49ers Flop in Vegas


We are all excited football is back.  Yet, once again, the 49ers fan base is watching another quarterback competition unfold.  The presumptive starter is Brock Purdy.  Who will back him up?  Will it be Trey Lance or Sam Darnold?


The game plan today was to watch how Trey Lance and Sam Darnold faired under adverse conditions.  None of the starters played on offense or defense.  A few rotational players on defense played most of the first half. (Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, Clelin Ferrell and Ji’Ayir Brown).  Some will say that Lance will not get a fair grade out of today’s performance simply because he didn’t play behind the starting offensive line.  Let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly from this game.


The Good.

Most of the good came from the first half.  Clelin Ferrell is an excellent rotational defensive end.  He managed to consistently get pressure on the Raiders quarterback ultimately culminating in a sack.  Ji’Ayr Brown played well in is debut.  He is where he needs to be and never gave up the big play.  Ambry Thomas’s first half play was outstanding.  He defensed several passes, made several tackles including a fourth down tackle that set up the 49ers only scoring drive in the game.


The Niners wide receiver, running back and tight end room appear to be set.  Chris Conley will likely make the team as the number five receiver.  He ran smooth routes and caught tough balls.  Ronnie Bell also played well.  He kicked off the 49ers only scoring drive with a 15-yard rush.  He finished the game with 3 receptions and 58 years.  Two of his receptions came in the second half.  While the running backs struggled behind a ghastly line, they still managed a couple of explosive runs.  Lastly, Ross Dwelly and Troy Fumagalli appeared to be in midseason form.


The Bad.

Trey Lance’s statistics fail to tell the complete story.  Lance completed ten of fifteen passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in six drives.  The easy throws remain hard for Lance as he misfired several short throws early in the game.  Lance started the game indecisive, and Vegas pounced.  The Raiders defense sacked Lance four times, taking advantage of a substandard offensive line.  Lance almost threw two interceptions.  Duke Shelly tipped the first ball into Ross Dwelly’s hands.  The second would be interception bounced off the defender’s butter finger hands down the middle of the field.  Lance lacked confidence early.  The only drive he looked comfortable started on the 49ers 39-yard line and ended with the tipped touchdown.  Lance’s play started to improve.  In the next two drives he had a few good throws but could not lead the team back to the end-zone.  With 28 seconds on the clock in the first half, Lance completed a 24-yard pass to Conley and a 22-yard pass to Troy Fumagalli to set the team up in field goal range.  Jake Moody missed his first NFL field goal wide left.


Sam Darnold completed five of eight passes for 84 yards in just three drives.  He was very decisive with his throws including his major misfire to Ronnie Bell with three defenders around him.  Darnold appeared to play decent however he failed to identify two misalignments costing his team yardage.  Both misalignments came from the wide receiver who “covered” the tight end.


The defensive line lacks effective depth.  The Raiders pushed the defensive line all over the field in the first half.  Javon Kinlaw failed to get beyond the line of scrimmage.  The Raiders did run away from him so he may end up being an effective plug and play run defender next to Arik Armstead or Javon Hargrave.


The Ugly.

The offensive line is atrocious.  They can’t block a grandma from coming into the supermarket.  Their pass blocking is inconsistent, and the run blocking was virtually non-existent.  The 49ers failed to convert two fourth and short running plays.  Meanwhile the quarterbacks were forced to escape the pocket and rush their throws, often resulting in an incompletion.


Jake Moody’s NFL debut was a complete disaster.  He missed two field goals at an indoor stadium.  The first kick was wide left and the second was wide right.  Moody’s debut wasn’t the only problem with special teams.  The kick return team failed to consistently set up blocks for the returner resulting in terrible field position on almost every offensive possession.



This is game one of the preseason.  The main goal is to survive the game and evaluate the bottom half of the roster.  Many will argue that it is unfair to evaluate Lance and Darnold without playing them with the starters.  There may be some truth to that statement.  Going into this game I knew the starters were sitting and I wondered who the quarterback’s would rely on to catch the ball.  Ronnie Bell, Chris Conley and Ross Dwelly stood out.  They were consistently open.  Though Bell bobbled a ball to a defender, he still managed 130 all-purpose yards (57 yards were from kick returns).  Failure brings clarity.  The 49ers lost due to a variety of failures they must now focus on.  Look for the team to improve next week against Denver.

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