The San Francisco 49ers rolled to victory against the New York Jets but left town with conflicting feelings after their lengthy injury list got even longer on the new artificial surface of MetLife Stadium.
Entering Sunday already without four key players, the Niners watched as defensive end Nick Bosa, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas all suffered game-ending lower body injuries.
Of most pressing concern was what coach Kyle Shanahan said was "most likely" a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Bosa's left knee. Shanahan indicated that Garoppolo suffered a high right ankle sprain and Mostert and Coleman departed with knee injuries. Shanahan said Thomas could have a torn ACL similar to Bosa's but "has a better chance of it not being that [than Bosa], from what I'm told."
A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Mostert has a "mild" MCL sprain and how much time he misses will depend on what an upcoming MRI reveals.
All of that put a damper on a relatively easy 31-13 victory that evened San Francisco's record at 1-1 on the season.
"Some key players with some bad injuries, which makes it always a little bit harder," Shanahan said. "I thought it was a real good game by the team. But you've got a little bit of mixed emotions when you lose some guys like that."
With 6:45 left in the first quarter, Bosa was engaged with Jets tight end Trevon Wesco on a running play when his left leg buckled as he attempted to get off the block and tackle running back Frank Gore.
Bosa briefly attempted to sit up before medical personnel rushed to the field to check on him. A cart came out soon after and took him to the locker room. The Niners declared him out for the game early in the second quarter.
Without Bosa, the Niners turned to veteran Kerry Hyder Jr. to fill the void, and they'll likely need to find edge rushing reinforcements this week as end Dee Ford missed Sunday's game with neck spasms.
"It's heartbreaking," left tackle Trent Williams said. "Nick is a cornerstone of this team. He's part of the nucleus. Not only that, he's a shining star on the field. He has a bright future ahead of him. So it sucks, man."
Garoppolo's situation is a bit murkier. His injury happened on the Niners' fourth offensive play from scrimmage, when he was sacked by Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and went to the ground awkwardly. He finished the half and went 14-of-16 for 131 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 140.4. Halftime X-rays revealed a high ankle sprain and Garoppolo did not return to the game, with Nick Mullens taking over on San Francisco's first drive of the second half.
Shanahan said whether Garoppolo misses time will depend on how the week goes, though he expects Garoppolo to feel worse before he gets better.
"We'll see how that heals," Shanahan said. "You've got to get on a plane tonight, he'll wake up tomorrow, it will probably feel much worse, but that's something you really won't be able to tell whether he has a chance or not probably until the end of the week."
The five 49ers who didn't finish the game joined tight end George Kittle (knee sprain), cornerback Richard Sherman (strained calf), receiver Deebo Samuel (foot) and Ford on the list of injured 49ers. Kittle, Sherman, Samuel and Ford did not play Sunday, and Sherman and Samuel are on injured reserve.
After the game, the 49ers expressed concern about the playing surface at MetLife Stadium. New FieldTurf was installed in the stadium this summer, and it had only been played on previously in Jets and Giants scrimmages, as well as the Giants' season opener last week.
Multiple 49ers complained of how "sticky" the playing surface was and took to Twitter and their Zoom media sessions to vent their frustration after the game. While Shanahan acknowledged it was hard to draw a direct correlation between the injuries and the playing surface, he did say it was something his team talked about throughout the game.
"I know that's as many knee injuries and ankle stuff and people getting caught on the turf as I have ever been a part of," Shanahan said. "From what I saw, the other team did, too. I know our players talked about it the entire game, just how sticky the turf was. ... It was something our guys were concerned about right away and the results definitely made that a lot stronger."
What's more, the 49ers must play on the MetLife field again next week. They will spend the week at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, before returning for a Week 3 contest against the Giants.
"[It brings] a lot of anxiety," defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. "We see guys you love go down and get hurt and we've got to come back here and play again on the same surface, and that's anxiety-provoking, to see that happen and know you have to do it again."