The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up a stinker of a home debut on Sunday, dropping a 34-0 loss to the Denver Broncos. There was a lot more bad than good, which probably makes some of the losers part of this a bit redundant. However, there were also some highlights of note. And so, we're back once again to consider some winners and losers from this game. This is far from an exhaustive list, so feel free to chime in with your own.
Colin Kaepernick - He kept things pretty simple, and did not make any huge plays. He had a couple opportunities but couldn't convert. And yet, seeing him scan the field a couple times was a nice thing to see. He has one and a half seasons of starting under his belt, and he is far from a completed product. I look at his preseason work as a chance to see how he does on these little things. Sure I'd love to see him connect on a deep bomb, and scramble all over the field, but just seeing improvement in his field vision is a big plus.
Kenneth Acker - The quantity of cornerbacks on the 49ers roster has left Acker as a bit of an afterthought at times. However, he put together a strong performance on Sunday, and according to the beat writers that followed a strong series of practices over the last week or two. The 49ers will have some tough decisions to make in a couple weeks.
Bruce Ellington - He did not put up huge numbers with four receptions for 24 yards, and he probably could have hauled in one or more of his targets. And yet, he remains the top targeted player on this team. The backup quarterbacks are looking his way, with Blaine Gabbert in particular keeping an eye on him. Given that Colin Kaepernick is working with the 1s, I'm not surprised to see Gabbert connect with Ellington. It will be interesting to see if Ellington gets any significant opportunities with Kaepernick before the end of the preseason.
Vance McDonald - He only had 1 reception for 9 yards, so maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but so far, so good for McDonald. He's shown good hands, which was an area of concern. We need to see this consistently the rest of the way, but I am pleased.
Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial - Tank still looking strong and fast, Dial still looking strong as a bull. These two were unable to contribute much last season, but with a full year of learning under their belt, both guys are looking like they could be important reserves this season.
Backup quarterbacks - Two interceptions and a fumble between the three backups is just not going to cut it. Gabbert has struggled, but neither of the other two have exactly wow'd us thus far.
Phil Dawson - What the hell was that, Phil? Dawson missed a 55-yard attempt, and a 44-yard attempt. He is still learning the wind patterns, and getting used to the grass, but hopefully this is just a little blip on the radar.
"First team" secondary - It's kind of hard to evaluate the first team defense given the multiple absences, but it was not exactly an inspiring performance. Peyton Manning picked apart the secondary to the tune of 12 of 14 for 102 yards. I don't include this as a "hard" loser, but it was still not great. They'll eventually have Justin Smith, Ian Williams, Ray McDonald, and Patrick Willis in there to start the season, but with Aldon Smith likely to miss some time with his suspension, the secondary will have to find ways to make some plays. I'm not overly concerned about this group, but it's worth a mention.
Dontae Johnson - Another one that I won't call a "hard" loser, but still worth a note. Cody Latimer had him all sorts of spun around on the 33-yard touchdown in the end zone. Johnson actually had excellent coverage, but seemed to get lost when he turned back to look at the ball. The competition for cornerback spots is going to be fierce, particularly with Kenneth Acker showing signs.
Mike Purcell - I don't think he was bad per se, but he had a huge opportunity these last two weeks, and it just seems like he has not come close to taking advantage of that opportunity.