Saturday’s game against the Houston Texans was an ugly game. Well, it actually had the makings of quite a good game, that is, until the starters were pulled. After that, it became the kind of game that really makes you work out whether or not the 3rd stringers from either team would be able to beat a premier NCAA team, such as the Crimson Tide or Buckeyes. At the end of the day, however, these preseason games are more about evaluating talent, rather than presenting a competitive game.
The game against the Texans, beyond the starters, was something of a mixed bag. Over the span of several quarters, it really seems like RB Jeremy McNichols cemented his position - perhaps not on the 53 man roster, just yet - over 2017 draft pick Joe Williams. Although McNichols’ stat line was only marginally better than Williams’, the eye-test showed something entirely different. McNichols repeatedly made something out of nothing, showing power and elusiveness in the ground game, and the kind of hands that make for a reliable safety valve in the passing game. Williams, on the other hand, seemed to be lost for much of his performance - unable to make defenders miss, and on one occasion, just running up the backside of one of his linemen for a loss.
The offensive line wasn’t spectacular, but showed modest improvement from last week. Although allowing no sacks, the quarterbacks were regularly pressured, and the OL as a whole gave up an obscene amount of yardage through penalties. In case you missed it, Weston Richburg alone was responsible for 25 yards worth - on one play - which resulted in a 1st and 35. Speaking of zero sacks, the 49ers pass rush was also abysmal. Perhaps the best way I saw it put, paraphrased, was “Cassius Marsh was invisible, despite being the best option at LEO. By default”.
However, Jimmy Garoppolo had a fine game, other than a poorly thrown ball that was intercepted. This came on the heels of the aforementioned 1st & 35, so it’s safe to assume that the defense was ready to play the pass. The rest of his day was generally successful, including a back-of-the-endzone TD pass to Trent Taylor (who only had two catches for seven yards - although, they were a 3rd down conversion and a TD) and a great job of finding Marquise Goodwin over and over.
Perhaps the best story of the day was Joshua Garnett’s return from injury, and the success he found. Although it was a small sample size against backups, Garnett held his own throughout the game, and in the process, breathed some life back into the RG competition.
The 49ers’ next preseason game will be Saturday, August 25th at the Indianapolis Colts.
More questions regarding RB depth | Maiocco, NBC Sports Bay Area
Solomon Thomas is working on his pass-rush moves | DeSimone, 4th & 9