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We all knew the day would come eventually. The return to the scene of the crime. That same stadium in which the “tear heard ‘round the world” happened on that fateful September day last year. The San Francisco 49ers will return to Arrowhead Stadium this Saturday for a preseason matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. And the last time they were there was not a pretty scene. The 49ers lost 38-27, but the worst loss of that day was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s ACL which tore in the fourth quarter of that game. And with that he was out for the rest of the season. It should be a tense return for him, but also another opportunity (which he clearly needs) to shake some of that rust off from his almost year-long hiatus. There’s a lot to look forward to in this matchup, as the Niners have shown lots of depth through their first two preseason games. Let’s take a look at some predictions for the game.
Jimmy Will Have a Bounce-Back Game
I know, I know. I’m a modern-day Nostradamus making a claim that a quarterback who had a 0.0 QBR will do better in his next game. We can all agree that Garoppolo looked awful in his first time back on the field in 11 months. There was a missed blocking assignment that led to Denver Broncos edge rusher Bradley Chubb getting all up in his face and forcing an interception. But on his other dropbacks, he seemed very apprehensive. This likely is some rust that he needs to shake off. Look for Garoppolo to play at least three offensive series against the Chiefs, and he will be more decisive and on-point with his throws, because he will actually have worked on them in practice. Crazy idea to believe that a player is not static in their skills and they can actually improve and clean up mistakes, right? Okay, let’s move on.
Tarvarius Moore Will Have an Interception
The 49ers defense has looked exceptionally solid throughout the preseason. And one player that looks to be playing himself into the starting free safety spot is Tarvarius Moore. He logged the most defensive snaps against the Dallas Cowboys and was second in defensive snaps against the Broncos. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh also likes what he is seeing, having given glowing reviews of Moore all week. Against the Chiefs, Moore will have multiple pass breakups and finally grab an interception, further cementing his bid to be the starting free safety. Will he take it to the house? Another question for another day!
Dante Pettis Breaks Out of His Slump
Through two preseason games wide receiver Dante Pettis was on the field for 28 snaps. In that time, he was targeted only twice and had zero receptions. Needless to say, this is not what head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to see from the wild-haired, cat-loving receiver. Look for Pettis to play somewhere in the range of 25 to 30 snaps and be more actively targeted in this upcoming game. And don’t be surprised if Shanahan dials up some deep passes intended for him. Pettis will dig deep here in the game which is considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season. Expect multiple receptions on his part!
If all the above predictions look positive, it’s because they are. Besides the fact that I am a glass-half-full guy, the 49ers have so much potential to unlock this season. They didn’t come right up their first preseason game and blow everyone away with their performance. But they are showing incremental improvements from week to week. They continue to mature and grow as a team, as is evidenced in practice and during these past two games. There will be some tough decisions when it comes time to trim the roster down to 53 players. And that’s a good thing!
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