49ers’ dual quarterbacks lead the way in victory over Raiders

San Francisco 49ers running back Wayne Gallman II, middle, runs between Las Vegas Raiders nose tackle Niles Scott, left, and safety Tyree Gillespie during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The San Francisco 49ers closed out their 2021 preseason on Sunday afternoon with a dominating 34-10 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders at Levi’s Stadium.

Let’s take a look at the answers to the five burning questions that I asked before the game.

1. Will Kyle Shanahan debut the dual quarterback system? YES

During the 49ers first two offensive series of the game Kyle Shanahan used both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance. The two split snaps evenly during a 10-play drive to start the game that Garoppolo finished off with a one-yard scramble for a touchdown. On the ensuing possession, Garoppolo would take 10 of the 14 snaps with Lance finishing it off for the 49ers second touchdown of the day on a five-yard run.

Other than a false start by Trent Sherfield, it didn’t appear that there were any adverse effects on the flow of the offense with the quarterbacks going in and out of the lineup.

It didn’t seem like there was much rhyme or reason to when Lance or Garoppolo were in the game, but Lance seemed to clear that up after the game. According to Lance, the quarterbacks were part of specific personnel packages which determined who would be in the game.

2. Will the full starting offensive line finally play together? YES

Trent Williams and Alex Mack made their preseason debuts, playing the opening drive of the game. With the veteran duo in the game San Francisco’s run offense looked the best that it has during this preseason, accounting for 53 yards on seven attempts.

Having Raheem Mostert taking those handoffs may have contributed to the strong performance as well. Mostert made his first appearance since week 15 of last season and had back-to-back explosive runs of 16 and 17 yards.

3. Can Jalen Hurd make a strong case for a roster spot? NO

Four receptions on six targets for Hurd doesn’t sound like a bad day. The problem is that Hurd dropped two targets and was able to gain only 25 yards on those four receptions, along with two yards on a rush attempt during the second possession.

Hurd lacks the type of explosion necessary to be a playmaker in the 49ers offense. If Hurd somehow slips onto the final roster, it is unlikely that he will be dressing on game days.

4. Will Jaquiski Tartt make his 2021 debut? YES

Tartt not only played, he made the start at strong safety. The veteran played the entire first half, recording four tackles. After making a third down tackle in the second quarter Tartt would limp off the field after banging knees with another player, but he would return during the next possession without missing a play.

5. Will Elijah Mitchell take the final running back spot? I think so.

Mitchell looked strong, gaining 19 yards on his three first half carries. The rookie would finish the day with a total of 24 yards rushing on six rushing attempts.

In addition to his rushing, Mitchell made the tackle on the opening kickoff of the game and later showed off his return skills, totaling 60 yards on two kickoff returns with a long of 45. Having Mitchell return kicks may allow the 49ers some additional flexibility with the decision on a sixth wide receiver.

Notes:

Rookie cornerback Deommodore Lenoir appears to be the backup to K’Waun Williams at nickelback. Lenoir stepped into the role this week and played well.

Javon Kinlaw doesn’t seem to have improved. Kinlaw struggled to rush the passer as a rookie, and never took part in one-on-one drills during training camp. He played the entire first half against the Raiders and never got close to the quarterback.

Trey Sermon had a strong effort against the Raiders, picking up 37 yards on seven carries. He is clearly the number two back behind Raheem Mostert.
Free agent addition Samson Ebukam registered a quarterback hit early in the game and also forced a fumble.

JaMycal Hasty has made a strong case to be on the final roster all preseason. Hasty continued his strong preseason against the Raiders, gaining 44 yards on only four carries, including a 35-yard explosion for a touchdown on draw play.

Wayne Gallman may be the odd man out in the running back room. The veteran did not enter the game until only 12:23 remained. He would gain 22 yards on six carries.

Jordan Willis finished the preseason with 2.5 sacks, getting to the quarterback in all three games. The veteran will be out for the first six games of the regular season due to violating the NFL’s policy on PED’s.

Zach Kerr registered two tackles for loss. The veteran will be part of a very strong rotation along the interior of the defensive line.

This article has 31 Comments

  1. I wasn’t able to see most of the 1st half, but what I saw (after the TDs) of Lance was that he still has the kinks to work on.
    -wobbly passes
    -inaccurate throws
    -too high or too low or too hard
    Will that be solved in 2 weeks?
    I also thought the Raiders D was very poor, maybe because ours was so strong?

  2. Not a huge fan of the 2 QB system but it was obvious the change up put a lot of pressure on the defense.

    I like Elijah Mitchell but he clearly needs some time on the PS. He doesn’t know the plays.

    Trey Lances inaccuracy is more and more concerning to me. The bounce pass to Deebo while Hurd was wide open underneath was a very very bad look.

    Hurd looks to me like he has lost quite a bit athletically. Feel bad for the guy with all the injuries but he is not better than Jennings at this point.

  3. I’m fine keeping Garoppolo and Lance on the roster at the same time.
    – Montana played behind DeBerg
    – Young played behind Montana
    – Rogers played behind Favre
    – Mahomes played behind Smith

    Situation quarterback subbing is more complicated
    – BW subbed Montana in for DeBerg in situations he thought were ideal for Joe’s skillset and development. But the 1979-1980 team had scant playoff aspirations.
    – Situational subbing of Kaepernick for Alex Smith in the 2012 regular season game vs NYG was a catastrophe. Every time Alex got into rhythm Harbaugh killed the drive by subbed in CK. (Of course Colin did much better when he started).

    Overall I’m excited for this team. Really liking this roster.

    1. I think the Young and Aaron played behind are understandable since both are following established QBs and future-hall-of-famers. I think the Mahomes played behind Smith comparison is more accurate here… But the Chief didn’t trade 3 1st round picks to get Mahomes either so they were in no pressure to rush Mahomes to get into the field.
      IMHO, I think the Niners should have gotten rid of Jimmy the moment they traded 3 1st to get Lance. The message to Jimmy and the team couldn’t have been more clearer than that. Locker room is complicated and this 2 QB thing can go ugly really fast. If they really believe that this is a superbowl team (which I think they do since they signed Trent, Warner and Juice to big contracts) then they should have given Jimmy more help. We don’t know for sure, but they could have had either Fields, Jones and perhaps eve Lance if they stayed at 12 or maybe just moved up to 8th or something other than the 3rd pick. I’m starting to questions Kyle and Lynch with their QB selections… from Bethard, Mullens and giving Jimmy that big contract and now trading all the way to 3rd to get Lance and not even start him in any single pre-season game and barely have him work with the 1st the whole camp. I don’t what Kyles says to him and Jimmy behind the scene, but from the outside, they look like they are not sure what they are doing or what the strategy here after deciding to trade 3 1st for Lance.

      1. Usually a QB picked 3rd overall would start immediately because the team selecting him would be poor and have no options at the position but that isn’t the case here. This is a team that was in the SB18 months ago. They decided to trade those picks to not only get a young QB for the future but to strengthen the QB depth chart now. Trading Garoppolo makes no sense considering they don’t need the cap room and will get the same amount of relief next year as they would trading him now, while you risk another lost season if Lance gets hurt or isn’t up to the challenge. I think you and many others are missing some key points here:

        1) This team is built to win now. You want quality depth at every position possible and especially at QB.
        2) Lance is the most inexperienced QB to be drafted in the top 5 as long as I can remember. This is not a Mahomes comparison as Mahomes played a lot of games in College and still sat for a year. Most of the top QB’s drafted had at least two full seasons starting in College. Lance has one at the FCS level. Don’t get caught up with the drama Queens on twitter saying Lance has to start now. He doesn’t and shouldn’t until they believe he’s ready to play at a high level consistently.

        As to your last sentence, did you watch the game yesterday? The QB switches meant off without a hitch and worked perfectly. I doubt they do it that frequently during the season at least early on, but both QB’s looked pretty good and both seem quite happy with the situation according to their statements after the game.

        1. FL49erfan, I actually don’t pay attention to the so called “drama” queen you mentioned since I really don’t have time for that. I could barely follow the only team I follow and this is pretty much the only 49er blog I go to when I can. I don’t argue with Lance being the most inexperienced QB coming out of this year’s draft, actually, probably the most inexperienced QB drafted in the the top 3 of the draft ever (but I could be wrong here). But I find it hard to believe that both Kyle and Lynch traded up 3 1st and a 3rd to pick up Lance (inexperience with lots of potential) KNOWING that he will only play like Hill this year for them. If that’s the case and the plan to begin with then I question their decision making.
          I question this because if this is really a superbowl or playoff team then getting an inexperience QB that MIGHT turn out to be the future franchise QB is not the move to make when making a run at the superbowl. They should have either given Jimmy more help or got better QB (not sure if they really went after Stafford or even made a play to pry Aaron). For the record, I’m happy with Jimmy and I believe that if healthy he is a solid QB that proves he could win if he has good support around him. But Kyle doesn’t think Jimmy is good enough when they made a move to go up and get Lance. It’s a matter of when not if when Lance will start. Yesterday, the 2 QB system might have worked against a bunch of backups but until it is proven when it matters then it’s just that. Maybe, Kyle will be the one to make it work but again if that’s the plan here while mortgaging the house then I think it’s not a good move at all. Too many unknowns that they have created in here. Lance the inexperience and unknown with only potential to show for (btw, with this untrained eyes, he could be the next great QB of the Niner but that remains to be seen) and 2 QB system (if this what they will really do in the season) that never really worked. This might be another year that we miss out of winning that 6th trophy. But I hope I’m wrong here.

          1. But I find it hard to believe that both Kyle and Lynch traded up 3 1st and a 3rd to pick up Lance (inexperience with lots of potential) KNOWING that he will only play like Hill this year for them. If that’s the case and the plan to begin with then I question their decision making.

            Why? You don’t have to play a rookie QB simply because of where he was drafted and draft capital given up. You play the guy who gives you the best chance to win. They have 4 years and an option on Lance it’s not like it’s this year or never. They wanted a young QB to groom and be there if Garoppolo gets hurt again. If they wanted to go with Lance as the starter from the start they would have traded Garoppolo or cut him, but they didn’t so that tells us they still see Garoppolo as a guy they can win with and if he misses time they have positioned themselves to have a better option than they’ve had the previous two times he’s been injured. The two QB system is simply a way for them to get Lance a taste of NFL action and make use of his athleticism until he shows he’s capable of doing everything they need to do in this offense. I doubt they’ll do it as often as they did against the Raiders but as long as it’s working who cares? Chances are Lance may take over at some point this season regardless depending on how quickly he progresses but for the time being they have the ability to bring him along without throwing him completely into the fire.

  4. IMO, Javon Kinlaw is going to be a 2-down lineman this season whose primary role is not going to be pass rush. In the slightly modified version of the Niners defense, his primary job is likely to be to leverage his lateral quickness to shut off running lanes so that the LBs (and strong safety) can be better prepared for defending teams passing in the early downs in the middle of the field. That’s the opposite of Buck who is a great penetrator into the backfield but was often unable to stop the run because he lacked the lateral quickness needed to cover the wider spacing in the wide 9 scheme.

    1. That would be a major problem.
      Kinlaw has to be able to provide something in terms of pass rush to be worthy of a 1st round selection. Run stuffing DT’s can be found throughout the draft or as cheap free agents.
      Additionally, the run defender is now more of a part time player than a pass rusher, as last year only 3 teams ran the ball more than they passed it, and 13 teams passed the ball 10 percent more often than they they ran it.

      1. Kinlaw has rare combination of size and athleticism but was a raw prospect when drafted with very little pass rushing skills. Like other rookies last season also missed his first off-season because of COVID. Doesn’t seem like his use right now is in pass rush. Rather than a traditional “run-stuffer”, in some of his RB pursuits, he ran the back down more like a LB. His current role is probably useful in a passing league allowing safeties to play outside the box. I think his role as a interior rusher would be expanded in the future. Since he has the physical tools, there is no reason that he cannot develop pass rushing skill.

        1. Kinlaw took 0 reps during 1-on-1 pass rushing drills during training camp. How is he supposed to develop skills without practicing them?

          1. My belief is that the knee is preventing him from developing. We shall see as the season progresses, they have played it slow with Ford and Bosa

            1. The difference is Bosa and Ford are proven NFL pass rushers. Kinlaw is a run stuffing defensive tackle with no pass rush moves.

              1. Exactly they are not going to put Ford in there to get reps so he can get better at defending the run right?

                It’s the same for Kinlaw they are not going to put extra stress on his body- that will be more vulnerable -moving in ways that are new to him. I think it helps that they have a deep interior as well.

                There is a strong likelihood that Kinlaw has 4-5 sacks fall into his lap because the other players are that good.

          2. Kinlaw took 0 reps during 1-on-1 pass rushing drills during training camp.

            Reason is probably what Foster mentioned. His knee is a concern. If he’s fully healthy during next off-season, then that’s when I’d expect them to focus on his pass rushing development.

        2. Kinlaw hasn’t practiced a whole lot either. He’s incredibly strong and athletic but he still needs to play and work on his game. Way too early to get a read on how good he can be.

        3. I’m not saying he can’t be an interior pass rusher… I still have faith he can develop into that (if he can stay healthy).
          My argument is that if he remains a run stuffer only, then he will be a major disappointment.

  5. Am I only one that things this 2QB thing is a bluff? I think Kyle is trying to protect Jimmy a bit by forcing coaches to at least have to think about Trey.

    In a real game I see Lance maybe getting 4-5 snaps at most.

    1. Yes. Agreed. I don’t think you’re going to see Lance at all in the first couple games.

      Unless they’re up big he’ll see a little bit of time when they’re playing at home.

      Still, this is Jimmy G’s season unless he goes down or completely falls flat on his face.

      1. It’s a nice monkey-wrench but unfortunately KS likes to outthink the opponent’s coach instead of doing the obvious.
        That’s how we lost the last SB ….

  6. Anyone else notice that in the last 2 preseason games Wishnowski has been booming his punts. It took Andy Lee a couple of seasons to find his rhythm. I think he is finally going to become the punter they thought he was when they drafted him. Also they seem to have changed their philosophy on kick offs. Instead of booming the kicks deep they seem to want the ball kicked to about the goal line with the thought that their coverage teams will hold returners inside the 25 yard line. So far it seems to be working. Lastly I think Mitchell will start the year on the PS as talented as he is he doesn’t look like he has mastered the system. I hope he doesn’t get scooped.

    1. “Instead of booming the kicks deep they seem to want the ball kicked to about the goal line with the thought that their coverage teams will hold returners inside the 25 yard line. ”

      I actually said that same thing to someone in the press box during the game yesterday.

    2. Re Mitchell,
      It’s unlikely a team will have room in their 53 for a 6th round rookie who was waived by the team that drafted him. They’d look for some experience. Else Niners could cut Hasty again — but I think there is a greater chance that Hasty gets picked up, e.g., by the Jets (whose #1 back currently is Tevin Coleman!)

      1. It’s possible but I think Mitchell is probably more highly thought of than Hasty. There was a story about a number of teams calling the Niners after they took Mitchell to congratulate them on getting a steal so unless that story is bogus I think Mitchell would be picked up whereas Hasty was an UDFA and really hasn’t done a lot other than show up in preseason so far. He could be picked up but I’d rather have Mitchell anyway.

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