The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their second exhibition game on Monday with a 24-15 win over the Broncos in Denver. It was a polarizing performance, to say the least, with the first-team offense proving ineffective against the Broncos defense. It wasn’t until the second half, with the second- and third-string units on the field, that the 49ers began to build some momentum.
Here are our five takeaways from the 49ers’ preseason win over Denver:
Rough debut for Garoppolo
Garoppolo’s first four passes were all into the hands of Broncos defenders. Two were batted down, one was intercepted, and the fourth should have been. The 49ers quarterback’s return to the field for the first time in almost a year was less than ideal. Garoppolo finished his three drives completing 1 of 6 passes for zero yards and a 0.0 quarterback rating. It wasn’t all on Jimmy, though, who was given very little time to throw surrounded by a porous offensive line.
On the first drive, Broncos pass rusher Bradley Chubb darted right by left tackle Joe Staley on an inside move, almost untouched, pressuring Garoppolo before his interception. It looked like a miscommunication between Staley and left guard Laken Tomlinson may have been to blame. Garoppolo was under duress on almost every one of his six drop-backs. Chubb also got the better of rookie tackle Justin Skule, beating the sixth-round rookie around the edge to strip quarterback CJ Beathard of the ball. It was a worrisome performance for an offensive line missing starting center Weston Richburg (leg) and right guard Mike Person (foot), both of who the 49ers hope to ready for Week 1.
Kendrick Bourne or Richie James?
It’s a question that may arise when the 49ers coaching staff trims their 90-man roster to 53 players later this month. Currently, the team’s receiving corps consists of three locks: Dante Pettis along with rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. Veteran Marquise Goodwin and slot wideout Trent Taylor also have a solid shot. Both Bourne and James continued to make their case on Monday. Bourne, although dropping one well-placed deep ball from Beathard, finished with a 26-yard catch and an impressive toe-dragging touchdown. James put together three kick returns of 48, 32 and 34 yards. He also added a 14-yard reception. There’s a scenario where the 49ers keep both Bourne and James, but with Jordan Matthews also in the fold, there’s a chance it comes down to one or the other.
Robert Saleh’s defense put together another solid performance on Monday. The 49ers didn’t allow a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter after a turnover put the Broncos in scoring position. Denver averaged three yards per play to the 49ers’ 5.3. The defense totaled six sacks, with defensive lineman Kentavius Street and Jay Bromley combining for 3.5 of those. Starting safety Jaquski Tartt totaled five tackles, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup. Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, cornerback DJ Reed, and defensive end Jeremiah Voloaga also stood out.
Dirty laundry piles up
Last week against the Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers were penalized 18 times for a total of 218 yards. That number took an expected dip on Monday, falling to a still problematic 13 penalties for 101 yards. Among the guilty was offensive lineman Najee Toran and cornerback Dontae Johnson, who both committed two holding penalties. Through two games, the 49ers have out-flagged their opponents 31 to 14 and 319 yards to 157. It’s clear that discipline will be a continued focus for Shanahan as the 49ers prepare to face the Kansas City Chiefs at the always-rowdy Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday.