Here’s who stood out during the 49ers 27-17 preseason victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
- QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Showed he’s ready to start the regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Played with confidence and threw no interceptions. Some of Garoppolo’s throws were slightly behind his receivers, but he completed 14 of 20 passes and mostly made good decisions. His only bad decision came near the end of the first half when the 49ers had the ball at the Chiefs’ 19-yard line facing second-and-three. Garoppolo lined up in the shotgun, received the snap, dropped back, stared down Dante Pettis, who was triple covered, and threw the ball to him anyway. Garoppolo was lucky the Chiefs just broke up the pass and didn’t pick it off. He never should throw into triple coverage, especially if he’s throwing to Pettis, because Pettis won’t make a contested catch. If Garoppolo didn’t know that before, he should now. He’s learning.
- HC Kyle Shanahan. Set up Garoppolo for success and helped him regain his confidence. Called six play-action passes for Garoppolo after calling none for him against the Broncos. Also called just one empty formation after calling three last Monday night. Shanahan seemed to send Garoppolo a message the past couple weeks by repeatedly putting him in difficult situations. The message was clear: “You’re not as good as you think you are, Jimmy. You haven’t arrived. Listen to me, your coach.” Jimmy seems to have gotten the message. Good him and good for Shanahan.
- WR Deebo Samuel. Played with the starters and caught two passes from Garoppolo – a six-yarder and a 21-yarder. Samuel is fast and he loves violence. He is the best receiver on the 49ers right now and should start Week 1. Let’s not mess around.
- WR Richie James Jr. Arguably the second-best wide receiver on the 49ers. Led the team with four catches for 66 yards. James is a threat to go deep and to run with the ball after the catch, and he’s tough and fearless. He almost certainly will make the team and play in the games.
- RB Matt Breida. Averaged 6.3 yards per carry and made a diving 20-yard touchdown catch. Breida is unquestionably the best running back on the 49ers, but he’s small and brittle. He needs quality backups to keep him fresh and healthy.
- RB Jeff Wilson Jr. A quality backup, and the most powerful runner on the 49ers. Wilson Jr. scored two touchdown runs, including one from seven yards out. If the 49ers cut Wilson Jr., another team almost certainly will sign him, which means the 49ers should find a way to keep him. What a shame if they were to cut him and keep C.J. Beathard instead.
- TE Ross Dwelley. Dropped his first two targets, but bounced back and caught two passes from Garoppolo, including a 23-yarder. Good to see a young player with very little experience overcome a couple bad plays. Dwelley is the second-best receiving tight end on the 49ers after George Kittle, who missed the game with a mysterious calf injury.
- DE Arik Armstead. Recorded half of a sack during the first half. Armstead is in his prime, in fantastic shape and in a contract year. We should see his best.
- DE Damontre Moore. Recorded two sacks. Already a better NFL pass rusher than Solomon Thomas.
THE NOT SO GOOD
- WR Dante Pettis. Played in the fourth quarter of a preseason game, which means he may not start or even make the final roster. Pettis has not been one of the 49ers’ six best wide receivers since camp started – he has consistently struggled. And he doesn’t seem interested in returning punts anymore. He makes fair catches even when he has space to run. The 49ers should trade Pettis while he still has trade value. He is not one of their 53-best players.
- RB Tevin Coleman. Averaged 2.1 yards per carry and two yards per catch. Seemed to hesitate before he hit the holes and didn’t generate yards after contact. This is how he played during training camp, too. Good thing the 49ers have Breida.
- LT Joe Staley. Gave up his second sack of the preseason – this time to Frank Clark. Staley is beginning to look old. Maybe the 49ers shouldn’t have extended his contract this offseason.
- DE Solomon Thomas. Made no impact.
- CB Richard Sherman. Gave up two catches for 25 yards. Seemed slower than last season.
- CB Ahkello Witherspoon. Gave up two catches for 19 yards. Seemed exactly the same as last season, which is not so good. The 49ers will need Nick Bosa and Dee Ford to make Witherspoon look better.
— Grant Cohn (@grantcohn) August 25, 2019