The San Francisco 49ers dropped their preseason opener 10-6 to the Denver Broncos, but of course, the score really doesn't matter. This is about who helped their stock and who hurt their stock in the battle for roster spots. And we even got a few random plays to amuse us throughout the game.
The most pertinent news from any preseason game is the injury report. Thursday's game saw Colt McCoy (shoulder), Raymond Ventrone (hamstring) and Nick Moody (knee) all leave the game with injuries. McCoy had his pads on a bit later in the game, so the shoulder injury would seem to not be serious. Moody looked to be in some pain when someone landed on his leg. He was helped off the field, favoring his left leg. Hopefully we hear more in the next 24 hours.
We'll have plenty more breaking down the various players who saw their stock rise and fall, but I thought I'd take a preliminary look at some of the good and bad performances. It's only one preseason game, but I think we can start to draw some conclusions. Those could very well change in the coming weeks, but I think there are a few players that stood out for one reason or another.
Colin Kaepernick: The 49ers starting QB looked strong in his one series. He was 4 of 4 for 38 yards, and rushed for six yards. The 49ers only managed a field goal on the drive, but the starting offense looked strong. And considering the running game did not have Frank Gore or Kendall Hunter, I can live with that. Kap connected twice with Anquan Boldin, and once each with Vernon Davis and Marlon Moore. He showed the legs, he showed some touch. The only thing we didn't see was the rocket arm.
Corey Lemonier: The 49ers rookie outside linebacker showed some great things as a pass rusher. He showed some moves, and he showed pure speed as he repeatedly forced Brock Osweiler out of the pocket. He struggled a bit against the run, unable to set the edge at times, but I suspect his role will be almost exclusively as a pass rusher this season.
Ian Williams: The big man in the middle looked STRONG all night long. He helped collapse the pocket on multiple occasions, helping Dan Skuta get a sack on one occasion. He showed things both as a nose tackle and an interior defensive tackle in the four-man front. He is impressing, big time.
Kassim Osgood: Although he has done little as a receiver during his lengthy career, his special teams work has always been strong. He made some solid catches today, but also showed what he could do in the coverage units. The 49ers have numerous players that could be worthy of an exclusively special teams role, and Osgood threw his hat in the ring.
Perrish Cox: It was a great day for Cox, as he performed well as a returner and as a cover man. He returned a kick 33 yards, he returned a punt 15 yards, and he had several plays where we saw him provide excellent coverage. He's looking in good shape for a roster spot after one game.
The Question marks
A.J. Jenkins: We were all hoping for something positive from Jenkins, and much like Charlie Brown when he goes to kick the football, it was pulled out from under us. Jenkins caught a pass and turned up field, but after 11 yards, it was stripped away from behind. From some of the reports coming out of the press box, Jenkins was showing some good things elsewhere in his route running. But if he is not converting this stuff, it's a struggle at times.
Second string offense: I was going to call this section "The Bad" instead of "The Questions Marks", but the second string offensive line struggled mightily to provide a chance for plays to develop. Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien struggled to impress, but even still, there were several instances where the pocket collapsed quickly.
Scott Tolzien: We saw a whole lot of everything from Tolzien. We saw some awful decision making, and we saw his strong arm. We saw him maneuver around in the pocket, and we saw him take some bad sacks. Simply put, it was an inconsistent performance from Tolzien. And with McCoy suffering the shoulder injury after struggling himself, the backup QB competition remains a bit of a mess.
Backup inside linebacker: The 49ers are looking for someone to replace Larry Grant, with Michael Wilhoite, Nate Stupar and Nick Moody competing for the role. Wilhoite is getting starting snaps, but with Moody getting hurt, neither Wilhoite nor Stupar showed a lot on Thursday. Stupar in particularly struggled to wrap up on his tackles, and saw several breaking by the Broncos offense. Stupar needs to show up strong next week, or it could be a quick departure for him.
The Great Brit!
Lawrence Okoye gets his own section, and will get further breakdown later. He came on for at least two snaps, making his professional football debut. On his first play, the Broncos doubled him and easily pushed him back. On the second play, the offensive lineman got push on him, but Dan Skuta got a sack as the quarterback rolled out. Nothing big, but it's cool to see him on the field.
The 49ers travel to Kansas City a week from Friday to face the Kansas City Chiefs. We'll look to see if Corey Lemonier can build on this week's performance. We hope to see B.J. Daniels get into the game. We hope A.J. Jenkins can do some positive things. And we hope for some clarification about the backup quarterback battle.
We'll have plenty more breakdown in the coming days!