And that’s it for the starters. The San Francisco 49ers showed a lot of promise to begin their third preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, unfortunately failure to finish in all aspects of the game let the Colts tighten their grip with the lead until the end. Despite some late-game magic by Nick Mullens to narrow the deficit, the 49ers lost 23-17.
There’s actually a lot of good to take from this game. The starters, while average, showed us a lot of good things to get excited about when the regular season begins. Some of the backups like Aldrick Robinson showed that the decisions for the 53-man roster will be difficult as well. This game marks the last time we’ll see a majority of the starters until Week 1 when the regular season begins, so let’s look at six things we learned tonight.
Jimmy G isn’t Jimmy G when his receivers can’t catch the ball
You may look at the box score, see Jimmy Garoppolo completed 47 percent of his passes and begin to get nervous. Don’t. Garoppolo can’t be Jimmy G when his pass catchers can’t hold onto the ball. Too many times the 49ers would have easy drops. One of which cost them a touchdown. Garoppolo isn’t clean of his throws, several should have been picked off, but a lot of his issues tonight were because of his receivers. Catch the dang ball!
Scrambling quarterbacks getting yardage is embarrassing
The 49ers defensive line swarmed around Andrew Luck on the Colt’s first drive and generated a sack that made everyone turn and wonder if the 49ers defense had finally found their pass rush.
Then Andrew Luck’s offensive line pushed the 49ers around and he scrambled. And scrambled. And scrambled. None so ridiculous as a 3rd and 12 run right up the middle that extended things to a Colts touchdown moments later. The 49ers defenders were dominated at times by the Colts offensive line and it’s something you can’t have.
Reuben Foster will not be seen until Week 3
The 49ers linebacker went down with a concussion and will need to enter the concussion protocol. Originally, Foster was looked at as getting some playing time in the fourth preseason game, that simply isn’t going to happen. Considering the 49ers only have two practices this week until the game, it’s not going to be enough time for Foster to be healthy. That means Reuben Foster will be entering the regular season serving his suspension. He’ll be back in Week 3.
Alfred Morris should have been signed sooner
The 49ers running back is the newest acquisition and was held out of the Texans game in order to get familiar with the playbook. Against the Colts, Morris showed up in a big way with 17 carries for 84 yards and almost making running the ball look easy.
One thing to take from this: The Colts defense isn’t world beaters by any stretch, so Morris getting running room should be somewhat expected. That said, given how he looked, Joe Williams and Jeremy McNichols may be out of a job shortly.
The 49ers offensive line was not bad
The 49ers spent a lot of time retooling the offensive line in the 2018 offseason and the last piece was the right offensive guard. The battle narrowed to Joshua Garnett and Mike Person, and both were rotated frequently. The line itself had no issues, helping the running backs get lanes and giving Garoppolo more time. While we can’t put a finger on who will win the position, neither played themselves out of the spot tonight.
Pierre Garçon/Jimmy Garoppolo have a decent connection.
A lot was said about how quiet Garçon was during 2018’s training camp. Put those concerns to rest, especially with the catches tonight:
#49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo to Pierre Garcon is a connection I can get used to watching. pic.twitter.com/A2hACcUdFK— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) August 25, 2018
The 49ers wide receivers are quickly becoming a strength as opposed to a huge weakness. The group can simply beat defenders in so many ways that Shanahan’s offense is one to watch. All they got to do is catch the ball. Garçon had a couple other nice catches tonight as well, but the above one is the one to look for.
The 49ers return to Santa Clara and host the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday. This is the final preseason game, so don’t expect to see many starters playing. This will be a battle for the remainder roster spots by the 49ers.