3 Takeaways from 49ers' Week 2 Win
It certainly felt like the San Francisco 49ers held on to Jimmy Garoppolo in order to have a potential in-season trade chip. They reworked his contract and kept him behind second-year signal-caller Trey Lance. In theory, Garoppolo would become an in-demand player if a team lost its starter before the trade deadline.
Little did the 49ers know that they would be the team to lose their starter. Lance suffered a broken ankle Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, and he'll have season-ending ankle surgery, according to ESPN's Nick Wagoner.
With Garoppolo back under center, the 49ers dominated the rival Seattle Seahawks. They looked nothing like the team that got embarrassed by the Chicago Bears in Week 1 and more like the squad that made last year's NFC title game.
One win doesn't make San Francisco a title contender, but it does have the 49ers back on the playoff track. Here's what we learned from Sunday's 27-7 victory over Seattle.
It's Back to Win-Now Mode for the 49ers
The 49ers had hoped to contend in 2022 while also developing Lance for the future. Losing the 2021 third overall pick puts a huge damper on the year's first victory.
"I'm really happy about the win, but it's a little somber once you get in the locker room," head coach Kyle Shanahan said, per Wagoner.
Garoppolo played well enough, going 13-of-21 for 154 yards and a touchdown. While he doesn't possess the dual-threat ability or the upside of Lance, he knows this offense, is comfortable with the roster and will help San Francisco win games this season.
However, Garoppolo is no longer the quarterback of the future, and the impending 2023 free agent will almost certainly be gone after the season. This means San Francisco's priorities for the 2022 season have officially shifted.
With no young starter to develop, if the 49ers can't go on a deep playoff run, this season will largely be viewed as a failure. The first task for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch is finding another veteran to fill out the quarterback room.
Garoppolo has had his own durability issues, and the only other quarterback on the roster is rookie Brock Purdy. Expect the 49ers to weigh their free-agent and trade options ahead of next week's game against the Denver Broncos.
Talanoa Hufanga Is Becoming a Star
While Garoppolo did his part to get the win, San Francisco's defense deserves most of the credit for the lopsided victory. It held Seattle to a mere 216 yards of total offense and a paltry 36 rushing yards.
Defenders like Nick Bosa and Fred Warner are no strangers to the spotlight, but the 49ers also have an emerging star in second-year safety Talanoa Hufanga.
Hufanga, a 2021 fifth-round pick out of USC, made just three starts as a rookie. Through two weeks this year, he's played like a potential Pro Bowl candidate. Hufanga was all over the field against the Bears last week, finishing with 11 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception.
Against Seattle, Hufanga was at it again. He tallied six tackles and two passes defended and was frequently near the action defensively. His tipped pass in the second quarter led to a Tashaun Gipson interception.
That makes two turnovers in two weeks in which Hufanga has had a hand. Along with Gipson and Charvarius Ward—each had a pick against Seattle—Hufanga gives San Francisco the perfect secondary complement to their potent pass rush. Expect to hear his name regularly in the coming weeks.
Deebo Samuel Remains a Dual-Threat Difference-Maker
There was some speculation in the offseason that wide receiver Deebo Samuel wasn't happy being regularly utilized as a running back in 2021. Samuel, though, disputed that notion.
It's clear that the 49ers plan to continue using Samuel as a dual-threat player moving forward. The 2021 first-team All-Pro had 52 rushing yards, 14 receiving yards and a touchdown in the opener. On Sunday, he added 53 rushing yards and 44 receiving yards to his 2022 totals.
Samuel's 53 rushing yards came on a mere four carries, and while he didn't have huge yardage numbers, Samuel did catch five of six targets.
The 49ers were not at full strength against Seattle, as Elijah Mitchell (knee) and star tight end George Kittle (groin) were both sidelined. However, the offense was still functional (373 total yards) because of players like Jeff Wilson Jr., Brandon Aiyuk and Samuel. Expect Samuel to remain a focal point of both the running and passing games regardless of who is under center.
Contract information via Spotrac.