The San Francisco 49ers suffered a loss in their third preseason game of the summer at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. A 17-23 score line represented a second loss in as many games but there were many positive developments for Kyle Shanahan to be pleased heading into the new season.

  • Alfred Morris sparkled on his 49ers debut.  Morris had 17 carries for 84 yards and looked liked he can be very useful to this offense. It appears Morris has probably played himself into a backup role at the running back spot with this performance. It takes a true professional to come in, work hard, learn some of the offense and shine all within a week of being acquired. He showed physicality and the ability to fall forward after tough runs, an unheralded quality that’s perhaps is missing from the current running back stable. His vision and ability to consistently get more what was blocked for him and then more sets him apart from the other running backs the 49ers currently have available
  • Marquise Goodwin looked sharp and continued his steady improvement from last season. I believe he is poised for a huge season, already proving to be a reliable target for Jimmy Garoppolo. His speed and improved route running will give many defensive backs nightmares this season, forcing opposition defensive coordinators to make concessions to his speed.
  • Pierre Garçon displayed his toughness and strong hands in this game. He made a few nice grabs and collected 30 yards after the catch on one particular accurate strike from Jimmy Garoppolo. A timely reminder that the veteran wideout will be crucial to this offense.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo won’t be a half season wonder league – defenses beware. He continues to do the right things and shows signs of improvement. The offense still looks slightly sluggish at intervals but Kyle Shanahan will ensure it improves. Expect him to target timing and execution of plays as well as the penalties that stagnates progress and kills drives. The red zone offense need to be more efficient, however, with Garoppolo culpable of a few risky throws where he failed to see underneath linebackers.
  • Josh Garnett impressed, and placed himself in great position to win the right guard spot.  I must admit my surprise at how impressive Garnett looked against Indianapolis – he competed and looked healthy. If he can remain healthy, Garnett should make the right guard position his own. He appears physically stronger and has more upside than Mike Person, his rival for the position. There were a few impressive plays which I have included below…

  • On the defensive side of the ball, Solomon Thomas is making noticeable strides as a pass rusher. His get off and technique both look improved from last season, and he should now be able to offer DeForest Buckner some welcome support. Thomas’ run defense has also taken a step forward. I expect to see a much faster and more productive Thomas this season…
  • Arik Armstead also performed at a high level, constantly devouring his opponent and redirecting plays. The question with Armstead is always his health, hopefully this is the year we have his dominance for the entirety of our season.
  • A nice developing story is Fred Warner – the rookie linebacker will be pushing for a starting spot soon. It appears he’s calling plays for the defense which is huge for a first year player. Warner had a nice run stop and was constantly flying to the football.
  • Brock Coyle is an underrated linebacker and an asset to this defense. He tackles well and rarely gets exposed by the opposition, offering a good depth option which teams looking to contend need. The 49ers have put themselves in a strong position to cope with Reuben Foster’s suspension early on in the season.
  • Ahkello Witherspoon looks unlikely to follow in the footsteps of Rashard Robinson. Having been burned by another second year corner who impressed and showed talent in their rookie season, it’s easy to be conservative with praise for Witherspoon. However, it appears the 49ers have struck gold this time. Coming into the draft, questions were raised about the former Colorado cornerback’s toughness, physicality and run defense. He has erased those doubts and displayed his quality versus the Colts. It appears he has returned for his second season with improvements in most aspects of his game…

 

  • Two Indianapolis Colts players also really caught my attention during the game. Cornerback Pierre Desir had a pass breakup on an attempted pass to Trent Taylor in the red zone and displayed some good coverage throughout the game. He would be a really nice fit in the 49ers’ scheme. Hassan Ridgeway also gave a competent account of himself on the Colts defensive line,stopping a few run plays and was a handful for the 49ers’ offensive line at every turn.