There was a lot excitement watching the San Francisco 49ers return to playing football on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos. Despite the loss and watching the Niners second- and third-string players give up four turnovers, overall the team had a good game on both offense and defense.
There were plenty of good and bad plays made by the 49ers throughout the game. Here are few things I noted during the game, but you can click here for a more detailed evaluation of the 49ers preseason Week 1 loss:
Daniel Kilgore – What made the 49ers’ starting offensive line one of the best in the league last season was the fact that all five played the whole season, including the playoffs, without suffering an injury. Last night, four of the five starters from last year started for the Niners, with the exception of center Jonathan Goodwin. Starting in his place at center was Daniel Kilgore, who also remained in the game with the second-string offense.
Goodwin did not play because of an injured finger, but with the way Kilgore played at center he might have heated up a competition between the two at the position. What makes Kilgore so valuable is his versatility on the O-line. He is listed as a guard, but he can also effectively play center and tackle, if needed. Goodwin has been practicing at training camp, but in a non-contact jersey. He could be in danger of losing his starting job to Kilgore if does not recover to full strength soon.
Ian Williams – One of the question marks on defense is who starts at nose tackle for the 49ers this season. The assumption is third-year pro Ian Williams will be the man in the middle clogging up holes. And with the way he played in his first start at the position last night, it’s clear he will be able to handle the starting role.
All game, Williams pushed Denver’s offensive linemen back on their heels, which allowed the outside rushers to get pressure on the quarterback and led to four sacks. He continued his strong play with the second-string defensive line in the second and third quarters.
Backup Quarterbacks – Scott Tolzien and Colt McCoy got off to rough starts in the first and second quarters. McCoy was on the field for only three offensive series because of an injured shoulder he suffered in the second quarter. After coming into the game to replace McCoy, Tolzien eventually found his groove by passing for 158 yards. But he still had a mediocre game.
A lot of the bad play by McCoy and Tolzien had to do with the horrible protection the second-string offensive line provided for the quarterbacks. Still, I expected a lot more from Tolzien as this is his third year in the offense.
The takeaway from this for me is that a) the Niners are in trouble if Colin Kaepernick is injured and Tolzien or McCoy has to start, and b) with exception to Kilgore, the backup offensive linemen did not show they can be effective if called upon to start for an injured player.
Here is a slideshow of the 49ers vs. Broncos preseason Week 1 game:
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh runs off the field with his players before the game against the Denver Broncos.