The 49ers had their “dress rehearsal” in Indianapolis facing the Colts, and the starters on the defense played a full half and the offense played that, plus an additional drive in the second half. The running game was much more productive than it has been in the first two preseason games but that could be a result of many things. It could be that new addition Alfred Morris is a more patient and had better vision at running back, that the offensive line is starting to improve, or that the Colts defensive line just isn’t that good. Likely it’s a combination of all three.
Here are your winners and losers from Indianapolis:
The New Guy
Alfred Morris ran the ball 17 times for 84 yards which is by far the best performance of a 49ers running back in the preseason. While he admitted he was gassed in Houston with the humidity and needing to get back into football shape, he looked pretty much like his old self in Indy. He quickly got his legs back underneath him and looks to keep a spot on the final 53.
While they didn’t put a lot of points on the board, the first team offense was very productive. They gained 213 yards in a very balanced fashion in the first half, 114 yards in the air and 99 yards on the ground. They averaged nearly 6.3 yards per play and didn’t seem to miss a beat with the offensive line rotation between Joshua Garnett and Mike Person at right guard.
The Great Wall
The first team defensive line performed well keeping the Colts running backs stifled. At the half the Colts only had mustered 32 yards on the ground with the leading rusher being Andrew Luck with 4 carries/scrambles for 27 yards. Likely, he only got that far because the linebackers refrained from destroying him on several plays. After all, it’s the preseason.
Jimmy Garoppolo had a decent day but it would have been a much better one if his receivers didn’t drop passes like they did. In the first half four different receivers couldn’t hold onto the ball when targeted: Cole Hikutini, Trent Taylor, Raheem Mostert and Kendrick Bourne. In the third quarter, Garrett Celek dropped a pass from Garoppolo as well. Someone get Jerry Rice’s stickum please.
Joe Williams didn’t even play because of a rib injury. Kyle Shanahan reported that he may or may not play in the fourth preseason game depending on how his recovery is going. If he can’t play, the team may just go with the hot hand of Alfred Morris after he showed what he is capable of doing. Williams needed to prove that he really had the desire to be an NFL running back but at this point, that might not even be enough.
The Red Zone
The 49ers had a several trips to the red zone but failed to get into the end zone except for the one yard run by Nick Mullens. The good news is that the offense was balanced and productive. The bad news is that they won’t be able to win games if they can only score field goals.
The Yellow Flags
For the second week in a row the 49ers were plagued by penalties. This week they had 10 penalties for 98 yards, which is improvement over last weeks 15 penalties for 140 yards but still a very unacceptable level. While the referees figure out how they are going to navigate through the new initiating contact with the head calls, the teams and fans watching at home will likely suffer. The 49ers offense, however, were the culprits this week with several calls ranging from holding to illegal formations to false starts which held back the offense from scoring.