Game two of the preseason looked better for the first-team offense. They were able to move the ball and even scored on their first possession. But who stood out among them? Who flashed, and whether it was for good reasons or not, who had the spotlight on them? First let us start with the bad.
Running back Joe Williams did not look good in this game at all. He hasn’t really looked good in the preseason as a whole, not for the pound-the-table draft pick he was supposed to become. He had eight rushes and managed only 18 yards. Yuck.
This was Williams’s time to shine. With both Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida on the mend, he needed to make a statement saying he belongs on this team. But unfortunately, the statement he did make may send him to the unemployment line come September 1. wWith the addition of Alfred Morris, the writing is on the wall for Williams.
The Offensive Line
My assignment was to pick three players, but the offensive line is one unit, so dammit I picked them. The running game still wasn’t great in this game, but was it the line, or inefficacy from the running back? Remember their top two runners were out for this game and the first team did not have much time to gel during the first preseason game. So, we may not know until Week 1 how the running game will look.
But the Great Wall of San Francisco looked good in the passing game. Jimmy Garoppolo has had nice clean pockets and time to go through his progressions. Josh Garnett made his debut in this game; he and Mike McGlinchey looked good on the front side. The line wasn’t perfect but it has been putrid for the past couple years, so it at least looks like they are heading in the right direction. After all we need to keep Jimmy looking handsome, don’t we?
Garnett was not the only one to finally make his debut as linebacker Fred Warner stepped foot onto the field for the first time in 2018. Warner was tied with Sheldon Day for most tackles in the game and had three solo tackles plus a fumble recovery. It was nice to see the third-round pick out of BYU finally make his debut. He played in just over half the defensive snaps and also played some on special teams. Warner, along with Reuben Foster, is looking to be the cornerstone of the 49ers defense not just this year, but in the future. So, his coming out and not falling flat on his face gives hope that the defense may be turning the corner towards a brighter future.
I want to leave you with a few questions as the team heads into dress rehearsal week against the Colts this Saturday. Williams will be out of this game with a rib injury; his fate is almost certain. But will the offensive line open holes for the running game? Will the pocket stay clean for Garoppolo? Can Warner build on the success he had from his first game into the next and so on? Is 2018 the year the 49ers empire rises and becomes the dominant force it once was?
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