What We’ve Learned From Three 49ers Preseason Games


With three out of the four preseason games played, the San Francisco 49ers starters are most likely done until week one. The final game will be played by the remaining back ups and bubble players to cement their role on the team. In these first three games, we were able to watch and answer questions that we had throughout the off-season.

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NaVorro Bowman is Back

Many doubts were surrounding Bowman’s ability to return to the player that he once was before his gruesome injury. The doubts went so far as to fuel some to report that he could actually be cut from the team. However, after two preseason games, it’s obvious that Bowman is still the best player on the 49ers.

In very limited play in just two games, Bowman amassed 12 tackles and two sacks. He picked up where he left off and is in the middle of every single play. Obviously it’s going to hurt the 49ers by not having Patrick Willis lining up next to him, but Bowman is still an All Pro player that can pick up the slack.

The Defense Will Still Be Tough

It didn’t look good for the 49ers when a number of starters and role players either retired or departed the team. Many predicted that the defense would be in the cellar of the NFL. If these preseason games are any indications, the 49ers’ defense will still be the stingy unit it has always been.

The preseason allows the coaches to mix and match players in different packages and situations, so we don’t know for sure who will start and who will play in which packages. The last will give a better idea of this. However, it seemed that no matter who was on the field for the 49ers, shined in some way.

Many new names are stepping up and showing promise. Arik Armstead is eating up two blockers and his pressure forced a Mike Purcell pick six. Purcell has also come on strong. He is making a great case to make the roster. He seems to be in on every tackle and clogs up the running lanes. Jaquiski Tartt is showing that he is a force to be feared when running over the middle. These are just a few young guys making names for themselves that will help the future of the 49ers.

Pass Blocking is Still a Concern

Not to take away from the Denver Broncos’ pass rush, but the right side of the 49ers’ offensive line did not do a good job at getting in their way. Ian Silberman, Erik Pears, and Marcus Martin all had trouble giving Colin Kaepernick time. Against the Broncos Kaepernick was sacked twice, once for a safety.

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49ers assembled a golden roster via NFL Draft despite misses
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  • The left side of the line is shored up with Joe Staley and Alex Boone, it’s the other positions that are a problem. Starting center Daniel Kilgore is starting the season on the PUP list, and will miss the first six games of the season. That means Martin, who started a few games last year, will need to step up and be a good replacement. With Anthony Davis‘ short hiatus from the team, Erik Pears has taken over his spot at right tackle. Pears needs to play better if he wants to keep that spot. Silberman started at right guard against the Broncos, but he probably won’t be there come week one.

    The Hayne Plane Has Taken Off

    Former rugby player Jarryd Hayne has taken everyone by surprise. Everyone expected him to have talent, but no one expected him to pick the game up this quickly. When he was first signed, there was talk about how it was a nice story but he wouldn’t make the team. He’s proven a lot of people wrong with his excellent returning skills and even has had a few nice runs. The return duties should be firmly in his hands. This is the first time since Ted Ginn in 2011 that the 49ers have had a dangerous returner that teams have actually feared.

    The Passing Game is Still a Mystery but the Running Game Looks Strong

    We still don’t know exactly how the passing game will be during the season. Partly because the line has given Kaepernick no time to throw, and because the coaches are probably keeping it on the down low. Besides a slightly overthrown ball to Torrey Smith against the Texans, the passing game hasn’t been unleashed. This isn’t encouraging with all the new players and changing pieces that the 49ers have had to go through.

    On the other side of the coin, the running game appears to be picking up from where it has left off over the last four years. Carlos Hyde looks like a stronger, faster Frank Gore. He is showing why the 49ers were content with letting Gore walk. Reggie Bush, although only playing in one game, looks like he will be dangerous as a third down back. Rookies Mike Davis and Hayne appear as if they can carry the load for a few carries and give Hyde a breather and keep him fresh.

    Next: Anquan Boldin is the Calm in the 49ers' Storm