The third preseason game is traditionally the “dress rehearsal” for the opening regular season game. Starters play into the second half and implement the closest thing to a real game plan. Here are the top takeaways from the 49ers 23-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Alfred Morris Ignites the Running Game
Alfred Morris was a training camp signing that did not set the world on fire. Due to injuries, Morris was the first running back up against the Colts and he did not disappoint. Through the first two preseason games, the 49ers rushing attack had been anemic. Morris flipped that script on its head with 17 rushes for 84 yards. He made a strong case to be included on the 53-man roster and provides a different running style than Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida.
Rookies Stand Out
Fred Warner and Richie James Jr. have made the most out of their first preseason and training camp. Warner showed out and gave 49ers’ fans a reason to be very excited about the linebacker pairing between him and Reuben Foster. The standout play for Warner was when he channeled his inner Patrick Willis and blew up a running play for a three-yard loss after rocketing into the backfield untouched. James followed up a disappointing game against the Texans by leading the 49ers with 3 catches for 65 yards. He proved yet again that he is a dangerous player by racking up lots of yards after the catch. James is stating his case to be the sixth wide receiver with some excellent special teams play, as well.
A Case of the Drops
Jimmy Garoppolo only completed 9 of 19 passes on Saturday but he was not helped at all by his receivers and tight ends. They combined for five drops on very catchable passes and killed multiple drives in the red zone. Cole Hikutini had a particularly bad drop in the end zone after a great pass from Garoppolo hit him in the hands. This is something that needs to be corrected before the games start to count.
Joshua Garnett Starting to Prove Draft Pedigree
Joshua Garnett started training camp with a knee injury that kept him out of multiple practices and the first preseason game. Since returning to the team, Garnett has proven to be a mauler in the run game. He is consistently getting to the second level and paved the way for Alfred Morris multiple times. Garnett is one of the few Trent Baalke draft picks left on the team and is starting to show why he was a first-round draft pick. Often written off because of the knee injury, Garnett seems to be a completely different player and looks like he has locked up the starting spot at right guard.
Richard Sherman Is Who We Thought He Was
Richard Sherman made his debut in a 49ers uniform and performed exactly as most fans remember him. Sherman was tight in coverage and had a magnificent pass break up of an Andrew Luck dart. He provides intimate knowledge of the defensive scheme and has served as a crucial mentor for the young secondary. Seeing him get some actual game play under his belt is great to see. The Achilles injury from a year ago doesn’t seem to have affected his play style at all.
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