San Francisco 49ers football is back! The team opened up their preseason schedule at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday evening playing host to the visiting Dallas Cowboys. For many rookies and players on the roster bubble, it was their first opportunity to make a statement and show the coaching staff that they belonged on the fifty-three-man roster. As for many of the familiar faces on the team, we will have to wait till the second or even third game of the preseason to see them in action.
Last season the injury bug was devastating to the 49ers, and right out of the gates the 49ers lost Trent Taylor to a broken foot. This occurred in practice a day before the game. One of the top backup offensive tackles, Shon Coleman, suffered a severe leg injury and his season very much appears to be in jeopardy. In addition, the team will miss Elijah Lee (Thumb) and D.J. Jones (Sprained Knee). Lastly, special team’s standout Raheem Mostert exited the game with a head injury. Head coach Kyle Shanahan was reluctant to roll out the starters, and that was probably a wise choice. However, let’s hope the injury plague does not affect this team, especially when the games begin to matter.
Another thing that stood out was the 18 penalties against the 49ers and over 200 yards assessed throughout the game. Hats off to the 49ers for still coming out victorious. While you may get away with that in preseason action, don’t expect the same results when the games begin to count. This is an area I am confident that coaching staff will look to clean up in practice and throughout the remainder of the preseason.
Now, let’s take a look at some bright spots and silver linings that should get us excited as the season inches closer and closer.
Rookie Receivers Make A Great First Impression
The San Francisco 49ers 3rd round selection Jalen Hurd had a memorable debut and put himself in a serious discussion to not only earn a roster spot but a place in the starting lineup. The former running back, turned receiver made a great first impression with three receptions for 31 yards and two touchdowns. With Trent Taylor nursing a broken foot, it only opens the door for Hurd who showed his ability to play physical, gain yards after the reception, and be a RedZone threat with his size. His first touchdown was a beauty!
Deebo Samuel had himself a fine first impression as well, with two receptions for 61 yards. Samuel showed his ability to extend the play and even stretch the field. I am excited to see how Samuel continues to progress throughout the preseason. He has an argument to be the potential number one option. Dante Pettis has competition, and the two rookies made their mark on Saturday night and certainly separated themselves from the rest of the receiving pack.
Backup QB Battle Heats Up
While it is fair to say that no fan wants to see a backup take the field this season, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard connected on the majority of their passes with each throwing for a touchdown. It will be fun and intriguing to see how this plays out, and while the consensus will agree that they want nothing more than to see Jimmy Garoppolo on the field for all 16 contests this season, having a capable backup is necessary and a must. At the moment Nick Mullens seems to have a slight advantage, but I wouldn’t count out Beathard quite yet. We will see how this shakes out.
The Young Defense Stands Strong
Let’s get one thing out of the way. It was the first preseason game, with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th stringers, and yes there is a lot to fix and improve upon. However, the defense should be applauded. Holding the Dallas offense that included a dose of Dak Prescott in the first quarter to a touchdown-less game should only increase the confidence in this unit. I was especially impressed on the final drive when pass interference was called on Dontae Johnson. The defense held their ground and kept the Cowboys out of the endzone. It’s these small steps that will hopefully lead to further growth, confidence, and the ability to close games.
On one final note…It was a great feeling having Robbie Gould on the field. With a new contract signed the 49ers have themselves one of the most reliable kickers in the entire league.
What were some SILVER LININGS you observed in the first preseason game of the season? Please share in the comments below!