49ers X-Factors and Storylines to Watch
Preseason narratives are just that, and there’s only so much one can read into the goings on during the contest.
But considering Week 3 of the preseason is the closest thing to a regular-season game fans will see, and there are a number of roster spots and jobs on the line, this particular contest holds some awfully high importance.
Can Jimmy Garoppolo Bounce Back?
Jimmy Garoppolo was a mere 1-of-6 in Denver last week for a net total of zero yards, an interception and a passer rating of 0.0. Yes, you read that correctly.
Garoppolo never got into any sort of rhythm, and it looked as if the game was moving too fast for him. And while he saw just three drives against the Broncos, his struggles against a good defense created all kinds of overreaction and worry.
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Going up against a questionable Chiefs defense could help right Garoppolo’s sinking stock value, especially if he’s able to take advantage of the increased field time on Saturday.
Kyle Shanahan vs. Andy Reid
Again, neither head coach in this contest will be pulling obscure plays from the back end of their playbooks.
That said, both Kyle Shanahan and Andy Reid are widely viewed as some of the best offensive-minded coaches in the league.
Even their basic, vanilla-style play-calling abilities should be entertaining.
Running Back Raheem Mostert
2018 revealed Raheem Mostert could be more than just a special teams ace, and his efforts in Denver against the Broncos solidified that. Mostert managed a combined 100 yards of offense, split between a 9.7 yards-per-carry average on the ground and a two-catch, 42-yard effort through the air.
Even though starters will see ample field time Saturday, expect Shanahan to give Mostert a good number of carries during the game, as the tailback looks to carve out a significant role this season.
Oh, and the Chiefs run defense was terrible last year. Like, second-worst-in-the-league terrible, averaging 5.0 yards per carry against.
49ers Defensive Backs
It’s not the Chiefs defense the Niners should be worried about, rather Patrick Mahomes and the offense.
San Francisco was content to largely sit on its incumbent crop of defensive backs during the offseason. While cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon looks to have bounced back from a forgettable 2018 campaign, and Tarvarius Moore‘s switch from corner to safety looks promising, that doesn’t change the fact Kansas City’s offense is about as potent as it gets.
This should be a good indicator just how solid the 49ers defense can be against a top-tier offense.
And if things go badly, at least the numbers won’t count.