The San Francisco 49ers second and third string offense was able to manufacture enough scoring drives to secure the victory in game one against the Kansas City Chiefs. But the first string offense wasn’t able to get out of the gates. The matchup won’t get any easier this week as the Denver Broncos and their vaunted defense roll into town. Denver will be giving second year quarterback Paxton Lynch the start as he tries to stay in the race for the starting job with Trevor Siemian. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s backup quarterback is not a race just yet, but it could become one soon. Matt Barkley didn’t make any catastrophic errors and rookie C.J. Beathard led the offense to their only touchdowns last week.
Getting a win in the first game for the new regime was a great start but a win that featured 17 penalties proves that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Preseason Week 2 San Francisco 49ers Things To Watch
Things To Watch On Offense
Going up against the elite Denver Broncos defense will provide a strong test for San Francisco’s first string offense. After failing to make an impact against the starting defense in week one, it will be imperative to generate a spark early in this game. While Kyle Shanahan has made it clear that Brian Hoyer is going to be the starter, another sluggish performance could begin to shorten the distance between the starter and backup quarterback. Hoyer ended up with a stat line of 1/3 with a total of three yards in both series with the first team.
Hoyer wasn’t the only starter in week one that will be looking to bounce back. Carlos Hyde was only in for the opening series but even then he can’t be pleased with a zero yard performance even if it was only after touching the ball twice in an exhibition game. After the first unit was unable to provide a spark on the ground, the backup duo of Joe Williams and Matt Brieda combined for 18 carries and 100 yards. Both backs showed good vision and burst as they cycled in and out of the game. The fuel of Denver’s defense is their pass rush and aggressive secondary which means an effective running game will be paramount. Also, if game one was any indication, the 49ers offense will also feature plenty of play action passing plays which inherently means their running game needs to stay on track.
Things To Watch On Defense
Last week against Kansas City, cornerback Rashard Robinson was tested on the team’s opening play while on an island covering Tyreek Hill. Hill is one of the faster players in the league and the Chiefs wanted to remind everyone of it immediately. Along with that initial strike, Robinson also whiffed on an third down tackle attempt in the red zone failing to wrap up Spencer Ware. Robinson stayed in the game for another series and was able to snag an interception against the second team offense. With Paxton Lynch getting the start for Denver in game two, the 49ers defense should expect to be tested vertically yet again. Lynch is an athletic quarterback with a strong arm and whether he is targeting Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders I expect there to be a few deep shots to test Robinson. After the rough start to the game, it was important that Robinson was able to bounce back with the interception. It will be interesting to see if he can make an earlier impact this week.
Both Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas will look to build upon their game one performances. Foster showed his athleticism in coverage and Thomas’ pressure up the middle forced an interception. In this matchup, both rookies will need to be on their toes against Denver’s play action passing game.
Things To Watch on Special Teams
The special teams unit can easily be overlooked during the exhibition games. But it often provides the opportunity for borderline players to make a roster early on in their career. Or in last week’s case, it can help keep a team in the game long enough for the offense to get into gear. It can also give the opposition a chance to take control of the game as we saw with a blocked punt last week. The team needs to learn from its mistakes and stay disciplined against Denver’s well-coached special teams unit.
A Cool Shout Out
If you’re ever looking for a barometer of your offensive tackle’s and running backs’ ability to pass protect, there are few better litmus tests than elite pass rusher Von Miller. Miller has seen plenty of the 49ers offensive line in the team’s joint practices this week. He apparently was very impressed with what he has seen out of right tackle Trent Brown. Let’s see if the glowing insights of Miller will help Brown and the rest of the San Francisco offensive line in this game.