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.
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.