The San Francisco 49ers made it through their dress rehearsal game, and it was not pretty. The 49ers lost by a final score of 19-12, with the offensive line leaking on the right side like a sieve. There were some good things on the day, including some of the work by the defense. But a kind of ugly 19-12 final score really does reflect what was an ugly game for the 49ers.
1. NaVorro Bowman is BACK!
I suppose we knew this already after last week, but consider this nice confirmation. NaVorro Bowman had a monster of a first half, finishing with eight tackles, two for a loss, and two sacks. He was all over the field, showing the speed and power we grew to love. He has a lot of football in front of him, but this is an excellent sign.
2. Dontae Johnson looked good in coverage on the outside, not on the inside
The 49ers went with Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker on the outside to start the game, but then brought Johnson in for the nickel. Early in the game, DJ was the outside corner in the nickel, and his coverage was quite solid. However, the coaching staff decided to give him some time covering the slot, and it was not nearly as good. Jordan Norwood did some solid work against DJ in some of those instances. Johnson is best suited for the outside, and hopefully the team sticks with him outside moving forward.
3. The right side of the offensive line is a problem
The 49ers rolled out a new right interior portion of the line on Saturday. Marcus Martin moved from right guard to center, and rookie Ian Silberman handled right guard. Once again, the right side of the line was shaky at best. Silberman looked lost on his first play of the game, and Erik Pears gave up a sack for a safety in the second quarter. Silberman did not look any better on that play. The 49ers desperately need to figure out something with the line.
4. Reggie Bush is no Jarryd Hayne when it comes to punt returns
The 49ers welcomed Reggie Bush into action for the first time on Saturday, and he got quite a bit of work. He got some running plays, but more notable was that he handled punt returns out of the gates in place of Jarryd Hayne. Bush has not returned a regular season punt since 2011, and it kind of showed. He did have a decent return his first time, but the second time he let a ball bounce he should have caught, and knew it right away. The ball bounced inside the five and was downed by the Broncos.
Hayne did get some return work in the second half, with a 9-yard punt return on his first touch of the ball. He later moved in at running back, finishing with zero yards on two carries, and 18 yards on one reception. It was a fairly low key performance for the rugby league star.
5. The passing game is hit and miss right now
It's hard to say much of anything with certainty about this passing game. Kap has hit some short passes, but really hasn't been able to get much of anything going. A lot of that rests on the shoulders of the offensive line, but Kap was missing on some of his passes as well. He only attempted 13 passes the entire preseason, and it is likely his preseason is done. It was not a particularly good preseason showing, but I'm willing to wait and see what Week 1 brings in the passing game. Of course, if the offensive line is performing like what we've seen, it might not matter.
6. Jaquiski Tartt is going to continue in passing down linebacker role
The 49ers continued to roll out Tartt as a linebacker in passing situations. It was primarily in the dime this time, but this followed some apparently nickel linebacker work last week against the Cowboys. I don't know how frequently we'll see him, but I have to think it becomes at least a modest part of the defense.
7. Bruce Ellington has some moves
The 49ers welcomed Ellington back to the field after a leg strain cost him most of the first half of training camp and the preseason. If he could stay healthy he is a dynamic weapon. Unfortunately he has not stayed healthy with the 49ers. He got some kick return work and I imagine the 49ers will look to multiple avenues for taking advantage of his playmaking ability.
8. Kendall Hunter's time with the 49ers is rapidly coming to a close
This marked Hunter's first game action since before tearing his ACL a year ago, and he looked tentative on seven carries for 15 yards. It was an expected development given his injury, but with the depth at running back, a slow recovery is likely going to cost Hunter his roster spot. The 49ers might surprise us, but it is not looking good for Hunter, which is a shame.
9. Corey Acosta can kick
It wasn't a pretty game of football, and it was reflected in the final score. Corey Acosta provided all the points for the 49ers, connecting on four field goals in the 19-12 loss. The rookie free agent was brought in as a camp leg, and impressed in short order. He will not supplant Phil Dawson, but he might land elsewhere. I don't know if he will get claimed off waivers, but I could see him being an injury replacement for somebody down the road.