The San Francisco 49ers came from behind to beat the Denver Broncos 21-20 in their preseason home opener at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday night.
Here is what stood out from the game.
During the offseason many questioned whether Purdy would be ready to start week one for the 49ers in Pittsburgh.
The 49ers quarterback made it back in time for training camp and made his first start since tearing the UCL in his throwing arm in the NFC Championship Game on Saturday night.
Kyle Shanahan didn’t take it easy on Purdy by calling seven passes, opening with four passes in a row, during the nine play drive.
Purdy connected twice with Deebo Samuel on short throws with the receiver took for 25 and 14 yards. The difficulty went up from there as Purdy hit Jauan Jennings while rolling to his left for a gain of 11. Two plays later the quarterback hit Brandon Aiyuk on a slant to the right side for a pickup of 15.
After a sack of Purdy set up third and goal from the ten, pressure forced the quarterback out of the pocket. Instead of taking the throw to Jennings, Purdy took off on a scramble but came up two yards short of the endzone. Following the game Purdy mentioned he would “probably be thinking about making the throw to JJ.”
Purdy finished 4-5 for 65 yards. More importantly he showed he could take a hit and get back up.
Darnold took over after the opening possession and quickly went three and out. He did a nice job of beating the blitz on second a second down throw to Jordan Mason, but his third down throw to a well-covered Ronnie Bell was broken up.
The veteran opened his second possession with a scramble up the middle for a gain of eight. Two plays later he hit Chris Conley on a slant to the left side to pickup 11. After Ty Davis-Price picked up the first down, Darnold found Jauan Jennigs over the middle off play action for a gain of 21 however the play was wiped away due to a hold on center Jon Feliciano. Now facing first and 20, Darnold connected with Charlie Woerner over the middle for eleven before being sacked by an unblocked defender two plays later to end the drive.
After a pair of runs to open Darnold’s third possession, the veteran hit Bell on a screen to the right side before hitting the rookie again, this time on a slant for a gain of eight. Facing third and 14 following a sack, Darnold took off up the middle on a scramble and was stopped well short. It looked like Darnold could have reset his feet and made a throw which would have given the offense a better chance to convert.
On Darnold’s fourth possession, he connected with tight end Troy Fumagalli for three, but had Ronnie Bell open on a slant behind it for a bigger play. Darnold went to Bell on a slant on the next play, but the rookie could not hold on, the ball bouncing off his hands and intercepted by t cornerback Essang Bassey.
Darnold was given one more possession and made the most of the opportunity, opening with a completion to Cameron Latu off play action for eight yards. Three plays later he hit Ronnie Bell over the middle off play action for 21 yards. This was a play Darnold missed last week against Las Vegas. After completions to Dazz Newsome and Brayden Willis, Darnold found fullback Jack Colletto in the right flat for a touchdown from ten yards out.
Darnold finished the night 11-14 for 109 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Lance finally took over in the final moments of the third quarter, and he promptly hit Tay Martin for a gain of nine while on the move to his right to avoid pressure. After having a nice completion to Ronnie Bell wiped away due to an illegal formation, Lance found Jeremy McNichols in the right flat for eight yards and a first down. Disaster struck three plays later when Lance’s screen pass to McNichols was batted into the air and intercepted by a Denver defensive lineman.
On his next possession, Lance didn’t hesitate to let the ball go. Working off play action on the first play, Lance hit his back foot and tried to fit a throw in to Ronnie Bell on a deep curl, but the pass was knocked away. Two plays later Lance used his legs to gain six yards after avoiding the pass rush. Facing second and five from the Broncos 29, Lance stood in against the Broncos rush, his deep throw to Cameron Latu coming up just short after he was hit while throwing. Lance came back on the next play to hit Tay Martin on a slant for seven and a first down.
Two of Lance’s worst plays of the night followed. First was a throw over the middle to Brayden Willis which probably would have been intercepted by the linebacker if it wasn’t so high. On the next play Lance had Willie Snead open on an over route but was locked in on another receiver, throwing incomplete late to Snead. He bounced back on third and twenty with an eight-yard slant to Bell which set up a 43-yard field goal for Jake Moody.
After a holding penalty backed the offense up again on the next possession, Lance got into a rhythm. The quarterback hit six consecutive throws, finishing with a 22-yard touchdown to Cameron Latu up the right seam to bring the 49ers within two.
Getting the ball back with 2:01 remaining, Lance opened with a throwaway to avoid a sack before hitting Ronnie Bell on a screen to the right side which the rookie took for a gain of 14. This is where Lance made his biggest throw of the night. The third year quarterback finding Bell open on a deep in route over the left side, and the rookie taking off through the defense for a gain of 43 to put the offense in position for a game winning field goal by Moody.
Lance was 12-18 for 173 yards with a touchdown and interception.
On the opening play of the game, Samuel took a short pass from Purdy for a gain of 25 yards. A couple of plays later he took a screen and ran for 14. The wide back is looking ready for a big year.
Latu has been struggling during camp, but he put it all together against Denver. The rookie tight end finished with three catches including a 22-yard touchdown from Lance. Earlier in the drive which ended with the touchdown Latu made a grab along the right sideline for a gain of 16.
Bell’s night was mostly good. The rookie had seven catches for 114 yards to lead all 49ers receivers. He also showed well on special teams with a 25-yard kickoff return and 28-yard punt return.
The downside for Bell was a drop over the middle from Darnold which ended up as an interception. This has now happened to Bell two games in a row.
The second year back finished with four carries for 22 yards, 15 of which came on a run late in the game to set up the game winning field goal.
Deep in the redzone on the opening possession of the game, Davis-Price whiffed on a pass block leading to the sack of Brock Purdy. Davis-Price struggled with this last week as well, and this shows why he was often left off the active roster during his rookie season.
Sustained an injury to his collarbone at the end of a 23-yard kickoff return to open the game. The extent of the injury was not known immediately following the game according to Kyle Shanahan.
The reserve defensive tackle worked in with the second unit in place of Javon Kinlaw who didn’t dress.
McGill made the most of the opportunity by coming up with a sack, quarterback hit which nearly led to an interception and stopped a screen for no gain.
Brown made the start at safety in place of Tashaun Gipson and finished with two tackles. One of his best plays won’t show up on the stat sheet. It came on a screen out the left when Brown attacked downhill and forced the runner back inside where his teammates were able to make the stop.
The veteran safety had a rough game. He twice had opportunities to make open field tackles to keep Broncos running back Jaleel McLaughlin from scoring and missed both.
Jamison is pushing for a roster spot due to his ability as a return specialist. Tonight, he muffed a punt deep in 49ers territory. Denver recovered and scored a few plays later.
The rookie hit all three field goal attempts including the game winner from 32 yards out. However, he did miss an extra point attempt as well.
The free agent addition looked explosive off the edge. Several times he was able to turn the corner and get close to a sack. On one, his pressure made Broncos quarterback Jarrett Stidham move up in the pocket where he was sacked by Marlon Davidson.