Whilst much of the preseason talk has been about who will be under center for the San Francisco 49ers, the running game has slipped under the radar. However, a dominant ground game and defense were both on display in the 49ers final preseason game in their 34-10 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Ground Game and Defense on Display in San Francisco 49ers Final Preseason Game
Running Back Corps Shows Promise
The 49ers came out guns blazing, Running back Raheem Mostert looked fired up and ready for Week 1 as he had seven carries for 53 yards in the first quarter alone. Rookie Trey Sermon came in midway through the second quarter, and his 37 yards on seven carries allowed the Niners to kick a field goal.
After the game, Mostert said it felt good to be back on the field after such a long injury.
“Well I haven’t played football since November but it felt great being out there. I was happy and excited, I got some explosive runs as well. I just need to make sure that carries over to the opener against Detroit.
“Our mentality in the running back room is still the same as it was last year, if we get an opportunity, we’re going to flourish. We’re gonna make those plays and we’re gonna do what we’ve got to do.”
However, the biggest achiever on the ground was JaMycal Hasty, who picked up two rushing touchdowns in the second half. He had six carries for 55 yards and a big 35-yard rush for a score late in the third which meant he was responsible for all the Niners second-half points.
Hasty hit the gas for a touchdown????
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) August 29, 2021
One player who many were excited to see was Elijah Mitchell. The rookie out of Louisiana looked both hot and cold throughout the game. Miscommunication on handoffs early made him look a bit raw but strong running allowed him to get some hard-earned gains. He finished with 24 yards on six carries.
With the Niners racking up 246 yards on the ground to the Raiders 62, it was certainly a dominant showing from the Bay Area backfield.
Domination on Defense
Something that has looked more and more consistent as the preseason has gone on is the 49ers defense. A dominant display saw the Niners pick up three sacks, including two back-to-back for a combined loss of 20 yards at the start of the fourth quarter. The defensive line looked unstoppable, best shown by Zach Kerr’s fancy spin move for a 11-yard loss.
Happy birthday big stepper ‼️ @ZachKerr92
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 29, 2021
Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw expressed his gratitude at how good his teammates are and that he wants no one to be cut on Tuesday.
“From top to bottom, we’ve been playing at a very high level. No matter who it is, everybody has been excelling and getting better everyday. It’s very encouraging to see and I’m just blessed to be in the position I’m in.
“I want them to keep everyone we’ve got, we’ve bonded so much over this training camp. If a guy goes, it’s going to be hard to watch him leave, it’s a real brotherhood, real family-type vibe.”
Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix also snagged an interception at the end of the third quarter, on a deep Nathan Peterman pass he returned to the Raiders 10-yard line which set up the Niners for a three-yard JaMycal Hasty touchdown.
Multiple Familiar Faces
There were plenty of familiar faces that Shanahan felt comfortable giving a few reps to get players prepared for the season opener in two weeks’ time. George Kittle played a preseason game for the first time since 2018, and offensive linemen Trent Williams and Alex Mack played the entire first quarter. Mostert also got his first appearance of the year, alongside Mitchell in the backfield.
The 49ers will play the Detroit Lions in their Week 1 matchup on Sunday, Sept. 11th at Ford Field.