The eyes of Niners Nation, and the national media for sure, will be fixated on Trey Lance on Friday night against the Packers. But, good or bad, Lance’s snaps are going to be dissected more than Deebo Samuel’s Instagram account.
While that level of analysis is inevitable, Levin Black and I asked the question as to whether or not it should be on today’s Gold Standard podcast.
As usual, Levin was pretty blunt about how he felt:
“I am not watching for how Trey Lance does. Very, very, very little value, good or bad, will I take out of preseason. Kyle doesn’t run the real offense so I don’t really care, and you don’t know what the defense is running. A player can dominate because the defense is running a crap coverage because they don’t want to show anything.
Or the defense can dominate because they actually do run crazy complicated blitz schemes. We’ve seen that a few times in preseason where you’ve got a defensive coordinator that really doesn’t like the other team, he has some vendetta against them or whatever, and they end up running actual, true, regular season blitz schemes and the blocking schemes are not ready for it. They’re not calling audibles, you know, it’s preseason. You see an offense just get obliterated by the first team because of that.
I just don’t take almost anything out of any quarterback in the preseason and I think it’s even more so with what we’ve seen Kyle Shanahan do in the preseason and how he treats it.”
It pains me to say this, but Levin is right about variance in what teams run against each other. 49ers fans of a certain age will definitely remember the team’s offense getting steamrolled by New Orleans in the preseason of 2011.
For the unaware, the Saints felt they were snubbed by then 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh because he didn’t honor an unwritten NFL rule about head coaches discussing how preseason games would be handled ahead of time.
During the game, Gregg Williams’ Saints defense called 18 blitzes in the first half alone, resulting in five sacks and two forced fumbles against the 49ers' starting offensive line.
When it comes to the preseason as a whole, I have always subscribed to Mark Schlereth’s old line, “It doesn’t count, but it does matter.” There are always things to notice any time teams play against each other in a game. That’s why they record them and break them down during the week. Even beyond football, there are things to be learned simply by observing interactions between players and coaches, teammates, and opponents.
While Lance himself will get the lion’s share of attention, there are plenty of other places on this team that are worthy of your attention Friday night. How do the running backs look? With Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley not playing, which cornerbacks take advantage of increased reps? Will Drake Jackson begin to show us he can be the answer to an edge rusher opposite Nick Bosa?
As difficult as it may be, we must resist the temptation to anoint or Trey Lance as the second coming of Steve Young or another in a long line of busts after one preseason game. Or two. Or three. It will be fun to watch, but it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Other topics in today’s show
- Has Levin recovered after Michelle owned him last week? (:49)
- Levin has multiple beefs with Stats (6:54)
- Charvarius Ward and Emmanuel Moseley are both hurt (13:48)
- What to watch for on Friday
- Cornerback depth (16:21)
- RB competition (18:35)
- OL play (20:16)
- Drake Jackson (22:34)
- Why Levin won’t be watching for Lance (30:38)
- Have the guardian helmet caps saved our QBs from injury this year? (33:26)
- Kyle Shanahan can’t wear the Shanahat this year, and he’s big mad (35:04)
- Stats is a giant space nerd: Go watch the supermoon tonight! (41:56)