5 Biggest Takeaways from San Francisco 49ers' 2nd Preseason Game
In the San Francisco 49ers' 15-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs Friday night, both strengths and weaknesses were revealed on both sides of the ball. The defense stood strong, the offense punched it in when it mattered, and the special teams took one step forward and two steps back.
With the preseason now halfway over, it’s time to take a look at what the 49ers have shown so far and what might be in their future.
With the starters playing very limited minutes once again—one series for many of them—our conclusions are by no means final. In fact, they've barely begun. With that in mind, let's take a look at the five biggest takeaways from the 49ers second preseason game, and what they might mean going forward.
30 Is the New 25 for Frank Gore
Death, taxes and Frank Gore.
Those are the surest of things in life. Even with Gore hitting the ominous age of 30, there is no sign of slowing down for the 49ers mainstay.
Much has been made about the rising age of Gore, questions which I addressed earlier here. What we saw Friday night should put an end to those.
Just like the rest of the 49ers’ key starters, Gore played just the first series of the game. And he did the most with his opportunities. Finishing with 54 yards on just two carries, the vision that he has always possessed appears to remain intact.
Gore has never been a player who relies on sheer speed or power. His gifts, however, are just as dangerous. He’s as shifty as any back in the league, and his ability to stop and cut on a dime also ranks among the elite.
Any concerns over Gore should be put to rest. The man looked healthy, he looked dynamic, and he looked ready to once again carry the brunt of the 49ers offense.
The Secondary Looks Improved
As great as the San Francisco defense looked on paper last season, the secondary was clearly the Achilles heel of the unit. That looks to no longer be the case.
Perrish Cox continued to distinguish himself on the field, proving to be an asset both as a returner and in the secondary. His two sacks, two tackles and his lone pass defended showed the strides he has made. He could be in for some extra playing time.
Veterans Craig Dahl and Nnamdi Asomugha didn’t register much on the stat sheet in their limited minutes, but their effects were felt. Dahl consistently found himself near the ball, and Asomugha showed his ability to get to the quarterback from the outside.
Rookie Eric Reid didn’t stuff the stat sheet either, but it’s safe to say that the 49ers found themselves a player. After registering six total tackles in Game 1, he showed his strength in coverage during this contest. He defended one pass in limited action.
The competition for playing time in the secondary will be fierce, especially when factoring in Carlos Rogers and Donte Whitner. Good competition is never a bad thing, though. Look for the secondary to be much improved this season.
Colt McCoy Will Win the Backup Job
This really has a lot more to do with the ineffectiveness of Scott Tolzien and the inexperience of B.J. Daniels than anything Colt McCoy has done so far. Quite simply, there is no place in the NFL for Tolzien. Daniels is a rookie, so we’ll keep the verdict on him open. He did lead a nice go-ahead drive late in the fourth quarter to secure the lead.
McCoy didn’t play much in the 49ers' second preseason game and only posted a quarterback rating of 28.5, but he showed glimpses of what could make him a dangerous backup.
The interception he threw wasn’t pretty, a duck well short of the intended receiver. His legs, however, were more than effective.
If the NFL has shown us anything recently, athletic quarterbacks who can extend a play with their mobility can have a place in the league. McCoy is just that.
McCoy took off four times during his brief stint on the field, racking up 37 yards in the process. That ability to pick up necessary first downs with his legs is what makes him a valuable asset.
With the passing abilities of all the backup contenders close to being equal, the most dynamic man will win the job. And so far, that’s been McCoy. We’ll give Daniels another year.
Special Teams Remains an Issue
Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: The 49ers special teams shot themselves in the foot.
The demise of the 49ers in each of the last two seasons has come hand in hand with underwhelming performances from their special teams units. It doesn’t look like they’ve rectified those problems completely.
Whether it was silly penalties, bad kickoff coverage or an inability to identify recoverable punts, it was not their best day to say the least. The 104-yard touchdown return by Quintin Demps is sure to elicit unwanted flashbacks of one Jacoby Jones.
Special teams coach Brad Seely will need to make some adjustments if his unit is to be a positive factor this season.
Not all was lost, however, as newly signed kicker Phil Dawson converted all three of his attempts, two of which came from 55 yards. A blocked punt by Parys Haralson did a little more to alleviate the sting.
That being said, the progression of the special teams—the kickoff unit in particular—should be monitored going forward.
The Defense Could Be Even Better Than Last Season
Spoilers: The 49ers defense is good.
Andy Reid and Alex Smith were supposed to come in and reinvigorate the Chiefs offense. Unfortunately for them, the 49ers came to town. And with their sights set on their former quarterback, the Chiefs offense struggled (to put it lightly).
Smith was only able to complete seven of his 16 passes and was sacked three times. While drops by his receivers and hiccups by his offensive line didn’t help, the tenacity of the defense was the ultimate factor.
In total, San Francisco allowed just 170 yards of total offense—98 through the air and 72 on the ground—all while accumulating seven sacks. Their second- and third-string defenders stymied the first-team offense of the Chiefs throughout the entire first half. It was a dominant performance.
While the starters didn’t play much, we already know what we’re getting from them. The depth that the second and third unit showed, however, was what we wanted to see. As good as it was last season, the defense could prove to be even better this year.