Two teams that got subpar play from their starting quarterbacks in Week 1 move forward without key personnel when the visiting San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets attempt to put losses behind them in an interconference matchup Sunday afternoon.
The 49ers (0-1) placed star cornerback Richard Sherman on three-game injured reserve this week following their 24-20 home loss to Arizona.
The Jets (0-1), meanwhile, lost top running back Le’Veon Bell to a hamstring injury in their opening 27-17 setback at Buffalo.
Both quarterbacks struggled in their season debut.
Playing without injured wideouts Deebo Samuels and Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo completed 19 of 33 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Garoppolo suffered a setback when standout tight end George Kittle sprained his knee late in the second quarter. He returned to play the second half, but only as a decoy, failing to catch another pass.
Kittle is being held out of practice this week, although 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has left the door open for him to play Sunday.
“He’s battling,” Shanahan reported earlier this week. “He fully expects to be there Sunday, like he always does. Just like he always plays through the game when it happens. Kittle is one guy that if he’s ready to go on Sunday and the doctors say he’s good to go, we have no problem with him going without practicing.”
With Aiyuk a possibility to make his NFL debut but Samuels still out (he’s on three-week IR), the 49ers added to their wideout crew with the signing of free agent Muhammad Sanu this week.
Cut in training camp by the New England Patriots, Sanu is expected to play against the Jets.
The 49ers have won 10 of 13 all-time meetings with the Jets, but New York prevailed in the most recent head-to-head, 23-17 in overtime on the road in 2016. Colin Kaepernick was the San Francisco starting quarterback that day.
The last time the 49ers visited the Meadowlands, they walked away with a 34-0 triumph in 2012, with Frank Gore helping lead the way with 64 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Gore will be on the other sideline this time around, having signed a one-year deal with the Jets in May.
The 37-year-old became New York’s primary back after Bell’s injury last week, rushing six times for a team-high 24 yards.
Jets coach Adam Gase was an offensive assistant with the 49ers in 2008 at a time when Gore was building franchise-record rushing numbers in San Francisco.
“Anybody who was there with him before will believe when I say this: He looks the same. It’s unreal to watch,” Gase gushed this week. “This is my third stint with him. He’s the same Frank. He shows up. Works hard. Practices hard. You can tell he just loves the game so much.”
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold could use all the help he can get this week, coming off a 21-for-35, 215-yard effort in Buffalo that included one touchdown and an interception.
Darnold’s favorite target in the opener, wideout Jamison Crowder, began the week with a hamstring issue that allowed only limited participation at practice on Wednesday. As with the 49ers and Kittle, the Jets hope to have him ready to go by Sunday.