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Five takeaways from the 49ers first two preseason games

Kyle Snow drops in for a guest article to give us his thoughts about what he saw from the first couple of Niners’ preseason games.

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A little preface here to the article. I’m a huge believer in chunk plays. I was caught up for years in the way Tom Brady could reliably get the ball to Wes Welker or the way Frank Gore could always manage to get 4 yards.

However, with the onset of analytics, it’s pretty clear that big plays are what matters. You can have a 15 play drive, with five first, and it doesn't mean much if you fail to score. But if Raheem Mostert breaks a long run for a touchdown, that’s game-changing. It’s awesome that the analytics support this because, as a fan, it’s a lot more fun to see long touchdowns than Alex Smith check it down again and again.

Quarterback

Let Tray Lance start! From what I saw (again, only the preseason games), he looks good. I saw way less of the bad and way more of the good than what was written on Twitter from watching the games. He looked elusive in the pocket and accurate on the run. Once you combine that with his rocket launcher arm and what looks to be a durable body, it’s a winning combination.

Plus, as I said, he’s the guy that’s going to get you a chunk play. Is he inconsistent? Yeah, a little, but I don’t care. He gives you touchdown potential all the time. Is he going to get more consistent on the bench? No, so let the kid play.

Is Jimmy all that consistent? Not Really. Let’s go ahead and let Jimmy G be the best backup quarterback in the NFL. Can you imagine if the Niners won a Super Bowl and Jimmy got his third ring as a backup?

Running Back

So we all know that Kyle Shanahan has a type when it comes to running back. He likes small to medium backs, who have the speed to make game-changing runs. However, he’s probably frustrated that these guys can’t stay healthy. Enter Trey Sermon, who was supposed to be a little more of a power back.

However, he looked indecisive and lacked a burst in the game (in his scouting report). Right now, I’d put him fourth in the pecking order, behind Gallman. He did well in pass protection, but otherwise, he was underwhelming.

Overall, John Lynch has to stop wasting draft picks on running backs. I can’t say anything that Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Stats hasn’t already made abundantly clear about that.

The Niners are also so good at finding running backs late in the draft, undrafted, or in free agency; it makes wasting a draft pick on them even more bitter.

Again, I don’t want to write this guy off after one game, but he’s got a long way to go.

Wide Receiver

The wide receiver position is frustrating as a whole. It looks like Kyle got these guys like Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to work with Jimmy G. These are the guys that can get the ball in space, make people miss, and get a chunk play. However, now that we have Trey Lance, it looks like the Niners are going to have to get a more traditional receiver.

Honestly, I thought Deebo and Aiyuk had a chance to be top 15 wide receivers this year. A top-15 receiver doesn’t deflect the ball into the hands of the other team. I get it, the throws could have been better, but a top-15 receiver can reach back and come up with a catch. If you’re getting paid millions of dollars to catch a ball, please don’t say that the quarterback is throwing it too fast.

I know it’s a small sample, and they will both probably be good this year, but in the brief look we got, it didn’t look like either took a huge step forward over the offseason.

Jennings looked really good during the first game but didn’t play in the second with a heel injury.

James has had too many drops during the preseason. I heard he had a bounce-back game in game two. At one point, the ball zipped right across his face, and he wasn’t even able to get one hand on it. Literally, the ball was about 6 inches away from his nose, and he didn’t touch it.

Cornerback

First the bad, then the good. Ambry Thomas doesn’t look like a star. In the first game, he couldn’t contain Daurice Fountain. If you don’t know who Fountain is, he’s probably not an elite talent. In the second game against the Chargers, he looked even shakier. Basically, if there was a catch, number 20 was in coverage.

On the other side, Demmodore Lenoir looks like he has some real potential. He deflected a pass on third down early against the chargers and was in excellent position throughout the game. I’d be tempted to start him opposite of Verrett to see how he handles some high-level receivers. It was too bad that Keenan Allen wasn’t playing to give him a real challenge.

Lenoir worked in the slot for the first time during Thursday’s practice, which might help him get onto the field sooner.

D-Line

I have never seen a D-line like this before. Ever. Not only do we have top-level talents like Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, but we also have depth for days. Arik Armstead looked better than ever. I think this team wins the division based on the D-Line.

I read one 53-man projection which shows us cutting Kevin Givens, Darrion Daniels, Alex Barrett, and Eddie Yarbrough. We shouldn’t cut any of these guys. Instead, we should make other teams pay us in draft picks or wide receivers.

Shoot me any questions or let me know what you think of this article on Twitter @goldrushkdawg