Football has officially returned, and the San Francisco 49ers kicked off their preseason by facing the Raiders in Las Vegas. The game followed two joint practices between the teams earlier in the week. While many projected starters for the 49ers participated in practice, most of the first-team offense and defense did not play in the preseason opener. The game showcased younger players, draft picks, newcomers, and undrafted additions to the team.
Coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned, “We got two good practices against them. I always like when we can do that, and we practiced really hard the second day with the ones so we don’t have to dress any of them today.”
Here are six key takeaways from the matchup:
- Quarterback Competition Continues: Third-year quarterback Trey Lance started the game and showed growth as the contest progressed. He led the team on a touchdown drive, connecting with tight end Ross Dwelley for a score. Lance displayed his arm strength and decision-making throughout the game, completing 10-of-15 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.
- Sam Darnold’s Performance: Quarterback Sam Darnold took over in the second half, leading the team into Raiders territory on multiple drives. Despite his efforts, the scoring opportunities fell short due to turnovers and a missed field goal. Darnold’s performance highlighted his adaptability and skill in challenging circumstances.
- Defensive Plays: Defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell, a former first-round pick, made an impact by recording a sack. Ferrell’s presence on the defensive line disrupted the Raiders’ offensive rhythm, showcasing his ability to contribute to the team’s defense.
- Ambry Thomas Shines: Cornerback Ambry Thomas stood out with impressive pass breakups and a key stop on fourth down. Thomas’ strong performance demonstrated his recovery from injury and his determination to contribute to the team’s success.
- Rookie Kicker’s Debut: Rookie kicker Jake Moody made his NFL debut, attempting extra points and field goals. Despite missing two long-range field goals, Moody‘s potential and practice performance were acknowledged by Coach Shanahan.
- Special Teams and Turnovers: Wide receiver Ronnie Bell showcased his potential as a punt returner, while the team faced challenges in handling turnovers. The Raiders capitalized on turnovers, leading to points and impacting the final score.
Overall, the preseason opener provided valuable experience for young players and newcomers to the 49ers. The team’s performance highlighted areas of strength and improvement as they prepare for the upcoming season.