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The Quick Slant: Notes & Observations from 49ers vs. Broncos

Think fast! My brief notes and observations from Preseason Week 1 against the Denver Broncos.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos got the better of the San Francisco 49ers in the first game of preseason, but who really cares about the score, right?  There are plenty of things to talk about, good and bad, so let's get to it.  Here are my quick thoughts and observations for this morning.

  • It's not a surprise that LaMichael James got the majority of carries to start off the game.  On the opening drive, James received every carry with the exception of D.J. Harper and Bruce Miller who each got one carry apiece.  James showed the flash and quickness that we all saw late last year and looks to continue right where he left off.  Most of his carries were for significant yardage.  It should be interesting to see how the carries are split once Kendall Hunter is healthy.
  • Center Jonathan Goodwin was sidelined last week due to an undisclosed injury.  Whatever the issue may have been, Goodwin sat out of the first preseason game.  Offensive guard/center Daniel Kilgore enters his third year in the league and replaced Goodwin at center.
  • At least on the opening drive with Colin Kaepernick at the helm, the tempo was noticeably faster.  We all remember the enormous blunder on the final drive of the Super Bowl when the snap came a second too late on a hand-off to Frank Gore.  You better believe efficient clock management was a focal point this past offseason.  Obviously, this is Week 1 of the preseason, far, so good.
  • A.J. Jenkins made one reception of the game, and then...wait for it...fumbled it away to the Broncos.  Still too soon for the panic button?
  • Anquan Boldin looks damn good in red and gold.  With two receptions for 14 yards, Boldin was the only wideout with any receptions on the opening drive.  With Michael Crabtree out for the foreseeable future, it's a huge relief to see that Boldin and Kap have already developed some chemistry.
  • Somebody forgot to tell Kaepernick it was preseason.  On the opening drive, Kap seemed determined to keep the chains moving and made a dazzling run for a first down.  Kaepernick also displayed some beautiful improvisation when Von Miller cut inside past right tackle Anthony Davis.  Kap was forced to make a run to the right and slung the ball right into the outstretched hands of Marlon Moore.  It might have been a little low, but regardless, it was a great something-out-of-nothing play.  While he only played the first series, he looked excellent with a perfect 4-for-4 completions and appears to be hitting the ground running in 2013.
  • Once most of the first-string defense made their exit, the standout was nose tackle Ian Williams who appears to be head-and-shoulders above Glenn Dorsey in terms of performance.  If this game was any indication, I completely expect Williams to win the starting job while Dorsey rotates in at both nose tackle and defensive end.

  • Tight end Vance McDonald is my personal pick to be the impact rookie for the San Francisco 49ers this year.  McDonald wasn't perfect -- he dropped at least one very catchable ball -- but he showed some fantastic athleticism and moves his body well for such a big guy.
  • Corey Lemonier was inserted into the lineup in the second quarter, and he was very impressive. He moves fluidly and just looks like a natural pass-rusher.  Late in the second quarter, the Broncos ran a halfback screen pass.  Lemonier was right by Brock Osweiler in the backfield, but showed some great hustle to catch up to Knowshon Moreno about ten yards up-field.
  • The dust has yet to settle on the competition for the third cornerback position vacated by Chris Culliver who is out for the year with an ACL injury.  It's still early, but Perrish Cox is making a strong case.  Cox looked very good in coverage and was also very effective in the return game -- both punt and kickoff.

  • To commemorate the Niners' final season in Candlestick Park, the endzones received a paintjob that was a blast from the past.  And they looked...glorious. Makes me wish they would have just stuck with the old script rather than modernizing it.  Is it too late for a minor uniform alteration, Nike?

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