The San Francisco 49ers dealt with several injuries during Monday Night Football, and that opened the door for some of their rookies to show what they could do. And now one of them is being honored for it. Cornerback Dontae Johnson has been nominated for NFL.com's Pepsi Rookie of the Week. Johnson had the game sealing pick-six in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Other nominees include Chargers running back Branden Oliver, Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, Browns running back Isaiah Crowell, and Broncos defensive back Bradley Roby. VOTE HERE.
Johnson had the most high profile play, but it was a solid night across the board for 49ers rookies. Aaron Lynch led the rookies with 47 snaps on defense, and another 11 on special teams. He finished the game with four quarterback hurries. He almost got credit for a sack, but that ended up going to Dan Skuta.
Chris Borland took over for Patrick Willis after the latter suffered a toe injury at the end of the second quarter. Borland had 31 defensive snaps and 18 special teams snaps. It marked his first regular season appearance with the defense, and he had a solid performance. Pro Football Focus graded him out at 3.7 overall, with a 1.4 grade in pass coverage, and 2.1 grade in pass rush thanks to a pair of hurries. He will get the start this Sunday if Patrick Willis cannot play.
Jimmie Ward played 20 defensive snaps and 11 special teams snaps before suffering a quadricep injury. Since his Week 2 struggles with Brandon Marshall, Ward has shown some solid improvement. We have not heard his name mentioned all that frequently in games, which in my mind is a good thing for a rookie defensive back. He is not making huge plays, but he is also not giving up huge plays. There is no word yet on his status for Week 7.
On the offensive side of the ball, Carlos Hyde had 31 snaps, and was given a chance to convert a 4th and goal late in the game. He came up short, but the 49ers are trusting him fairly early in his career. He had 11 rushes on the game, to 16 for Frank Gore. I don't see Gore giving up his starting role anytime soon this season, but Hyde is clearly in the mix.
Dillon Farrell also got some work in, playing on four offensive snaps and two special teams snaps. After Mike Iupati suffered his concussion, Joe Looney moved in at left guard. This moved Farrell into the extra lineman role for heavy formations.
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