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Five takeaways from the 49ers-Chiefs: Trey Lance took too many hits

Plus, there will be some difficult decisions to make at LB

Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

San Francisco lost their first preseason game Saturday, and there are plenty of takes to have, but it is early. To be fair, 16 starters didn’t suit up, and just two starters played on defense.

The offensive line struggled, letting Trey Lance take too many hits. However, Lance still prevailed in showing his arm talent. His velocity on throws could be looked at as a plus and a minus.

San Francisco drafted three defensive backs in the 2021 draft. All of them saw decent snaps and look to grow throughout the preseason. Unfortunately, the “second-team” defensive line was outplayed by the “third-team.” I wrote about how the LB group could be tops in the league - Now it looks to be a difficult decision in who to cut.

I go in-depth on my five takeaways below.

Lance took too many hits

Trey Lance taking too many hits wasn’t solely on the offensive line. Lance has to improve his pocket presence because he will face a lot better defensive lines in the NFL. Yes, the offensive line did not do much to protect Lance at times.

Chris Jones manhandles Daniel Brunskill in the first clip, and he’s a starter. Hopefully, veteran center Alex Mack would recognize the Chiefs sending the blitz in the second clip.

Lance could probably take some blame for this one. Kansas City sent six and got home because the LB on the edge wasn’t accounted for. He should be identifying who’s threatening to blitz as well as the center. Lance also missed Wayne Gallman running underneath.

I talked about how Aaron Banks could use a big game Saturday to raise his stock in beating out Brunskill for the starting right guard spot. And it did not turn out too well. Banks was beaten in three of the six clips in the video above. His Saturday night was cut short when he injured his shoulder while getting a pancake block.

The offensive line struggled in pass protection and wasn’t great in run blocking. However, Wayne Gallman nor Trey Sermon did any justice with their vision. JaMycal Hasty played much better than them, and even he fumbled in plus territory.

Trey Lance has some serious velocity

When watching San Francisco Saturday, you saw a QB (Lance) with a true rocket for an arm. Jimmy Garoppolo has been constantly questioned why he does not throw it deep or outside the numbers. Lance has the superior arm over Gorappalo.

Velocity is an obvious plus and minus for Lance in the clips above. Accuracy and ball placement are two traits he has to work on. To be clear, head coach Kyle Shanahan did not run Lance and will likely run a different offense with him in the regular season.

Young defensive backs show promise

Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans played a lot of man coverage against the chiefs. The young corners played decently but struggled to get their head around to locate the ball.

Deommodre Lenoir caught an interception, but he had a similar C- game as Ambry Thomas did. Thomas has to make better plays on the ball.

I wrote Hufanga could look to gain the respect of coaches by showing out in the pre-season games. And he performed well on Saturday.

Hufanga raised his stock with the two third-down stops shown above. Hufanga also got two tackles on special teams, showing how he truly loves to fly to the ball.

The third-string defensive line played best?

You would think the defensive line would have a good day despite missing the starters. The new highly anticipated additions Arden Key, Maurice Hurst, and Zach Kerr didn’t make an impact rushing the passer. In contrast, most of the pass-rush production came from the third-string defensive line.

The “second-team” defensive line wasn’t bad. They didn’t mirror the success of collapsing the pocket as the “third team” did. However, Eddie Vanderdoes and Shilique Calhoun really impressed me in the second half.

With a deep defensive tackle group, it's hard to say where Vanderdoes stands, but he gave maximum effort Saturday. Calhoun played the zone-read so well, the Chiefs stopped running it to his side. The pass-rush production may not show up for Calhoun, but he was constantly in the backfield. As a result, San Francisco may need to hold on to him on the practice squad.

Linebacker core will be the hardest group to make cuts for

Jonas Griffith and Justin Hilliard both had several impressive plays against the chiefs. Elijah Sulivan made some sneaky good plays, also. The 49ers signing Mychal Kendricks shows that they are still unsatisfied with the LB room.

Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and Azeez Al-Shaair are expected to return to practice this week. Two veterans returning and the new signee Kendricks, who’s entering his tenth year as a pro, will turn up the heat for the linebacker competition.

Conclusion

Offensive line struggles can easily continue in the preseason, and Lance has to be aware of that. Expect Shanahan to give more max protection looks to protect his future asset. Lance’s velocity on throws and willingness to throw it deep is great. At the same time, if he can’t consistently make the throws, Shanahan will stay with Gorappalo.

General manager John Lynch has tough decisions cutting players at defensive line and linebacker. Calhoun and Vanderdoes both deserve more reps next Sunday against the Chargers. However, the 49ers still have work to do on both sides of the ball.