Well that was one ugly football game.
After holding their own in this week’s joint practices with the Denver Broncos, the San Francisco 49ers committed five turnovers and 11 penalties, bringing their preseason penalty total to 28. There’s work to be done.
“That whole game was concerning,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “You start out the first half with four turnovers. The penalties, again, I have to go in and look at. It seemed like there were a bunch on both sides. I know that we get a lot called in the preseason. I’ve got to go find out about all of them. The ones that were disappointing were the pre-snap penalties. Those are ones that I know we can for sure do something about. But, five turnovers in a game, four turnovers in the first half. Struggling to run the ball there too, just looking throughout the game. It’s really tough to win when you put your team in that situation.”
The first-team offense was the area of most concern, as they had four of the five turnovers, including a very odd Brian Hoyer fumble in which he seemed to just lose track of the ball as he went back to throw.
“I was getting ready to rip it to [Jeremy] Kerley,” Hoyer said. “He had a double-move route, and I thought he was going to win. I went to throw it. And I was going to throw it hard, and literally, I think my arm even went forward and I was looking around, ‘What happened to the ball?'”
I can tell you what happened to it. It ended up on the ground where Denver defensive lineman Shelby Harris was waiting for it. These things happen, though Hoyer said it’s never happened to him in a game. All in all, Hoyer went eight for 11 for 89 yards, an interceptions (which wasn’t really his fault), and the fumble.
On top of the turnovers and the penalties, the 49er run game was basically non-existent with 19 carries for 37 yards.
“We’re just hurting ourselves, and we can’t keep doing things preventing us from taking the next step,” said Hoyer. He also said this is the first time this team has faced adversity and it’s how they recover that will be telling. That is the truth.
That being said, it wasn’t all bad, so let’s take a look at a few of the bright spots.
The Rookies from Iowa
Going in as QB2 tonight, rookie C.J. Beathard continued to make the case that he should hold that title. Beathard was seven of 12 for 110 yards and a touchdown.
That touchdown was to his college teammate and former roommate, tight end George Kittle. On a short pass from his quarterback, Kittle came up with a 29-yard score after running over one defender and avoiding another. And the state of Iowa rejoiced, probably.
Beathard has a quarterback rating of 125 in his first two games. That’s good, but there’s always room for improvement.
“He did a solid job,” said Shanahan. “It was tough to get anyone in rhythm. We didn’t stay on the field very long. It was nice that he was able to hit Kittle on the flat on that keeper on the first series and it seemed like Kittle made a hell of a play down the sidelines. I lost at the end so I didn’t see exactly how he finished it. From what I saw of Beathard, he did a solid job. There’s a couple third downs I thought he missed, but it was hard to get anyone in a rhythm that game. I think under the circumstances, he did solid.”
That 49er Defense
Eric Reid had a tremendous first quarter in which he was all over the field. He had five solo tackles and six totals, and he was really like a one-man wrecking crew out there. He’s said before that this system plays to his strengths, and it has been clear it does over the last couple of weeks.
After an unfortunate fumble on a punt return in which he let the ball hit him, Jaquiski Tartt put together a very impressive game. The safety had six solo tackles, seven total tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss. Dare I say, Sweet Tartt. Sorry, I had to do it.
Rookie linebacker Pita Taumoepenu also had a sack and two total tackles.
In reality, defense was not the problem. When your offense commits, four turnovers, there’s really only so much you can do.
“I thought the defense did a pretty good job considering that we had 27 points off turnovers,” said Shanahan. “So, we put them in some very tough situations…[C]onsidering the situation we put them in, I’m not upset with the defense right now.”
Two games into the preseason and the 49ers have a lot to clean up. It’s a rebuild. Next up, the Minnesota Vikings.