performance against the Lions.

49ers @ Lions

Final Score: 49ers 41, Lions 33

Writer: Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)


This game featured one of the more lopsided lines of the week and by halftime, it looked the part. The 49ers went into the half leading 31-10, not yet having punted after fumbling the opening snap of the season. Quite frankly, when the 49ers weren’t stopping themselves, they weren’t stopped. While it’s clear they are quite aways away from competing, the Lions had a lot of bright spots, including LT Penei Sewell, who drew a monumental task in stopping Nick Bosa. He won most of his snaps but inevitably lost some big downs to help stop drives. They had impressive performances from their two best receiving options which are, of course, TE T.J. Hockenson and RB D’Andre Swift, who looked to be on a different level from their teammates.


San Francisco 49ers




Jimmy Garoppolo: 17/25, 314 yards, TD | 3 carries, 2 yards

Trey Lance: 1/1, 5 yards, TD | 3 carries, 2 yards


After the very first snap of the 49ers’ season was fumbled, Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient. It may sound a bit cold, but that’s how the 49ers succeed. Jimmy was accurate, his first incompletion came with around 30 seconds left in the half. That said, he was only 7-for-7 before that. He led multiple scoring drives in 2-minute drills but had locked on to Deebo Samuel. If the passing game is going to take a step forward, Jimmy will need to get more players involved and actively push the ball downfield. Plays like the 79-yard TD to Deebo were more about the adjustment and the YAC and less about the floater that was thrown well behind him. It was a performance that paid off for 2QB or SuperFlex Leagues, but not one that gives me much faith for weekly success.

It was nice to see Lance start to get snaps in live-action and he looked well composed with his few opportunities. He threw a nice pass to Sherfield that led him well toward the endzone making it an easy pitch and catch for a score. His rushes were less than electric, but again, he handled himself well. It’ll start to get interesting if the offense beings to get stagnant under Jimmy.



Running Backs


Raheem Mostert: 2 carries, 20 yards

Elijah Mitchell: 19 carries, 104 yards, TD

JaMycal Hasty: 1 carry, 3 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 15 yards


Mostert’s line is perfectly Mostert. 10 YPC and an injury in the first quarter that kept him from returning to the game. The good news is that by all reports, they do not believe it to be an ACL injury. Mitchell was a different player today, looking more like the back in the first part of camp and not the one that seemed a cut candidate in their final preseason game. The offensive line gave him plenty of open space to work with, and he did a lot of damage on tosses and sweeps.



He did well to keep his legs going through tackles, but he’s going to continue to need the line to move defenders out reliably. If Mostert can’t go next week, he would seem to be in line for the primary workload. Trey Sermon should eventually profile as their RB1, but if Shanny didn’t feel he needed Sermon this week, it would serve that he would work behind Mitchell next week.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


Deebo Samuel: 12 targets, 9 receptions, 189 yards, TD

Trent Sherfield: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards, TD

George Kittle: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 78 yards

Brandon Aiyuk: 0 targets


Deebo. Deebo. Deebo. and then some Deebo. That was Jimmy’s progression. He did well to high point the more difficult passes and his focus was what made that long touchdown possible; Deebo made a great midair adjustment and then showed us why he is a YAC king.


He out-targeted Aiyuk 12-0 which was incredibly peculiar.  Shanahan mentioned that Aiyuk was still fighting a sore hamstring and didn’t want to rush him back as they were comfortable shuffling in him, Deebo, and Sherfield regardless. Aiyuk returned some punts but was replaced in that role soon after as well. It’s obviously concerning to fantasy managers, and it’s impossible to run him out with confidence next week, but his minuscule snap count combined with his replacement on special teams, at least somewhat backs up Shanahan’s injury comment. Kittle did a lot of work on screens and PA but was rarely asked to do much otherwise.



Trent Sherfield has now caught Trey Lance‘s 1st preseason and regular season TDs. Maybe they can meet up again in the playoffs. He had a solid enough game outside of that, but no one was much of a presence other than Deebo in the passing game.


Detroit Lions




Jared Goff: 38/57, 338 yards, 3 TD, INT, 3 Sacks | 3 carries, 14 yards


There were some positive signs today. Given how few people have even a shred of faith in him to succeed, I’d say Jared Goff did just fine. He executed a conservative game plan which was what we expected from Detroit. However, it seemed like there may be a bit more there. There were quite a few drives that sputtered out on passes that were just off in one way or another. With some time in the system with these young receivers, there may be some success down the line. I would feel confident with him as my QB2 after this game, especially if he can clean up his game when under pressure.



Running Backs


D’Andre Swift: 11 carries, 39 yards | 11 targets, 8 receptions, 65 yards, TD

Jamaal Williams: 9 carries, 54 yards, TD | 9 targets, 8 receptions, 56 yards


The answer to, “Who Should I Start?” was simply, yes. Both backs performed well on the ground and in the air, but it is apparent that Swift is a special back. Every time the offensive line made a hole for him, he hit a speed burst and shot through the line for big gains. Williams may be the better option on the ground for this line if it can’t find a way to open up more opportunities for the backs but in the air, Swift is unmatched. He ran routes in over 60% of passing plays, which is what you expect from someone like Alvin Kamara. In a game where Swift was supposed to be limited, he proved why he should’ve been higher in most people’s rankings.



Williams’ work in the air was mostly back-loaded from when the game seemed out of reach, but this game script is what I fully expect all year. They’ll keep it close for a while, then eventually drop off and be forced to abandon the run.


Wide Receivers/Tight Ends


T.J. Hockenson: 10 targets, 8 receptions, 97 yards, TD

Amon-Ra St. Brown: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards

Trinity Benson: 6 targets, 3 reception, 19 yards

Quintez Cephus: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 12 yards, TD

Tyrell Williams: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards

Kalif Raymond: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 50 yards | 1 rush, 9 yards


The wideouts were not the story of the game, but as previously mentioned, there were moments where it seemed they might pull it together. The 49ers’ secondary is their obvious weakness, so it would’ve been nice to have at least one receiver try to separate himself from the pack. Kalif Raymond was involved in the run game, not only taking a carry but running pre-snap motions as well. He led the group in yards by a healthy margin but the targets just weren’t there. Cephus seems like an eventual Flex player if he can grow off this game, but otherwise, it is an underwhelming bunch. The real story of the game was T.J. Hockenson. His route running looked tighter than most of the wideouts and he shrugged off a decent amount of contact today. He played faster and stronger than the Lions’ wideouts and like Swift, showed why he is the heart of this offense in 2021.



Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

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