The 49ers’ backups had a big second half, helping San Francisco win their preseason game against the Denver Broncos, 24-15. Niner Noise recaps the victory.
The San Francisco 49ers won their second preseason game of 2019, beating the Denver Broncos 24-15. The backups did their part against Denver, but the biggest story tonight was quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to the field after the quarterback tore his ACL on September 23, 2018.
And it was disappointing return, to say the least.
Garoppolo looked extremely rusty out there at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, completing just one of six passes for zero (but really minus-1) yards and one interception. His throws lacked velocity, he didn’t make smart decisions, and most of all, the quarterback looked extremely uncomfortable on the field.
His worst throw was not his interception — it actually came shortly after, when Garoppolo threw a pass straight to Broncos cornerback Isaac Yiadom, who dropped the easy pick-six:
As bad as Garoppolo looked, one has to admit that 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and the Niners offensive line did not make things easy for the quarterback in his return.
Tackle Joe Staley was nothing more than a turnstile that Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb gladly ran past to pressure Garoppolo into throwing his interception. Meanwhile, Shanahan did not dial up the easiest plays for Garoppolo to execute in his first game back, with his easiest pass being a screen pass to running Matt Breida on 2nd-and-long.
Garoppolo played under some poor circumstances in his first game action in almost a year, which can explain the rust. However, he will have to look better on Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs to instill some confidence in not just the fans, teammates and coaching staff, but also in himself. Garoppolo looked like a deer in the headlights tonight, and this performance could derail his confidence after working so hard in the offseason to recover from his torn ACL.
The first-team defense looked pretty solid, especially considering the fact edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, stud defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and both starting inside linebackers Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner were not playing in this one. Even though Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco was able to outplay the defense, the unit was able to stuff the run very effectively.
In particular, Jaquiski Tartt was a 49ers defender who shined, making plays all over the field in the run and pass game.
Otherwise, the 49ers’ backups played well enough to win, scoring three touchdowns later on in the night. The first one was a 30-yard scamper from running back Raheem Mostert, who broke off big play after big play from the backfield.
He will make the 49ers’ 53-man roster because of his role on special teams, but he could be a decent starting running back on many other NFL teams. San Francisco’s running back depth is simply top-notch with Breida, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Mostert running the show.
The second touchdown was a 1-yard run from Jeff Wilson, but the real story is what led to the scoring play. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel took an end-around and spun the Broncos’ defense around for a 45-yard run down the sideline, where Samuel reached a top speed of 21 miles per hour.
To put that in perspective, that is just one MPH shy of the NFL’s fastest play of 2018, held by the aforementioned Breida, who had a 22.09 MPH run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Samuel should make an immediate impact on this team. He is going to be a problem for NFL defenses this year.
The 49ers’ final touchdown of the night was absolutely stunning, with quarterback Nick Mullens lofting a perfect 1-yard fade into the hands of wide receiver Kendrick Bourne in the end zone for a touchdown.
Bourne had dropped some balls thrown his way during the preseason, but there’s no denying the skill displayed on this beautiful play:
The 49ers’ arguably best play of the day came from rookie punter Mitch Wishnowsky, who absolutely destroyed Broncos kickoff returner Devontae Jackson with a textbook tackle. If the Niners run out of linebackers this year due to injury (knock on wood), defensive coordinator Robert Saleh might want to have Wishnowsky fill the role.
I mean, if he tackles like that, the guy is destined to be an All-Pro at the position.
Overall, outside of the first-team offense, the 49ers played pretty well for their second preseason win of the year. Now all eyes will be set on Garoppolo this Saturday as he returns to the site where he tore his ACL less than a year ago.
That should be a very interesting game to watch.