The 49ers are undefeated in the preseason after they beat the Minnesota Vikings 17-7. San Francisco’s second preseason game was a fight of the reserves, with both teams having 27 players out. Ten players shined in a low-scoring bout, intensifying position battles across the roster. Let’s look at what they did well and what it means for their position group below.
The tight ends
The 49ers’ tight ends were the most targeted group against Minnesota’s defense. Tyler Kroft kickstarted San Francisco’s explosive plays early with a 19-yard reception. Kroft is looking to prove his durability after back injuries sidelined him last year.
Ross Dwelley caught all three of his targets as he looked to keep his head above water with the increased tight end competition.
Last but not least, Tanner Hudson had the game-high in catches in yards, but a third-down drop and a holding penalty that negated a touchdown would outshine his good game. Nevertheless, Hudson looked comfortable and is making a name for himself at TE3.
Jordan Mason was the shining light for me. I know it was late in the fourth quarter against players that may not even make the team, but he looked explosive and powerful. NinersNation’s very own Jordan Elliot vouched for Mason before the game, and we need to see him in more action next week. His 17-yard run was beast mode-like, and he deserves more attention from the Niners’ front office.
At first, I was worried that Drake Jackson was buried with the third-team defensive line, but it’s clear his talent consistently flashes. Jackson was brute against the run and made a near interception after recovering from being blocked on a screenplay. The rookie will make some impact plays this year and wouldn’t doubt if he became a starter during the season.
Tarvarius Moore and George Odum
My worry about the safety position has been prominent through the offseason and is now extremely concerning with the thought of Jimmie Ward missing Week 1. Tarvarius Moore looked springy after getting beat for a touchdown last week. Moore flew around early in the game, making some tackles near the line of scrimmage.
George Odum is continuing to get comfortable at safety. His interception stopped a Vikings drive where quarterback Kellen Mond was able to slice DeMeco Ryans’ zone coverage. The interception is great to see after the Niners ranked 26th in taking the ball out of the air last year.
Willie Snead’s third-down catch in the third quarter kept the Niners’ lone touchdown drive alive. The veteran ran sharp routes and returned three punts without error. He looks to be a viable backup to Ray-Ray McCloud as a return specialist. Snead, entering his eighth year in the NFL, could see himself making the team with another solid performance.
Kickers never get the love unless they make a game-winning kick or carried the scoring for a stagnant offense. Robbie was “as good as Gould” as he went 3/3 for field goals. The Vikings play in a dome, so the 49-yarder may seem normal to many, but it’s good to see that one of the highest-paid kickers still has it.
Samuel Womack’s box score may not scream “this player shinned.” However, his fumble recovery and pursuit against a screen on third down stood out to me. I questioned Womack’s run defense, but his will to put his nose in the fire was all I needed to see. The release of Darqueze Dennard likely leads to Womack starting at nickel cornerback.
I tried to stay away from negativity, but Trey Sermon’s drop on fourth down has resembled his 49er tenure. Ty Davis-Price ran with a purpose, but I think Mason looked the best.
The TE3 competition will come down to consistency; which one of these tight ends can do it at a high level every play?
Odum and Moore are getting vital game reps with the thought of Ward possibly being out. Let’s hope they continue to hold up in coverage.