Wednesday, September 21, 2022

49ers “worst case scenario” among the top 10 reactions from week 2

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It’s hard to imagine that GM John Lynch, head coach Kyle Shanahan, and the San Francisco 49ers could envision this worst-case scenario.

Two weeks into the season and three weeks after the organization revised Jimmy Garoppolo’s deal to keep him in the Bay Area in 2022, sophomore quarterback Trey Lance suffered a devastating fractured ankle that required surgery and ended his season, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

For Lance, Sunday September 18 marked a tragic turning point in his career.

Now there will be a gap of at least three years between Lance’s last full college football season in 2019 and his first potential full season as an NFL starter in 2023.

Just 12:40 into Lance’s second game of the season, the 2021 No. 3 draft pick was carted off the field when his ankle was pinched under Seattle Seahawks linebacker Cody Barton and defensive tackle Bryan Mone.

The injury is a brutal reminder of how quickly the trajectory of an NFL career can change, as well as how important a quarterback’s quality is to a team’s success.

Garoppolo, who is two years away from leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl spot and nine months away from a run to the NFC Championship Game, is returning to his role as a starter. The 30-year veteran with a 34-14 regular season record is providing stability for San Francisco. Just as he did in the chaos of Sunday.

Against division rivals the Seahawks, Garoppolo finished 13-of-21 passing for 154 yards with a touchdown, scoring another win and walking away 27-7.

Dubbed by multiple league sources as a “win-win” reunion between a seasoned quarterback and a team with a full roster, Garoppolo will now be crucial to San Francisco’s championship ambitions in 2022. And maybe beyond.

Here are 10 takeaways from Sunday’s Week 2 action in the NFL.

Micah Parsons has all the attributes of a generation defender.

On Sunday afternoon against the Cincinnati Bengals, Parsons looked like the front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He could revive the Dallas Cowboys’ season.

Equally dominant and disruptive as a middle linebacker as he plays his natural position and rushes the passer off the ledge, the sophomore linebacker seemed involved in every single big game in a 20-17 win over the Cowboys reigning AFC champions.

“[Parsons] is by far the most elite player we’ve seen at Penn State,” an NFC human resources director told Heavy. “And he’s getting better every week.”

Parsons is now on the pace for 34.0 sacks after coming in at Burrow twice in Week 2. He also produced 4 total tackles as the heartbeat of the Cowboys defense Sunday afternoon.

So what sets Parsons apart, what makes him a sleepless player offense coordinator, and who gives quarterbacks nightmares?

“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got elite speed for the position,” an NFC scout told Heavy. “And perhaps most importantly, it has a relentlessly high engine.”

Still, Parsons and his defensive teammates left Burrows Bengals late in the game before slamming the door on Cincinnati’s final drive.

With the Bengals trailing 17-9 and the offense showing few signs of life after allowing their franchise quarterback to be sacked 4.0 times in the first half, Burrow orchestrated the kind of drive that underscores why he was called is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

At their own 17-yard line, the Bengals offense, led by Burrow, methodically took over the field for the longest Cincinnati scoring drive since 2001. Burrow’s offense was 19 plays for 78 yards, capped by a 5-yard touchdown Hit Tee Higgins and a 2-point conversion to Tyler Boyd. After being declared dead, the Bengals and Cowboys were suddenly at 17.

Cooper Rush and the Cowboys offense set up kicker Brett Maher for the game-winning 50-yard field goal that kept Dallas’ season afloat and put the now-0-2 Bengals on life support. 20-17 ball game. Hope stays in Dallas.

If the Cowboys are to survive without Dak Prescott and compete in the NFC East, Parsons and the defense will likely need to lead.

Garrett Wilson announced his presence as the New York Jets franchise cornerstone in Week 2.

It might have taken a minute, but Wilson flashed every bit of his first-round pedigree in Cleveland’s first quarter on Sunday against the Browns.

The Jets’ rookie receiver, who was playing 140 miles from Columbus, Ohio, where he was the focus of the Buckeyes’ prolific offense, had his coming-out party.

With just 23 seconds remaining, Wilson sped through the middle of the field on a seam stretch, getting behind the entire secondary and scoring a 15-yard touchdown from Joe Flacco, his second of the game. Jets 31, Browns 30, game’s as good as over.

Wilson’s game winner might not even be the most impressive play from his outstanding second NFL game.

Taking on cornerback Matin Emerson, Wilson broke Emerson’s ankle near the goal line to break up and pull down his first career touchdown pass from Joe Flacco, who tapped into the end zone corner.

“He’s an absolute stallion,” said an NFC appraiser to Heavy on Sunday via text message. “Because of performances like that, he’s been so high up on the boards throughout the league.”

Wilson finished the game with 8 catches for a terrific 109 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Jets’ victory over Cleveland, which has a chance to change Jets history and the start of something special for Wilson.

“Somehow they didn’t put him on the field until offensive Snap Week 1 14,” an AFC exec told Heavy. “I doubt they’ll make that mistake again.”

Fueled by the arrival of quarterback Matt Ryan, expectations were high in Indianapolis at the start of the season. Some within the league even proclaimed the Colts as the team to beat in the AFC South.

So what sets Parsons apart, what makes him a sleepless player offense coordinator, and who gives quarterbacks nightmares?

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