With the first preseason game in the books, there were some HUGE takeaways that we came across both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Guys made plays, guys missed plays, lots of catches, penalties, etc.
In this piece I’ll go over everything I felt was unique to the game and what stood out the most. A nice opening to the season for the 49ers, they would beat Dallas 17-9.
1) Dre Greenlaw’s immediate impact – The 5th-round pick out of Arkansas definitely made himself known within the 1st half of the game. (As I’m writing this Greenlaw makes an excellent tackle on special teams in the 4th quarter). A major point that I want to make clear is that Greenlaw tonight was EVERYWHERE the ball was. Outside of any clear passing plays deep, Greenlaw was in on every run play, short pass, etc. He’s going to make it clear that he’s a ballhawk, and with early signs of playmaking ability, the arrows are pointing up for Dre Greenlaw.
2) Jalen Hurd’s presence – Two TDs on the night? Hell, I’ll take it. Jalen Hurd has received touchdowns from both Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. His first TD from Mullens was a nice throw on the line where Hurd turned into an RB and bullied his defender into the end zone for a TD. His second TD, a simple fade in the end zone, where Hurd got great positioning on his DB. Hurd is showing toughness and poise in his first game, which was exactly what Lynch and Shanahan saw in the talented WR.
3) Average QB play – Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard are the clear cut fighters for the backup QB job behind Garoppolo. Neither QBs were relatively impressive. Mullens would finish the 1st half 11/17, 105 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. As for Beathard, his night has been 13/17, 141 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Although slightly better, Beathard’s throws weren’t exactly impressive, as most of them were a mix of under thrown balls and checkdowns. One takeaway regarding Mullens is that his arm strength looks more improved than last season, something that many saw as a weakness of his playing game.
4) Mitch Wishnowsky’s debut – The 4th-round pick made his debut tonight, making some impressive punts and average kickoffs. Wishnowsky’s longest punt on the night was 64 yards! Definitely a step up from punter Bradley Pinion. Outside of some good punts within the 20, Wishnowsky was exactly what we expected: a sturdy punter who can get provide good field position. However, I do want to note that his kicking off wasn’t too impressive. Only one touchback, the rest was returned.
5) Penalties galore – one notable problem last season was the amount of penalties committed (112 total). The 49ers have committed 18 penalties for 181 yards. EIGHTEEN PENALTIES. That is uncalled for. If this team wants to seriously contend, penalties need to come down. A slight overreaction considering it’s preseason week 1, however, this team needs to cut down on what was their ultimate achilles’ heel last season. Most of the penalties came on the offensive line, with a couple on the defense (including an Adrian Colbert ejection, which was an awful call).
Other quick notes:
1) Shon Coleman, Raheem Mostert, and D.J. Jones all left the game with notable injuries. Mostert with a concussion, Shon Coleman got carted off, and D.J. Jones left with a knee injury.
2) Outside of Jalen Hurd, the rest of the WRs were relatively lackluster. Deebo Samuel had a fantastic contested catch, however, not too much afterwards. He would finish with 2 catches for 61 yards, as well as a rush attempt for 14 yards.
3) Robbie Gould is still good as gold, finishing the game with 1 field goal for 53 yards and two converted XPs.
4) Austin Walter and Brandon Wilds, the two RB’s who played behind Mostert, weren’t too bad. However, they have a huge hill to climb if they even want a chance to make the 53-man roster.
5) Azeez Al-Shaair, know the name quickly. He stood out the most outside of Greenlaw with the LBs. Just like Greenlaw, Shaair is also an underrated player who has a good shot to make the 53.