The San Francisco 49ers lost the most awkward upset in preseason history on Sunday, losing to the Minnesota Vikings, 32-31. Thankfully, the game didn’t feel as close as the score lets on. Had the Vikings not scored on each of their last 4 drives, it would look much more like a blowout. Let’s take a look at the positives as well as some of the negatives and what can we potentially translate to the regular season.
Kyle Shanahan: Offensive Messiah
To say that the first team offense looked different compared to Week 1 and 2 of preseason would surely be considered an understatement by most. The 49ers came out and immediately established their dominance with an easy drive that ended with a 46-yard touchdown pass from QB Brian Hoyer to WR Marquise Goodwin. They then followed that up early in the 2nd quarter with a 24-yard pass to RB Carlos Hyde for a touchdown.
This is the kind of production 49ers fans have wanted for years. While the scores themselves were things of beauty, the most important aspect to me was how calm the players looked while executing these drives. It’s obvious that the team will have some growing pains even up through their bye week as the offense and defense continue to become more acquainted with their respective schemes, but seeing drives not just in the red zone but drives that end in touchdowns is a VERY good sign, especially as Week 3 of preseason is considered the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season.
Saleh is FO5T6R-ing a MON5T3R of a defense
If the game itself was considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season, it can also be considered a coming out party for LB Reuben Foster. With one play he let it be known that every team that passed on him made a huge mistake. To go from the middle of the field next to LB NaVorro Bowman, read out the quick pass to the RB in the flat, react to it almost instantaneously after the ball was snapped, and run over to tackle the RB for a loss is the type of ferocity and aggressive defensive play fans have missed for the last few years as the roster was depleted with free agency departures, draft busts and player retirements.
While it’s easy to be impressed with Foster's motor, it’s important for fans to pump the brakes a bit. Foster's instincts and athleticism were never in doubt. The true test will be if he can stay healthy for the whole of the regular season. It’s easy to see his sprint, but the season is a marathon.
Mostert with the Mostest
RB Raheem Mostert had himself a game. Shanahan and the rest of the coaching staff gave him an opportunity to see what he can do beyond special teams and he made the most out of every snap he was in. Mostert ended the game with 4 carries for 26 yards (6.5 yards per carry), and 2 catches for 104 yards. Obviously the majority of that last number came on a short pass from QB C.J. Beathard that Mostert turned into an 87 yard touchdown pass. While I personally was not predicting Mostert to make the final 53-man roster, if he shows that kind of tenacity and playmaking ability in the final preseason game, he may force the 49ers to keep a fifth back (Hyde, Breida, Williams, Moster, Juszczyk) and force the team to place WR Aldrick Robinson or WR Kendrick Bourne on waivers and gamble on them making the practice squad. While that may not be the best move in the long run (I personally don’t foresee either of them clearing waivers, especially with the recent WR injuries around the league) but Lynch and Shanahan need to build the best roster they can. That means keeping the players who make the most of their snaps.
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