San Francisco had their preseason opener against Minnesota on Friday. The 49ers came away with a victory in their Week 1 match-up where an array of fresh faced players were able to debut at Candlestick Park.
Even though it was simply an exhibition game, there were a lot of positive things to take away from the game. Some of San Francisco's new additions really reflected well of the team's front office, specifically General Manager Trent Baalke. Especially when it's the under-the-radar, low-risk, high-reward acquisitions that are stepping for the team immediately.
Several players who have received flack, criticism and scrutiny showed they can perform in this league. For a look at who 49ers faithful have to be excited about this coming season, please follow me after the jump.
Jacobs looked awfully sharp in his 49ers debut in the Week 1 preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Donning the new No. 45 and standing tall at 6'5", Jacobs was a presence when he stepped into the 49ers backfield. As expected, Jacobs stepped in situationally - he carried the ball four times, in which he achieved four first downs.
He tallied 31 yards and had a long break of 23 yards. Jacobs was decisive, ran north and south and was full go from the moment he received the handoff. His unveiling in red and gold was encouraging to say the least.
The 49ers new acquisition at cornerback was one of their low-risk, high-reward pick-ups this offseason. Perrish Cox, a former starter for the Denver Broncos, debuted with San Francisco Friday evening. Cox played 21 snaps against the Vikings and made an athletic late-game interception.
He lined up in three corner positions (LCB, RCB and Nickel), displaying his versatility and football IQ. If Cox lives up to his playing potential, the 49ers could have four starter-worthy cornerbacks in 2012, which could be a game-changer.
UDFA Mystery WR:
Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer and Brian Tyms should be the frontrunners for this, with Owusu and Palmer slightly edging out Tyms at this stage. With so much talent and competition at the position, the 49ers could very well add one of these receivers to their final 53-man roster.
Even with entrenched starters amongst the entire defensive line, the 49ers retained two undrafted free agents at the position in 2011 with Ian Williams and Demarcus Dobbs. Owusu had the best performance on Friday with 3 grabs for 35 yards (18-long), but the verdict on a UDFA WR is still in limbo. Palmer has received the most praise from training camp, while Tyms, 6'3", is more of the prototypical wide out with size.
There are three more preseason games to go, but it's becoming pretty clear that Jacobs and Cox will not only be on the 49ers in 2012 but also be game day contributors. San Francisco's next game is Saturday, August 18th against the Houston Texans. Hopefully the younger receivers can get a fair share of work and the leader in the competition can become clearer.
One thing is for sure, wins in the preseason is a good sign of team depth and competent management.
We shouldn't ignore the numbers generated by backups because the statistical performers will matter for the 49ers. Remember, in 2011, Aldon Smith and Kendall Hunter led the NFL preseason in sacks and rushing, respectively. A preseason performance by younger player is certainly indicative of potential during the regular season.