The 49ers will head home from their first road trip of the year with a 1-0 record.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 314 yards, rookie Elijah Mitchell ran for 102 yards, and it looked like the 49ers were going to roll to a blowout victory well into the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game in Detroit. They were up 41-17, but the Lions weren’t ready to quit.
Jamaal Williams scored a touchdown just after the two-minute warning and Jason Cabinda recovered an onside kick after it caromed off George Kittle. Jared Goff found Quintez Cephus for another touchdown and then hit him for a two-point conversion that cut the 49ers’ lead to 41-33.
They were able to recover the next onside kick and looked like they’d run the clock out when Deebo Samuel fumbled while running for a first down. The Lions recovered, Goff hit a couple of long completions and the Lions moved the ball inside the 49ers’ 25-yard-line with 32 seconds to play. The magic ran out with a series of incompletions and the 49ers held on for a 41-33 win.
Garoppolo’s day started badly as his first snap from center Alex Mack resulted in a lost fumble, but it was all positive from there. He had 136 yards at halftime and put the game away with a 79-yard touchdown to Deebo Samuel in the third quarter.
While Garoppolo played well, the 49ers still found time for Trey Lance to get some snaps. He threw a five-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield for the first Niners touchdown and ran the ball three times for two yards. The limited playing time left Mitchell as the most impressive rookie of the day.
Trey Sermon was expected to be the first rookie to get a look at running back, but he was inactive on Sunday and Mitchell got extended run after Raheem Mostert hurt his knee. The sixth-rounder ran 17 times and scored a touchdown in an outing that should earn him more work.
Jared Goff was able to lead drives into 49ers territory the first three times the Lions had the ball, but they only got seven points out of those possessions and didn’t get back into the end zone until an impressive D'Andre Swift catch-and-run late in the third quarter. Goff was pressured often and linebacker Dre Greenlaw returned his lone interception of the day for a touchdown.
Nick Bosa had a sack, two quarterback hits, and three tackles for loss in his return from a torn ACL. Dee Ford also notched a sack as the 49ers showed what they’re capable of doing on defense with all hands on deck.
The final minutes also showed what’s capable of happening if a team takes its foot off the gas a little too early. They’ll try to keep that from happening against the Eagles next weekend while the Lions will try to put together a more complete performance at Lambeau Field next Monday night.