The San Francisco 49ers took the field at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday for their preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. It was typical for the start of the exhibition season, with forgettable play and penalties dominating the evening. Despite the mess, there were still plenty of notable developments in the 49ers’ first win of the year.
Here are our five takeaways from the 49ers’ 17-9 preseason victory over Dallas:
Trent Taylor out
We found out the hard way - through the TV broadcast - that Taylor broke his foot and underwent surgery on Friday. The 49ers receiver is coming off a year hampered by a back injury that required surgery before the 2018 season. Taylor recovered well though and looked good throughout training camp as the team’s most targeted wideout. Coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game that they hope to have Taylor back before Week 1, citing the 4-6 week recovery associated with the injury, revealed to be a Jones fracture. The regular season begins in four weeks.
Several of the 49ers’ rookie class made an impact during Sunday’s win over the Cowboys. Receiver Jalen Hurd, the team’s third-round pick, reeled in three receptions for 31 yards and the game’s only two touchdowns. Both scores were impressive, with Hurd barreling over a defender for the first and going up and over one for the second. Rookie receiver Deebo Samuel also had a good game, catching two passes for 61 yards and rushing for 14. 45 of his yards receiving came on one play, with Samuel going up and over a defender to reel in a deep ball from quarterback C.J. Beathard.
Rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw led the defense with five tackles, one tackle for loss and a special teams stop. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky averaged an impressive 49.5 yards on six punts, pinning the Cowboys’ offense inside the 20 three times.
Injuries pile up
The 49ers sat 28 players for their preseason debut, many of which are recovering from injuries in some way or another. The bug didn’t let up on those that played. Backup swing tackle Shon Coleman was injured in the first quarter and was carted off the field with a right leg injury. It’s expected to be a season-ending, per Matt Barrows of The Athletic. Defensive lineman D.J. Jones (knee), running back Raheem Mostert (concussion) and guard Najee Toran (hand) round out the list of players that left the game early to injury.
The 49ers may have set a penalty record on Saturday - whether it be their own or league-wide. The team totaled a whopping 18 penalties for 216 yards against the Cowboys. Late in the fourth quarter, cornerback Dontae Johnson was flagged on a 35-yard pass interference call that put the Cowboys on the four-yard line, down 17-9. It was an error that should’ve given Dallas at least six points, but the 49ers defense ensured four straight incompletions to put the game away. In contrast, Dallas only committed five penalties for 59 yards.
Backup quarterback undecided
Shanahan said after the game that the competition for backup duty behind Jimmy Garoppolo is far from over. Neither C.J Beathard or Nick Mullens did much to separate themselves on Saturday. Mullens was first out, completing 11 of 17 passes for 105 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Beathard in the second half totaled 13 of 17 for 141 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Both turnovers were poor decisions. Garoppolo is expected to play in both Week 2 and 3 of the preseason. If he does, his snaps will be very limited, leaving essentially three more games for the competition to unfold between Mullens and Beathard.