Jimmy Garoppolo was sharp, San Francisco's running game was efficient and the defense delivered another dominating performance.
The opener of a two-game East Coast swing for the 49ers looked good on the scoreboard with a 37-15 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday but proved costly on the injury report.
The Niners (3-2) lost starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to a season-ending knee injury, safety Jimmie Ward to a broken hand, star edge rusher Nick Bosa to an injured groin and kicker Robbie Gould to a bruised knee.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said the team would know more about how long Ward will be out after he has surgery this week.
Bosa and Gould will test out their injuries this week to see if they can avoid missing time, but the Niners will bring in kickers for tryouts just in case.
They join a long list of injuries to key players that also includes quarterback Trey Lance, left tackle Trent Williams, running backs Elijah Mitchell and Ty Davis-Price, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair and defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw.
“I think it happens to other teams too. I don’t want to say we’re the only ones,” Shanahan said. "It’s a challenge when it happens. You hope to have better luck."
This is not a new development for the Niners, who have gotten used to having to endure a long list of injuries each season.
Their 2018 and 2020 seasons were derailed by injuries but they overcame several key ones in 2019 on the way to a Super Bowl appearance and last season when they went to the NFC title game.
“I mean we wished obviously that that wasn’t the case. You don’t want to be familiar with dealing with big losses,” linebacker Fred Warner said. "But we understand the game that we play. Violent game and as much as it is easy to say next man up it is not like we aren’t thinking about those guys and missing them. But we are going to find a way to get through it and continue to play at a high level."
Third-down offense. The Niners converted 7 of 12 first down tries thanks mostly to a strong performance from Garoppolo. He completed 8 of 9 passes on third down for 118 yards and a 4-yard touchdown pass t o Deebo Samuel.
Garoppolo's completions led to all seven conversions, tied for the second most third-down conversion passes by a Niners QB in the past 20 seasons. Only Garoppolo's nine conversions in a win at Arizona in 2019 had more.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Special teams. Gould missed his league-high third field goal from inside 45 yards when he had a 43-yarder blocked in the second quarter. The Niners then allowed two long kickoff returns in the third quarter with a 45-yarder and a 48-yarder that set up two scores by Carolina. Gould injured his knee making a tackle on the second return.
RB Tevin Coleman returned to the Niners earlier this season after playing last season with the Jets and got his first action Sunday. He made a big impact with a 9-yard TD catch on the opening drive, a 30-yard reception on a deep pass that set up a field goal and a 5-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Coleman gained 67 yards from scrimmage and had his first TDs since the 2019 season.
“I showed that I still have it,” he said. “It was definitely fun out there to play with this team.”
Samuel as running back. After rushing for 105 yards the first two weeks, Samuel has been quiet as a runner. He had two carries for 12 yards on Sunday and has just 20 yards rushing total over the past three games.
Two other injuries from the game weren't serious with CB Deommodore Lenoir (wrist) and RB Jeff Wilson Jr. (bruised shoulder) not expected to miss any time.
6. The Niners followed up a seven-sack performance last week against the Rams with six more on Sunday. It marked the first time since the first two weeks of the 1985 season that San Francisco had back-to-back games with at least six sacks. The 21 sacks on the season are the most through five games for the Niners since they had 22 in 1998.
The 49ers will spend the week practicing in West Virginia before finishing their road trip at Atlanta on Sunday.
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