San Francisco’s offense looks so much better with Mostert and the secondary is bolstered with a familiar face.
The 49ers faced the Raiders’ backups and dominated them. Trent Williams and the offensive line kept both quarterbacks clean for the most part. Raheem Mostert reintroduced himself to the well-built running back room, and the defensive backs are still holding up. Arden Key didn’t get the revenge game he hoped, although the defensive line showed out again.
We look at my five takeaways below.
Garoppolo shuts the lid on QB battle
Jimmy Garoppolo played limited snaps in comparison to Trey Lance, shutting the lid on the QB competition. But, Garoppolo made his timely throws and really showed some guts near the goalline.
Seeing Garoppolo dive into two defenders shows you how he exudes confidence. Garoppolo also targeted Trent Sherfield early, as he’s established himself as a consistent receiver.
Lance extending the play with his legs 3x in a row pic.twitter.com/xrqUUmAi8J
— Xavier Dixon (@GOOBVILLE) August 31, 2021
Trey Lance’s pocket movement improved. You saw him extend the play three times in a row before the half (above). It was good to see Lance work the two-minute drill well in back-to-back games.
Lance had some questionable throws for sure. After a few high passes, he often stared down his first read, and he was late or indecisive on a few plays. However, when Lance was “off,” his throws were still catchable.
That isn’t excusing Lance’s mechanics that are a work in progress. Lance will now be out a week with a broken finger. He needs all the practice reps he can get, and this hampers his devolvement. Do not expect Lance to play Week 1.
Mostert reminds the other running backs that this is his team
Mostert worried fans when he missed some time in OTAs with a minor knee injury—reminding us how Mostert’s season was ended last year with knee and ankle injuries.
Mostert impressed on the first drive. He looked explosive, physical, and refreshed all around. Good to see he is moving well. When Lance and Mostert come out in read-option looks, the defense will have to choose between them, which opens up big-play opportunities for both.
Elijah Mitchell introduced himself as a powerful man to Niner fans. Mitchell made the first tackle of the game on special teams and had a good kick return in the second quarter for a 45-yard return. He looks to be the strongest back on the team.
JaMycal Hasty has looked to jump Wayne Gallman for the last running back spot. Hasty showed explosiveness, good vision, and uncoachable footwork. Gallman was great in pass-protection in the previous two games but will head coach Kyle Shanahan value that over explosive plays? There is a solid case for keeping either running back.
Secondary looks remanned with a familiar face
Jaquiski Tartt made his presence felt today with three big third-down stops (shown below.) Tartt looked like one of the best players on the team Sunday. Unfortunately, he’s had bad luck with injuries as of late. Getting him back healthy means a lot for the defense.
3rd & Tartt pic.twitter.com/fokU2bNYtR
— Xavier Dixon (@GOOBVILLE) August 30, 2021
Talanoa Hufanga disguised himself blitzing well in one of the best defensive plays of the game. Hufanga has made a case to start over Tavon Wilson.
It was good for Deommodore Lenoir to get a few reps at nickel corner. Lenoir made a good play at nickel (above.) He drops in zone coverage, recognizes no one is around him and puts his foot in the ground to make the tackle. However, he gave up a chunk play when playing outside, in spite of being in a position to make a play on the ball. Lenoir didn’t get his head around.
Offensive line play improved
You have to take the offensive line play with a grain of salt since the Raiders didn’t play their starters. Regardless, San Francisco had no major blown assignments, a few low snaps, but at the end of the day, they did what they had to do.
While giving up no sacks, they were the anchor to gaining almost 300 yards on the ground. Shanahan’s play-action passes open up when the run game is going.
Shon Coleman is expected to miss some time, so Jaylon Moore could be the backup left tackle. Moore should be getting reps at right guard.
The defensive line continues to close the pocket on quarterbacks
Samson Ebukam and Arik Armstead both do a good job of closing the pocket (below.) Armstead may have had the better rep even though, Ebukam got the quarterback hit. Armstead gets past the right tackle with a double-swipe move and gets penetration on the QB while fighting through a chip block from the RB.
Ebukam getting to the quarterback in back-to-back games is a good sign. Especially when he even admitted that “I’m not a technician.” He showed good pursuit on the forced fumble by Marcell Harris. Ebukam is a high motor guy that meshes great with the other edge rushers.
Kentavius Street looked good. On the flip side, Zach Kerr had two beautiful plays (one above) that took over his shine. The other was one of the five defensive plays that stood out. It’s great that we don’t have to answer who will replace Maurice Hurst? now.
San Francisco should feel good going into Week 1. They return three corners from the last two seasons in Emmanuel Moseley, Jason Verrett, and K’Waun Williams. Lenoir’s rise through the preseason will equate to him contributing early.
Getting Tartt back on the field is key for the defense. And seeing Hufanga make plays every week means a lot for how he will play throughout the season. Expect him to earn a starter position in the regular season.
Mostert looks bigger and stronger. Having Moster lead this well-built running back group is essential because each back brings a different element. They still have speed at the RB position, but this group is more versatile than the 2019 unit.
Offensive and defensive lines go hand in hand. Both look to improve from last season, and moves were made in the offseason to do that. In addition, new 49ers in Ebukam and Alex Mack both look to make their imprints on the team this year.
Jalen Hurd is my honorable mention player. In his first game in over 700+ days, you could see the upside. The drops did not help his case, though. Hurd will make the team, but we will have to monitor if he can stay healthy.
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