3 Takeaways From Week 2 Against the Seahawks
Week 2’s home opener against the Seattle Seahawks had a mixed bag of results.
On the one hand, the 49ers got their first win of the season, cruising to a 27-7 victory over their divisional rivals. On the other hand, Sunday was a somber day in Santa Clara after quarterback Trey Lance suffered a broken ankle in the first quarter, ending his season before it really even started.
“It’s tough, you feel for someone so bad,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said postgame. “It’s a very sad moment but you don’t have time to sit there and think about it, you gotta get right back to the game. And I thought that the guys did a real good job with that…but it was a little somber once you got in the locker room and you see him.”
Lance had successful surgery Monday to repair a fibula fracture and ligament disruption, according to the team.
The 49ers will now have to carry on the rest of the season with former starter Jimmy Garoppolo under center.
Amidst the darkness of Sunday’s gloomy forecast, there were some bright spots for the Red & Gold that could be a sign of more things to come in 2022.
This Defense Can Carry the 49ers
“Defense wins championships” is the old cliche. But for the 49ers, that couldn’t be more true.
Sunday’s contest showcased defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryan’s stout unit once again, holding the Seahawks to under 30 yards total in the first quarter. The defense would have pitched a shutout performance if not for a botched field goal that was returned for a touchdown by Seattle’s special teams. All in all, a pretty good day for a matchup the has historically favored the Blue & Green.
The impressive play started on the backend with second-year safety Talanoa Hufanga flying all over the field Sunday afternoon.
Coming off an impressive 11-tackle day in Week 1, the USC product was a dominate force in the home opener, registering six tackles and two pass breakups against the Seahawks.
.@49ers @TalanoaHufanga how XXXiting is he to watch . Get your Xmas orders in early to grab his jersey. Going to become your favorite player real soon. Plays with some nasty FANGS! Baldy ❤️ Hufanga. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/qoqVPToOt5
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 20, 2022
Hufanga has totaled 17 tackles, three TFLs, three PBUs, and one INT through two games this season.
It goes beyond the numbers though for “Huf”, possessing incredible instincts that are reminiscent of his idol, Troy Polamalu. He has a nose for the ball, whether that be coming off the edge at the ball carrier, or in coverage against a tight end or slot receiver.
His coverage skills served him well in this one, coming up with a huge tipped pass against Tyler Lockett, hitting the ball into the hands of Tashuan Gipson Sr. for the pick.
Both safeties were ranked in PFF’s top-five to start the season, an indication of the team’s depth even with Jimmie Ward on IR.
PFF’s 5 top-graded safeties in the NFL to start this 2022 season…
1. Minkah Fitzpatrick
2. Talanoa Hufanga, 49ers
3. Mike Edwards
4. Jamal Adams
5. Tashaun Gipson Sr., 49ers
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) September 20, 2022
The other standout was none other than defensive end Nick Bosa.
A man on a mission this season, Bosa racked up two sacks and seven pressures on Geno Smith Sunday, SEVEN!
Nick Bosa is currently on pace for 25.5 sacks and 85 pressures
Bosa had 7 pressures and 2 sacks in yesterday’s win over Seattle
— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 19, 2022
Nothing is surprising when it comes to the production of this guy, but combine that with the other D-linemen (Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Drake Jackson) and all of the secondary help, this team is a force to be reckoned with.
Young offensive line starting to make progress
The interior offensive line of the 49ers has been an issue ever since Laken Tomlinson left the team in free agency. Well after two games, some of those worries should be eased by the play of Aaron Banks and rookie Spencer Burford.
Their play in the run game is what caught the eye of Shanahan and the coaching staff initially, but it’s the growth in pass protection that has truly made both shine through the first two games. Through 120 pass-blocking snaps, zero sacks or QB hits have been allowed by the young guard duo. Zero.
Yes they’ve played two lesser opponents in the Seahawks and Chicago Bears, but the growth is very apparent, especially after producing lackluster performances during the preseason.
Here’s how guards Spencer Burford and Aaron Banks have done so far in pass protection this season:
• 120 pass blocking snaps (combined)
• 0 sacks allowed
• 0 QB hits
• 3 pressures pic.twitter.com/0VbNfGUMvP
— Coach Yac 🗣 (@Coach_Yac) September 20, 2022
Banks’ play was so good that he was the highest-graded lineman for the 49ers in Week 2, scoring a 81.8 pass-blocking rating.
Highest-graded 49ers offensive player vs. Seattle, per PFF: Aaron Banks.
81.8 pass-blocking score. Only 1 pressure allowed. He mauled in the run game, especially near the goal line. Just a massively positive development for the 49ers
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) September 19, 2022
Both players are still new to the NFL and will make mistakes this season, but the 49ers may have found their guard pairing of the future with these two.
Next man up in the backfield
Sunday’s win also came with a few more casualties after Lance, with rookie RB Ty Davis-Price suffering a high ankle sprain that will sideline him for a few weeks.
Already down Elijah Mitchell (MCL sprain), the 49ers now have a thin backfield of Jeff Wilson Jr., rookie Jordan Mason and veteran Marlon Mack. Shanahan has shown an ability to scrap together a run game with complementary parts in years past, looking to get almost every member of the offense involved in the action.
Take WR Deebo Samuel for example, he ended Sunday with four carries for 53 yards.
— KP (@KP_Show) September 20, 2022
Don’t get it twisted however, as backup Jeff Wilson Jr. will still lead the way for the 49ers, getting the bulk of the carries in Week 2 at home. Wilson had a mean streak about him from the jump, mustering up 84 yards on 4.7 per carry to impress Shanahan and the coaching staff further.
18 carries for 84 yards for Jeff Wilson today — 4.7 per pop — seemed 100% back from the meniscus tear for the first time. Turns out that running in the lake last week wasn't a fair showcase opportunity for Wilson
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) September 19, 2022
“Jeff was a stud,” the head coach raved Monday. “You could just see how hard he was running and what Jeff does when he doesn’t have the ball is really good too. He helps us out in a ton of ways.”
Once an undrafted rookie, Jordan Mason now finds himself in a prominent role for the foreseeable future: A timeshare in Kyle Shanahan’s ever-evolving run attack.
The rookie has only featured in special teams in the first two games, but don’t be surprised to see No.24 in the backfield Sunday night in Denver.
“I thought JP [Jordan Mason] had his best special teams game, did a real good job on special teams,” Shanahan said. “So JP didn’t get in there on offense but he’ll have to be ready this week now.”
The head coach also noted Monday that the team will look to bring in reinforcements to the position this week. Marlon Mack will also be elevated for Week 3 against the Denver Broncos but expect to see Mason make his offensive debut Sunday night.