49ers: Showed Promise and Took Steps in the Right Direction

The San Francisco 49ers played their third preseason game, second on the road, last Sunday night at U.S. Bank Stadium against the Minnesota Vikings. The 49ers showed promise and took steps in the right direction while falling short in a nail biter at the hands of the Vikings 32 to 31. Niners Live provides an in-depth post-game summary of last night’s events.

 

Defense, the Highlights with Extreme Violence

  • Eric Reid was emulating his version of Seattle Seahawk’s enforcer strong safety Kam Chancellor’s role with “Extreme Violence” by accounting for two total tackles, one of which was solo while filling running lanes (in the box) and making vicious open field hits. Reid took a kneel down during the national anthem
  • Reuben Foster led both teams in tackles with eight, five coming solo and one tackle for a loss. Foster’s hard hitting style was on full display last Sunday night.
  • DeForest Buckner was back in action and was active and productive accounting for three tackles total, two coming solo and one tackle for a loss.
  • Elvis Dumervil–  the veteran pass-rusher showed up and had his best game up to date. He accounted for two tackles, one being solo, one sack, one tackle for loss and a QB hit.
  • D.J. Jones was productive and disruptive accounting for three total tackles all solo and a sack.
  • Arik Armstead had one solo tackle total, one sack, one tackle for loss and two QB hits. He played with vengeance, conviction, violence, and passion.
  • Jaquiski Tartt got the start in place of Jimmie Ward and over Lorenzo James and didn’t disappoint. He helped lead a shut out in the first half, held the Vike’s running game under 3.0 yards a carry and only 134 yards of passing. Tartt finished the night with three tackles, two being solo with one QB hit.
  • NaVorro Bowman had four total tackles, two being solo and was very active and dominate/presence wise.
  • Dontae Johnson was very solid two weeks in a row and looks like he has solidified the # 2 corner back position. He accounted for two solo tackles total and Sam Bradford only passed for 134 yards on his watch.
  • Rashard Robinson had one solo tackle and one pass defended. He also defended a deep pass with excellent coverage and used the sideline as his ally. Bradford only passed for 134 yards on his watch.
  • Eli Harold got the start at Sam over Ahmad Brooks who was recently released. The only stat of the night came on a QB hit. However, on his watch, the 49ers defense held the running game of the Vikes under 3.0 yards a carry and under 30 yards while notching three sacks on Bradford and only allowing 134 yards of passing. Eli was active and brought consistent pressure and was stout at setting the edge/point of attack.
  • Ronald Blair III had one solo tackle total which came as he stopped the ball carrier dead in his tracks for a five-yard loss behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Austin Calitro: Yes, he had a mixed bag of reviews, maybe at times in coverage with angles, etc. But you know what? #47 again makes you notice him. He accounted for two solo tackles total and one QB hit as he’s always around the ball and active playing with passion/determination. The Charger’s game is big for him.
  • Tank Carradine had just one solo tackle. However, as a starting six technique/end (elite level per defensive coordinator Robert Saleh), he did his job. The 49ers’ defense held the running game of the Vikes under 3.0 yards a carry and under 30 yards while notching three sacks on Bradford and only allowing 134 yards of passing in the first half.
  • K’Waun Williams has been under the radar/good since he’s been added to this secondary. His tight coverage and ability to blitz/tackle in open space is a treat to watch. He accounted for two tackles with one being solo.
  • Lorenzo Jerome wasn’t perfect, but he did have four tackles total, of which three were solo. 
  • Earl Mitchell didn’t show up in the stat sheets, but when you hold a running game to under 3.0 yards a carry and under 30 yards in the first half you’ve done your job while at the same time pushing the pocket and making Bradford feel uncomfortable the whole night. He was active, relentless, and physical at the point of attack. 
  • Chris Dwightstone Jones was a top reserve in the first half and played a role in “Please see Earl Mitchell above”, and he had one solo tackle total.

Defense, the Lowlights

  •  Ahkello Witherspoon had four total tackles, all solo, and at every bit of 6′ 3” didn’t register a single (PD) pass defended on the night. He was flagged for pass interference and gave up at least four catches on the night and took a bad angle on a run play as he should have contained the play more to the outside. At times he got shook out of his shoes by wide receivers; don’t be surprised if he doesn’t end up on the inactive list on Sundays. 
  • Aaron Lynch had one stat on the night: a QB hit. Playing against second and third stringers, Lynch didn’t do anything to convince anyone watching the game that his roster spot is safe and sound, the end.
  • Ray-Ray Armstrong makes the list this week because he wasn’t the ‘all over the field Ray-Ray’ flashing the speed, athleticism and coverage skills at will we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the past. His preseason has been up and down. He accounted for two tackles total; one being solo. He also was playing on a unit that gave up 17 points in the third quarter.
  • Shayne Skov: didn’t see him, and he’s headed to the cutting line of being dropped by the team.
  • Dekoda Watson wasn’t his normal tone setting self, nor was his presence felt like in previous games on defense or special teams. He had zero stats on the night and had an offsides penalty in the first half.
  • Pita Taumoepenu: production wise he fell off this week, not recording a single stat or making his presence known, not a good look when you’re trying to make the 53-man roster.
  • Leger Douzable had one solo tackle and one QB hit and was part of giving up 32 points in the second half. His production was way down from last week and he didn’t do anything to help his cause for a roster spot this week.
  • Vinnie Sunseri had three tackles, all solo, and a pass defended. However, he gave up big plays and a touchdown in the second half and helped allow 32 points to be scored in the second half.
  • Adrian Colbert didn’t record a single stat on the night and had no presence (if he even played in the game — that’s how quiet he was).
  • Don Jones didn’t record a single stat on the night.
  • Solomon Thomas, the prize #3 overall pick in the draft, didn’t record a single tackle or sack or QB hit and wasn’t as active as week one versus the Kansas City Chiefs. He contributed, but not to the level expected of him.
  • Asa Jackson, #31, recorded two tackles, both solo, and one pass defended. He gave up big plays all night and is a liability on the field. He’s getting cut, surely.
  • Keith Reaser brought a mixed bag of reviews. He had six solo tackles total and one pass defended. He had his moments of contested balls defended, solid coverage at times, and at other times, he gave up key catches on key drives. But the pass interference call in the end zone that set up the game winning two point conversion is what lands him on this list.  
  • Sen’Derrick Marks didn’t record a single stat in 21 snaps after just recently signing with the team.
  • Quinton Dial didn’t record a single stat on the night and allowed the 6th round pick Jones to outshine him (now he’s surely fighting for a roster spot) against the L.A. Chargers this Thursday (stats courtesy of ESPN.com).

Defensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers like last week didn’t force any turnovers, losing that battle 1-0 in favor of Minnesota. The defense allowed 374 yards of total offense on 67 plays mostly coming in the second half. The Vikings went 4 of 12 on first down but managed a whopping (25) first downs in the game (15) passing, (5) rushing, (5) by way of penalties. The 49ers defense held quarterback Sam Bradford in check on the night with him only passing for 134 yards at 6.4 yards per pass play and zero touchdowns.

Notes: The pass defense did give up 324 yards passing but that mostly came in the second half. You can tell the defensive intensity was turned up a notch by the players and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh which was evident by shutting out the Vikes offense in the first half and a 3 and out on the first series.

The defense sacked Bradford three times and four overall on the night. The defense was on their game this week against the run holding running back’s Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook in check and allowing only 50 yards on 16 carries at 3.1 yards a pop and one rushing TD.

Stats that jump out at you:  The defense had eight QB hits in the game. Can you say violent disruptors, anyone? Also, didn’t allow a score in the first half by the first team offense of Minnesota. However, did give up 32 points in the second half and a game winning two point conversion run by quarterback Taylor Heinicke.

Jimmie Ward (Eraser) fresh off pup was held out of the game ( per  Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).

Offense, the Highlights

  • Pierre Garcon  caught six passes for 64 yards on seven targets while averaging 10.7 yards per catch.
  • Brian Hoyer in the first half was on the money and on fire he went 12 for 17 for 176 yards at 10.4 yards per pass play and two touchdowns (46 yards being his longest TD pass to Marquise Goodwin) while adding a quarterback rating of 143.3
  • Raheem Mostert was probably the star of the game all around that is. He accounted for four carries for 26 yards at an average of 6.5 yards per rush and one rushing TD. Operation dual threat was not finished he added two catches for 104 yards (87 being his longest all effort) on two targets for one passing TD.
  • Carlos Hyde catching wise he scored on a 24-yard pass from Hoyer and had three catches total for 45 yards at 15.0 yards per catch on three targets.
  • Matt Brieda had seven rushes for 29 yards at 4.1 yards per rush and one catch for five yards.
  • Kyle Juszczyk had one catch for 16 yards.
  • Trent Taylor returned one punt for ten yards and three catches for 36 yards while averaging 12.0 yards a catch on three targets (not on the bubble).
  • Marquise Goodwin caught one bomb from Hoyer for 46 yards and a TD on two targets. 
  • Victor Bolden Jr. had one return for 28 yards and no catches still in the driver seat with making the roster.
  • The entire offensive line makes this list: The 49ers gave up only two sacks on the night and the pass protection was good. Joe Staley left with a minor knee injury.

 Offense, the Lowlights

  • C.J. Beathard completed 7 out of 13 passes for 159 yards at 12.2 yards per pass play with one touchdown and one interception while generating a quarterback rating of 91.5. He was sacked once, 87 yards of his 159 came from a dump off pass to Mostert that help inflates his numbers over all Sunday evening he looked like a rookie, indeed.
  • Matt Barkley completed two passes for 19 yards at 9.5 yards per pass play, and had no touchdowns, no interceptions while generating a quarterback rating of 106.2 (still on the bubble).
  • Carlos Hyde had seven carries for 19 yards for a 2.7 yard a carry average (the offensive line has to take some blame here and the TE’s).
  • Jeremy Kerley had no stats on the night from special teams or offense the one ball that was thrown his way was uncatchable.
  • DeAndre Smelter didn’t get a pass thrown his way and now is surely on the outside looking in to make this 53-man roster.
  • Kendrick Bourne one catch for eight yards on the night (on the bubble).
  • Aldrick Robinson no stats on the night (not on the bubble).
  • Garrett Celek had no catches, or balls thrown his way. In fact, he didn’t play (on the bubble).
  • Kapri Bibbs didn’t see any action he’s getting cut wasted draft pick via trade from Denver. 
  • Joe Williams had seven carries for 16 yards for a 2.3 yard a carry average (see Hyde) and one catch for 11 yards. He should be third on the depth chart base on Mostert’s performance over the last two weeks.
  • Tim Hightower didn’t see any action he’s getting cut. Note: Mostert has made you expendable.
  •  Louis Murphy also coughed up a fumble by not securing the ball which led to an interception in the stat column for C. J. Beathard. He accounted for one catch for 13 yards on three targets.
  • The entire offensive line makes this list: The 49ers rush for 21 yards at 2.6 yards a pop on eight carries in the first half and ended with 91 yards at 3.5 yards a carry and a TD.
  • The entire tight end group makes this list: For not doing their part in the running game (blocking wise) see above rushing stats (Blake Bell) and this group was targeted at least once each and had zero catches, featuring Vance McDonald , George Kittle , and Logan Paulsen.
  • Kyle Juszczyk the running game was non-existent (blocking wise).

Offensive Summary Breakdown

The 49ers had 19 first downs (5) rushing, (14) passing and 50% on third down going 6 for 12. The team ran 60 plays for 431 yards which 340 of that came through the air an improvement from last week’s 45 plays for 243 total yards against Denver. The time of possession was almost dead even SF 29:54 and Min 30:06. Brian Hoyer silence some critics this week with his stellar performance as seen in the offensive highlights above.

The offensive line only gave up two sacks on the night. However, this unit in the first half managed under three yards a carry and finished with a 3.5 average and 91 yards total on the ground that’s not going to get it done on Sunday. After the 49ers scored at 14:55 to go up 14-0 on the Vikes in the second quarter on a 24-yard pass from Hoyer and catch from Hyde the offense seemed to become stagnant and left points and sustained drives on the field something that has to improve come week one versus the Cam Newton led Carolina Panthers (summary stats courtesy of ESPN.com).

The 49ers took steps in the right direction

Week one had a mixed bag of reviews, week two was still a work in progress and in week three the 49ers took a step in the right direction. That step in the right direction saw the 49ers come out and play with energy, passion, and excitement as they jump on the Vikings early in explosive fashion with a deep pass to Goodwin, Hoyer in a snap shot, look like a playoff caliber quarterback that provided; command of Kyle Shanahan’s offense, accuracy, leadership and big play capabilities. Garcon look as pre-advertise a strong veteran who can move the chains at will, catching everything in sight, with still having a burst in his tank. The offensive line gave up two sacks on the night which the pass blocking continues to provide an array of optimism. However, the run blocking the last two weeks is another story as aforementioned. 

The first string defense and some top reserves pitch a shutout in the first half and corralled the Vikes dink and dunk passing offense along with their heavily relied on running game that featured Cook and Murray. The 49ers did get to the quarterback this week with extreme violence. However, as a defense needs to be better in the turnover department and holding on to leads a problem that plagued the team under former head coach Chip Kelly in 2016.

Special teams had its poorest performance of the preseason by giving up 159 yards of return yards and 108 yards and a touchdown coming in the third quarter to Jerick McKinnon . Nick Rose nailing a 55-yard attempt with plenty of room to spare and Brad Pinion remained solid with an average of 44.6 yards per average.

Important to note: The 49ers for the third straight week had penalty issues, accumulating 9-75 yards again undisciplined.

Moving forward the 49ers can build on this positive momentum heading into week one against the Carolina Panthers. Why jump the L.A Chargers? Thursday’s game is expected to be a battle of the backups, the second and third string battling for roles and roster spots.  

49er updates, interviews and news:

Post game quotes,  Hoyer recaps his playfull highlights, and here’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan had to say about last night’s performance (via the team’s website).

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims .