The San Francisco 49ers got their first win of the 2015 preseason on Sunday, defeating the Dallas Cowboys by a final score of 23-6. The offense focused more on the ground game, rushing 38 times, while only passing 17 times. The defense and special teams are what really stood out though. NaVorro Bowman made his return, Mike Purcell ran back a pick-six, and the 49ers defense had four sacks and three interceptions. The special teams saw Jarryd Hayne looked great on punt returns, and DeAndrew White get in a nice return. Oh, and of course, Quinton Patton blocked a punt and recovered the ball for a touchdown.
On to a few things we learned.
1. NaVorro Bowman looked gooooood
The 49ers welcomed Bo back to the field, and he had a great first appearance. It was the three-and-out to start the game, but boy did he make an impact. Bowman finished with three tackles, including two for a loss. I'm guessing he had just a little bit of adrenaline, but even still, he looked fine on tackles inside the box, and also one outside on a reception. He got in, shook off some rust, and got out in one piece. The fact that he also got three tackles was really just a whole lot of icing on the cake.
2. Jarryd Hayne has to be on the roster, right?
Hayne looked very solid in Week 1, breaking off a 53-yard run, and returning two punts for an average of 12 yards per return. If that got people excited, Week 2 took it up a notch. He returned three punts, and his shortest return was for 23 yards. He also had returns of 27-yards and 34-yards, resulting in an average of 28 yards per return. That would be great for a kick return average. For a punt return average, that is other-worldly. Obviously Hayne won't do that every punt, but he is on fire right now.
Breaking down another strong Jarryd Hayne game
The San Francisco 49ers got a huge game from their Australian import. Jarryd Hayne had a huge day as a punt returner, and solidly built on his running back work from a week ago. We break down his day.
3. The kickoff competition is still a thing
A week after Phil Dawson handled all the kickoffs, Bradley Pinion got some kickoff work against the Cowboys. He handled the first four kicks for the 49ers, before Phil Dawson got one, and then Corey Acosta finished off the game. Pinion's first two kicks resulted in touchbacks, and his latter two kicks were returned for 26- and 27-yards.
4. Darnell Dockett getting nickel work
Dockett got his first preseason playing time, and it was exclusively on third downs. It was expected we would see Dockett playing in the nickel, so this is not surprising. But it's good to see him getting some work.
5. We are seeing the offensive tempo in a variety of ways
The starting offense did not get a touchdown on the board, but the first drive showed us some intriguing aspects of the tempo we have heard so much about. We have often thought of tempo as it relates to play-calling, but the tempo on offense as a whole looked good in that first drive. We saw some great runs, some solid short passes, and an all around nice mix of run and pass plays.
6. Blaine Gabbert is not going to show us much of the deep game
Gabbert was 6 of 6 for 21 yards. Even if we add back in the 12 yards Quinton Patton lost on one reception, that's still only 33 yards. It's safe to say once Colin Kaepernick leaves the game, we're not going to see much of use in the deep passing game. That's not surprising, but it also means the wide receivers are just not going to be able to show a whole lot of much.
7. Jaquiski Tartt can bring the thump
He had himself some seriously big hits. What was most intriguing was seeing him line up in more of a linebacker position in the nickel. He lined up behind Darnell Dockett, and I suspect we see some of this when the regular season gets here. The 49ers have a lot of versatility with their secondary depth that opens up some new possibilities in 2015.
8. Mike Purcell adds a big play to his highlight reel
While Purcell did not have quite the eye-popping performance he did a week ago, it was still another good day for the rising defensive tackle. The highlight of course was his interception returned for a touchdown, but he was still active in the backfield. I don't think he has necessarily locked up a roster spot, but he is making it harder and harder on the coaching staff with each passing week.
9. The grass can in fact operate fine
The 49ers got a new batch of grass from an Arizona-based company, and I saw nothing to indicate any problems with it during the game. The 49ers will be replacing it after an upcoming Luke Bryan concert, but this can give us at least a little bit of confidence that they can figure this grass issue out.