Injuries, late collapse push 49ers down USA TODAY power rankings

By Kyle Madson

The 49ers were on cruise control in the third quarter of their Week 1 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Then the wheels came off and San Francisco wound up needing to fend off a furious comeback by the home team where they racked up 16 points inside the two-minute warning.

Those last two minutes, combined with injuries to cornerback Jason Verrett and running back Raheem Mostert, were enough to dip the 49ers outside the top 10 in the USA TODAY power rankings to No. 11.

Via USA TODAY’s Nate Davis:

Are they the team that led Detroit 38-10 through 2½ quarters, or the one that held on for a 41-33 win … and is already dealing with another rash of injuries after losing CB Jason Verrett to a torn ACL while hoping RB Raheem Mostert (knee) can return by midseason?

Logically it would track that the 49ers are more likely the team that led 41-17 with two minutes to play. They took out their starters for the series where the Lions made it 41-25, then a bad bounce on an onside kick allowed Detroit to recover. Then after they had momentum and scored again, 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel fumbled away the game-sealing first down and gave the Lions one last opportunity to get in the end zone.

Putting the end-of-game shenanigans aside, the injuries are a real concern that could derail the 49ers early.

Their three remaining running backs have a grand total of 10 games of NFL experience. Their cornerback depth was a huge problem going into the year as well, and Verrett’s injury is forcing them to dig deeper into the depth chart than they might’ve wanted.

San Francisco has a few big tests coming that’ll likely define their season. They’ll visit the Eagles in Week 2, host the Packers in Week 3, host the Seahawks in Week 4 and visit the Cardinals in Week 5. Save for Green Bay’s 38-3 disaster vs the Saints, every other team on that list was dominant in Week 1.

While there were aspects of the 49ers’ opener that made them look the part of a top-five team, how they respond to the losses of Verrett and Mitchell will ultimately define whether they stay in the upper echelon of NFL teams or slip further from the No. 9 spot they started the season in.


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