SANTA CLARA – On Aug. 28, the 49ers acquired slot receiver Jeremy Kerley out of desperation to fill the role the team had envisioned for Bruce Ellington.
The team had just learned Ellington would require season-ending surgery to repair a torn hamstring. The 49ers struck a deal with the Detroit Lions, sending in return guard Brandon Thomas, who had never stepped onto the field for a regular season game since the 49ers selected him in the third round of the 2014 draft.
On Monday night, Kerley was targeted 11 times and had team-leading totals of seven receptions for 61 yards, including a diving 18-yard reception on a fourth-down play in the second quarter that led to the 49ers' second touchdown. Kerley played 54 snaps -- or 66 percent of the team's offensive plays -- in the 49ers' season-opening 28-0 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
"I knew what I was walking into a little bit, so I expected to get in where I fit in," said Kerley, who also returned two punts for 11 yards and made seven fair catches. "I made the plays I was asked to make to get this team an opportunity to put up a victory."
Things have been moving at such a warp speed for Kerley, he could barely even recall his biggest reception of the night -- his catch on a fourth-and-6 play from the Rams' 39-yard line.
"I don't really remember," he said. "I think I've done pretty good with the intake of the playbook, but the game is going so fast. You're not recalling what just happened."
Coach Chip Kelly said he expected Kerley to have a big role because of what he has shown in the short time since his arrival.
"Day one when he got here he just kind of kept showing up and you kind of say to yourself, I thought he was pretty good, and then, ‘Is it too good to be true?'" Kelly said. "Obviously, losing Bruce Ellington like that and knowing that Bruce is out for the year, I'll give our personnel department credit for going out and finding a guy like that that to step in seamlessly."
It has not taken quarterback Blaine Gabbert long to put his trust in the reliable, veteran pass-catcher. Kerley entered the season with 182 receptions for 2,225 yards and nine touchdowns in his five previous NFL seasons, all with the New York Jets.
"Yeah, it's been like a week and we've just tried to catch him up to speed as fast as possible," Gabbert said. "He's been in the league quite a few years and just the mindset that he approached every day in practice showed today.
"Coming in on such short notice, mastering this offense, knowing exactly where he needs to be to catch the ball. Coming out with quite a few catches tonight and some big third down conversions, it was a good thing to see and we're just going to continue to get better."
Here's how the 49ers divided their playing time on offense, defense and special teams:
81 -- LG Zane Beadles, RT Trent Brown
78 -- QB Blaine Gabbert, WR Torrey Smith, LT Joe Staley, C Daniel Kilgore
77 -- RG Andrew Tiller
71 -- WR Quinton Patton
57-- RB Carlos Hyde
54 -- WR Jeremy Kerley
51 -- TE Vance McDonald
46 -- TE Garrett Celek
21 -- RB Shaun Draughn
10 -- WR Rod Streater
9 -- TE Blake Bell
7 -- C Marcus Martin
3 -- QB Colin Kaepernick, RT Anthony Davis, WR Aaron Burbridge, RB Mike Davis
2 -- WR Chris Harper
61 -- CB Jimmie Ward, FS Eric Reid, CB Tramaine Brock, LB NaVorro Bowman, SS Antoine Bethea
51 -- DL DeForest Buckner
42 -- LB Ray-Ray Armstrong
40 -- LB Ahmad Brooks
35 -- LB Eli Harold, DL Arik Armstead
33 -- NT Mike Purcell
25 -- CB Rashard Robinson, DL Quinton Dial
23 -- LB Tank Carradine
19 -- LB Gerald Hodges
16 -- S Jaquiski Tartt
9 -- CB Dontae Johnson
7 -- DL Ronald Blair
6 -- DL Tony Jerod-Eddie
22 -- Marcus Cromartie, Nick Bellore, Michael Wilhoite, Tartt, Johnson
16 -- Bradley Pinion, Draughn
15 -- Ward, Hodges
13 -- Patton
12 -- Robinson
11 -- Kyle Nelson, Kerley
8 -- Armstrong
7 -- McDonald, Burbridge
6 -- Purcell
5 -- Celek, Buckner, Dial
4 -- Phil Dawson, Beadles, Brown, Staley, Tiller, A.Davis, Reid
1 -- Streater, Bell, Brock, Bowman, Brooks, Harold, Jerod-Eddie
QB Christian Ponder
CB Keith Reaser
CB Chris Davis
G Joshua Garnett
T John Theus
DL Glenn Dorsey
DL Taylor Hart