The San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of getting ready for their Week 2 preseason contest against the Denver Broncos, but with one day of joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens left, I thought I'd take a look back at some winners and losers from last Thursday. We'll have a bubble watch and 53-man roster projection either today or tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are a few guys who helped and hurt their stock. This is not close to everybody on the roster, so feel free to list your own winners and losers.
Vance McDonald - I don't think he could have had a better game. He only had 12 snaps, but he made the most of them. He had 2 catches for 24 yards, including an impressive 17-yard catch and run on Colin Kaepernick's one pass completion. In both his catches he showed how strong he can be, dragging defenders after the catch. We also saw some solid blocking, including one player where he went in motion into the backfield, and then helped spring Carlos Hyde's first run. His practices have been seemingly up and down with some big catches, but also too many drops, so it was good to get him a couple quick easy passes in the game to build on.
Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial - The two young defensive linemen did some strong work. It wasn't perfect, as the run D showed, but they provided a glimpse at what they can do. Tank had the early sack, and Dial forced a pair of fumbles, to go with 10 tackles. They both showed the force they can bring.
Carlos Hyde - It was a small sample size, but Hyde looked very sharp in his pro debut. He showed solid vision, speed and power in his runs, and he looked solid in one blitz pick-up. It doesn't tell us everything, but it is a strong first game to build on.
Bruce Ellington - The 49ers rookie receiver and return man put together a strong first game. He muffed one punt (although he did quickly recover it), but other than that, it was a strong performance for Ellington. He led the team with 3 receptions for 35 yards, and averaged 31 yards on his 2 kickoff returns. He had a fair catch to go along with the muffed punt, so we'll see what he can do with that in Week 2.
Chris Cook, Dontae Johnson - The secondary was inconsistent on Thursday, but we saw some good things from Cook and Johnson, in particular. Cook has never had a regular season interception, so seeing him read Tyrod Taylor and snag an interception is kind of a big deal. Johnson gave up one catch for 15 yards, and had one pass breakup on four targets. The pass breakup was against Deonte Thompson, who ran a 4.31 40 coming out of college. Johnson probably should have had the pick, but just tracking Thompson step-for-step down the field was impressive.
Chris Borland, special teams - He looked sharp in punt coverage, and this seems like his best chance to make an immediate impact
Run D - Mike Purcell arguably struggled the most, but the run D as a whole was pretty abysmal throughout the game. Purcell has a huge opportunity with Glenn Dorsey's injury and Ian Williams unknown status. This game did not help his case.
Right side of the offensive line - From center to right tackle, it was not a great day for the 49ers offensive line. When the 49ers ran toward Joe Staley and Mike Iupati they found success, but when they ran toward Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney, and Jonathan Martin, it was not quite so much. Martin had success in pass protection, but his run blocking leaves room for improvement. It is possible Kilgore's performance is shaded by allowing one QB pressure and then struggling on his block on Jewel Hampton's inside run down inside the ten.
Blaine Gabbert - We've gone over this plenty. It was a poor performance from Gabbert. He's got plenty of bad film from the game to look through before next week's game against Denver.
Chris Borland, linebacker - Vic Fangio had talked about him being too aggressive at times and missing his assignments. We saw that several times on Thursday. He's got a lot of work to do as a linebacker