The San Francisco 49ers opened the 2021 season with a win on the road against the Detroit Lions.
It certainly wasn’t pretty. The 49ers defense stopped the Lions on their first offensive possession resulting in a turnover on downs. Yet, the ball was given right back as a bad exchange between center Alex Mack and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo resulted in a fumble.
Still Detroit wasn’t able to capitalize off the turnover as Austin Seibert missed a 51-yard field goal. Raheem Mostert got the offense started with run off 11 and nine yards. Yet, he suffered a knee injury that ended his day. Garoppolo then found George Kittle for 23 yards and on the next play Kyle Shanahan elected to use rookie quarterback Trey Lance who ran the ball for a yard.
Rookie Eli Mitchell then got his first carry of the game that went for three yards. A completion to Mohamed Sanu for seven yards resulted in Lance coming back in for his first career passing attempt and completion which went to Trent Shefield for a five yard touchdown.
The Lions answered with a touchdown of their own. With Jared Goff connecting with tight end T.J. Hockensen. Both Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift played key roles in that drive as well.
In the second quarter it was all San Francisco. Mitchell scored on a 38 yard touchdown run to give the 49ers a 14-7 lead. After a field goal by Detroit, JaMychal Hasty ran it in from three yards out, Dre Greenlaw returned an interception for a touchdown, and Robbie Gould connected on a 40-yard field goal for a 31-10 halftime lead.
To start the second half the 49ers got the football. After Gould missed a 52-yard field goal, the 49ers scored on a 91 yard drive which got capped off by a 79-yard touchdown reception by Deebo Samuel. The lead was no 38-10.
Goff and the Lions didn’t back down from the 28 point lead. Swift scored on a 43-yard touchdown reception. Both teams then traded punts, before Gould made a 52-yard field goal with a little under 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
A 41-17 lead seemed safe and a time where Kyle Shanahan might choose to pull certain starters due to their injury history. That didn’t happen and the 49ers lost cornerback Jason Verrett to a significant knee injury. Early reports are indicating it is a torn ACL.
After a turnover on downs it seemed that the victory was well in hand. Yet, the 49ers didn’t use much clock and punted. The Lions marched down the field with Williams capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. The two point conversion was then successful.
Detroit recovered the onside kick and in only 45 seconds scored another touchdown. This time to Quintez Cephus and like before the two point conversion succeeded. A 41-17 lead was now only 41-33 for the 49ers.
Fred Warner ended up recovering the kickoff. San Francisco deemed poised to run the clock out after a 16-yard completion to Samuel, yet he fumbled the football. Which gave Goff and the Lions once more shot at tying the game up. Amon-Ra St. Brown came up with a 20 yard reception and Khalif Raymond came up with a 25 yard reception.
Still the Lions were 24 yards away from a touchdown, San Francisco once again forced a turnover on downs and sealed the win for the 49ers.
Goff finished 38 for 57 for 338 yards three touchdowns and one interception. Williams carried the ball nine times for 54 yards. He also caught eight passes for 56 yards. Hockenson caught eight passes for 97 yards and Swift caught eight passes also and his went for 65 yards.
Garoppolo finished completing 17 of 25 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell carried the ball 19 times for 104 yards. Samuel finished with a game-high nine repepetions and 189 yards. Kittle finished with 78 yards on four catches. Sherfield was the only other 49er player to catch more than one pass and he finished with two receptions.