By Mychael Urban
Special to The Examiner
Is your glass half-empty? Niners fans might be thinking about another late lead nearly squandered, turning a perfectly pleasant Sunday into disaster.
Instead? 49ers 17, Eagles 11. The 49ers didn’t look great in Week 2, but it’s time for a new glass. One that’s not merely half-full, but flowing over.
Focus on the squad opening its season with back-to-back victories in the Eastern time zone. Let’s celebrate a team that has already suffered some serious injuries but keeps chugging, embracing the motto, “Next man up.”
Staying unbeaten back east, under difficult conditions in Detroit and Philly, had to make that flight back to San Francisco a fun ride.
Here’s what we learned in the process:
Adversity? What adversity?
Whether you’re 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2 in the NFL, you’re going to hear some version of, “It’s early.”
It’s a versatile little saying. Depending on the context, it could be taken as incredibly insulting, highly complimentary, or with the proverbial grain of salt.
As it relates to the Niners, it being “early” should serve as motivation for the players and optimism among their fans.
Look at all that went wrong in Detroit and Philly. It was a Murphy’s Law kind of road trip, with injuries, blown assignments, episodes of offensive ineptitude and such all surfacing at various times.
Yet for every con, there were a couple of pros.
For instance, Raheem Mostert is a heck of a player. He got hurt early against Detroit, and the Niners will miss him while he mends. But Elijah Mitchell ripped off a C-note after subbing in against the Lions, and what’s clearly a pretty well-stocked cupboard of capable but fairly anonymous backs calls to mind Mike Shanahan’s Broncos, who seemed to come up with a different 1,000-plus-yards running back every season.
“You know, with Raheem [hurting] it really sucks. It does. There’s no way around it,” offered Garoppolo. “It’s one of those tough breaks; we’re going to miss him. But the young guys, like Elijah and [JaMycal] Hasty, they’ve shown they’re always ready to roll. And then we’ll bring [RB] Trey [Sermon] along, get him ready. I mean, they’re a good group. They really are. They complement each other really well. It’s a little bit of different tastes with each one of them; they each have their own style of doing it. But it’s all effective. And I think with the O-Line we’ve got, tight ends, fullbacks, even receivers blocking … It makes for a good group.”
Bottom line: When Shanahan’s in his play-calling “zone,” with X’s, O’s, route trees and insanely convoluted plays dialed up on cocktail napkins swirling around his head like a scene out of “A Beautiful Mind,” it’s pretty obvious: Kyle has it like that, too.
It’s the system, not the back. Saul Goode!
Bosa’s impact on ‘backers
When he’s healthy, there really isn’t a better defensive lineman in the NFL than Nick Bosa. He’s just a freak, no two ways about it. And while the Niners have in recent years become the pro equivalent to “Linebacker U,” let’s not forget how pivotal a defensive line can be for the ‘Backers.
Not that Fred Warner isn’t a bad man, but his job is infinitely easier when Bosa and crew are wreaking havoc in front of them.
Trey looks good as a backup
After stealing the show from the ever-gracious Jimmy G by throwing a TD on his first official pass as a pro in Detroit, Trey Lance appeared poised to step into a legitimately defined role and fan the flames of the Niners’ silly QB competition.
He didn’t play in Philly.
Anyone out there still thinking Trey will be the starter before the year is out: Only if Jimmy G gets hurt. If he doesn’t, he’s starting. Case closed.
Bending without breaking
Remember when Jason Verrett went down in Detroit? And how it was going to ruin the Niners’ defense?
Next. Man. Up.
Yeah, it’s trite. But who cares? It works.
Glass half-empty? Lighten up. This is supposed to be fun.
And right now, it is!
Mychael Urban is a freelance writer for The Examiner.