Here’s who and what stood out Monday night during the 49ers 24-14 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos.
THE NOT SO GOOD
- QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Played with no confidence. Seemed afraid to take a hit. Didn’t step into his throws. Had the “yips.” Completed only one of six passes for zero yards and threw one interception, plus a second pass which the Broncos dropped. In other words, Garoppolo played pretty much how he has played most of training camp. He doesn’t seem ready to play in a real game – he’s coming off a devastating knee injury and he lacks experience. Unless he plays much better this Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs – and I expect he will – the 49ers should at least consider starting Nick Mullens Week 1 of the regular season. They can’t afford to lose games while they wait for Garoppolo to figure things out. Teams that start 0-2 miss the playoffs 89 percent of the time.
- LG Laken Tomlinson. Can’t pick up and inside stunt. Hasn’t been able to pick one up since last season. Failed to pick one up Monday night, and so Garoppolo took a hit and threw an interception.
- The secondary. Gave up a 13-yard catch to DaeSean Hamilton, a 21-yard catch to Courtland Sutton and a 41-yard catch to Emmanuel Sanders which didn’t count because of a holding penalty on an offensive lineman. The 49ers pass defense may improve this season, but the secondary hasn’t changed much since 2018. It still needs an excellent pass rush to mask its deficiencies, and the 49ers haven’t yet played their best pass rushers during the preseason.
- The run defense. Played extremely well even without DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander. Held the Broncos running backs to just 2.24 yards per carry. Robert Saleh’s defenses consistently defend the run well.
- QB Nick Mullens. Before he even entered the game, Mullens’ stock had risen more than any other player on the 49ers, because he backs up a quarterback who has thrown seven interceptions since last Wednesday. Before Mullens had attempted a pass against the Broncos, he began to seem like a viable starter for the 49ers during the regular season opener. He finally entered the game in the fourth quarter, threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne and posted a quarterback of 134.7. Is Mullens the best quarterback on the 49ers right now? He might be.
- RB Raheem Mostert. Rushed six times and gained 9.7 yards per carry. Also scored a touchdown and gained 38 yards after catching a screen pass. Mostert is one of the 49ers’ most dangerous weapons when healthy. They have to get him a bigger role in the offense.
- WR Deebo Samuel. Kyle Shanahan said he hoped one of his young receivers would step up during the preseason, and Samuel has. He gained 45 yards running an end around. He needs to play with the starters this Saturday against the Chiefs.
— Grant Cohn (@grantcohn) August 20, 2019