No. 3: Kyle Shanahan, 49ers won’t be able to preserve leads
Remember, 41-17 in the fourth quarter. And we won’t go back to Super Bowl LIV. Nope. Not at all.
But certainly some fans were recalling how Kyle Shanahan has seen solid leads fall apart in meaningful games over the years. While Week 1 wasn’t necessarily a meaningful game, by that comparison, it certainly was a bout the 49ers needed to win by a sizable margin.
Against a better team, perhaps the Niners don’t hold onto that big lead they generated over the first three-plus quarters.
Maybe this is a concern. Both for Shanahan and first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who saw his defensive momentum collapse completely in the wake of cornerback Jason Verrett’s serious knee injury late in the game.
Related Story: 49ers fear Jason Verrett suffered torn ACL vs. Lions
That tested San Francisco’s depth, and more on that later. But there were two fluke plays that essentially allowed the Lions to get back in the game: tight end George Kittle having an onside-kick attempt bounce off his facemask and into Detroit’s hands, followed by Deebo Samuel fumbling a first-down catch that would have ended the game had it not happened.
The chances of those two plays happening in relatively quick succession is rare, so perhaps it’s not a time to panic.
If anything, it shows how the minor details of any game could ultimately prove to be the difference.