49ers Football is back! As the game unfolded, there were definitely expectations for the starters and what it ultimately boils down to is, everyone who cheers for the 49ers wants to see quality football and a win.
Last Saturday’s game did not feature a high-powered offense or a stifling defense, but that was not the goal. Coach Jim Tomsula did not game plan to beat the Texans, but rather, was looking to evaluate the second and third strings.
Here are three observations or take-aways from the first preseason game:
1) The Defensive Line is deep
While the linebackers looked sketchy, (bare in mind, the starters did not play), the defensive line looks like it should be good. Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams and Quinton Dial played well and the standout of the day was Mike Purcell.
According to Pro Football Focus, Purcell finished with a stellar +6.2 overall grade and a +5.0 grade against the run (updated according to PFF’s Jeff Deeney), which, if he builds on this performance, could land him a spot on the 53 man roster.
Late in the first quarter, the defensive line had a goal line stand that saw the Texans try 6 times to get in the endzone from the 49ers’ 1 yard line without success.
Tank Carradine and Arik Armstead were a bit underwhelming overall, but it’s early.
Going into the season, especially once Darnell Dockett joins the squad, the defensive line should be able to anchor this defense.
2) The Running Back corps is deep
Carlos Hyde saw limited action but he looks more than capable of being the type of back that San Francisco needs to make the running game great again.
While Reggie Bush and Kendall Hunter did not play, Mike Davis and the rugby star Jarryd Hayne saw action and were impressive.
Hayne stole the show with his big 53-yard scamper. Once he gets into open space, he is a natural runner and has very good balance.
Hyde, Davis, Bush and Bruce Miller are locks to make the roster, making it an interesting battle between Hayne and Hunter for the final spot…..stay tuned.
3) The Offensive line is shaky, but there is hope
The left side of the line is solid with Joe Staley and Alex Boone, but the rest of the line is in flux, especially for the start of the season.
Once Daniel Kilgore returns, there should be no worries at center, but it’s uncertain as to when that will be. Joe Looney appears to be the favorite to fill in until then and did receive a +0.8 rating in Saturday’s game.
Erik Pears is almost a lock to be the starting right tackle for Week 1, but there is unrest among Niner fans as to his effectiveness. At this point, we’re still in ‘wait and see’ mode.
Right guard is where the battle is taking place. Marcus Martin played 12 snaps at right guard (another 8 at center) and received a -2.0 grade for the day.
What was promising was Brandon Thomas’ +2.2 rating at right guard. Thomas was drafted in the 3rd round last year, but due to his ACL injury he suffered in April 2014. It is very possible that he could end up being the steal that many think he will be, but at this point, we’re hoping he continues to build on this performance.
Their next game is Sunday night against Dallas at Levi Stadium. There are more expectations for the first stringers to do a little more but all eyes will be all facets of the team to make strides.