15 Aug 49ers Preseason Week 1: The Positives & Negatives
The highly anticipated first preseason game for the San Francisco 49ers arrived and yes, Trey Lance, the present and future of this franchise made his debut. I’ve been a fan of this team for over a decade and I haven’t seen a preseason game so eagerly anticipated. It was lovely and refreshing to see fans in the stadium, and they created an electric atmosphere. Below I’m going to list the positives and the negatives I noticed throughout the game and what it means for the team moving forward into a crucial week of joint practices with the Los Angeles Chargers.
The obvious one: Quarterback, Trey Lance
While his stat line doesn’t look impressive, we saw glimpses of why people are so excited about this talented rookie. His 80-yard touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield after being sacked on his previous drive was absolutely amazing.
He showed signs that this game won’t overwhelm him — working through his reads, hitting receivers, who had some drops (more on that later). I thought he looked poised and he never tried to operate outside of the offense — which Kyle Shanahan will love especially since he primarily worked with backup offensive linemen. Lance made some bad decisions and held the ball a tick to long at times, but it’s all part of the growing process. Let’s also not forget this kid has not played in front of fans in over a year!
Key showed up as a pass-rusher and to my surprise he was stout against the run — chasing down plays from behind. If the 49ers can unlock his obvious and unlimited potential, what a rotational piece to add to a group containing Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford and Samson Ebukam.
Hufanga was everywhere making plays, he did it on special teams and made some outstanding open field tackles. The 49ers may have a player in this 5th-round safety, as his energy and enthusiasm will help improve the special teams unit this season at a minimum.
While Garoppolo only played one series, I thought he looked happy, healthy and sharp. What stood out to me the most was how genuinely happy he was for his teammates Lance and Sherfield on their big connection for a touchdown, we’ve seen many of these quarterback competition/mentorship situations play out badly before (including the one Jimmy himself was in only a few years ago), but it seems like the 49ers looker room is one of the best in the league headed by their veteran quarterback Garoppolo.
With highly-drafted offensive linemen struggling, it was surprisingly enjoyable watching a young second-year player take a step forward. McKivitz was solid in pass-protection and doing a good job run-blocking. The offensive line was bad in general but he can hold his head high after the first preseason game. This bodes well for him making the final 53-man roster.
Deommodore Lenoir CB, Elijah Sullivan LB, Eddie Yarborough DE, Jared Mayden S, Juan Jennings WR.
By far the biggest disappointment of the game was Richie James. He had multiple drops, one extremely bad one on a great throw from Trey Lance. He looked disinterested and sometimes he didn’t make enough of a attempt to snags passes. He struggled on special teams as well, which leads me to believe there’s no chance he makes the final 53-man roster.
Sometimes all we want to see is a highly-drafted player show they’re even a tiny bit better than their counterparts, and we haven’t seen that from Banks. He gave up the most pressures by any offensive lineman and he got beat for a sack on Lance. As of right now, if the 49ers needed to win a game I think he’d be behind Dan Brunskill and Colton McKivitz to start at right guard. I won’t say hit the panic button just yet but we’re mighty close to that point. Banks did leave the game with what appeared to be a right shoulder injury. which will keep him out for 2-3 weeks reportedly.
Personally, I’ve felt like special teams has been a massive problem for this team for a while. However, last night showed just how bad this unit is for the 49ers. Horrible punts from Mitch Wishnowsky, terrible returns from Richie James and a dreadful attempt from Travis Benjamin did not help calm worries about the unit heading into the new season. Hopefully the revision of last night’s tape can help clean up some mistakes and this unit can at the very least be average moving forward.
Overall, it was a good outing for the 49ers. It felt amazing watching actual football again! The fans in attendance were unbelievable and their energy and passion for this team makes me excited for the upcoming season. Oh yes, the players too — specifically Trey Lance!
Featured photo credit: Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group