The San Francisco 49ers may have won their first preseason contest against the Dallas Cowboys, but it didn’t go without its share of losses. The 49ers were cautious in their decision to sit their starters ahead of the exhibition opener, but injuries still managed to trouble the team. Here are 10 takeaways from the 49ers first exhibition contest.
1. A surprise non-active was third year receiver Trent Taylor. General manager John Lynch joined the broadcast booth during the first half and revealed Taylor suffered a stress fracture in his foot during Thursday’s training camp practice. The 49ers could see Taylor return earlier than anticipated. Because of its timing, Kyle Shanahan didn’t rule out a Week 1 return.
“He was having a hell of a camp. It was disappointing to hear about,” Shanahan said post game. “But fortunately, it won’t be the year. I think we’re about four weeks from Week 1. It’s usually a 4-6 week injury, so we’ll see how it goes.”
2. The bad news continued as five other 49ers exited the game with injuries. Shon Coleman suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter. The swing tackle was placed in an air cast and was carted off of the field. D.J. Jones (knee), Najee Toran (hand) and Marcell Harris (head) also left the game early.
3. San Francisco entered Saturday already thin at the running back position, with Jerick McKinnon out for the preseason and Jeff Wilson Jr. sidelined with a calf injury. Raheem Mostert left the game in the first half with a head injury. The 49ers signed running back Brandon Wilds ahead of Saturday’s contest, who split reps with undrafted rookie Austin Walter in Mostert’s absence. Wilds registered seven carries for 29 yards including a 15-yard pickup on his first carry of the game.
4. Penalties haunted San Francisco, registering an alarming 18 for 216 yards – something Shanahan will assess following Saturday’s game.
“Anytime you have a game where you have 18 penalties and the other team has five, we should look at it hard," Shanahan said. "It’s very hard to win that way. It was very frustrating. We’ll look at them hard and see if all of them are stuff that we can control.”
5. It was a big night for Robert Saleh, whose defense managed to keep Dallas out of the end zone. On Dallas’ final drive, a defensive pass interference call on Dontae Johnson moved the Cowboys to the 49ers 4-yard line. The third-string defense forced a turnover on downs to seal the 17-9 victory.
6. The 49ers limited the Cowboys to just three field goals on the day and forced a fumble. Takeaways were a point of emphasis this offseason, as San Francisco recorded a league-low seven in 2018. Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds got pressure on Dallas’ quarterback Mike White and forced the ball out of his hands. Undrafted rookie Azeez Al-Shaair recovered the fumble. Al-Shaair also made a big third down stop in the fourth quarter that drew praise from the entire sideline.
7. In the battle for the primary backup job, Nick Mullens opened the first half and completed 11-of-17 passes for 105 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 76.8 quarterback rating. C.J. Beathard played the majority of the second half and finished 13-of-17 passing for 141 yards, one touchdown and an interception for a passer rating of 95.5. Undrafted rookie Wilton Speight closed out the final six minutes of the game and went 2-of-3 passing for 10 yards.
8. The 49ers rookie receivers were a bright spot in Saturday’s contest. Jalen Hurd caught 3-of-5 of his targets for 31 yards and both of San Francisco’s touchdowns. Deebo Samuel connected on two of his six targets including a 45-yard bomb from Beathard to set Hurd up for his second score of the evening. His first touch was a reverse from Mullens that picked up 14 yards.
9. Rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw recorded five tackles in the first half, including a hard hitting run stop in the backfield against Cowboys running back Darius Jackson.
“It’s shown up that way in camp too,” Shanahan said. “He always seems to be around the ball in the run game and in the pass game. From what I saw, he made a few plays out there. I’m sure I’ll see a little more when I watch the tape. But it seemed pretty encouraging how he played tonight."
10. San Francisco’s fourth-round pick Mitch Wishnowsky made his NFL debut. The punter averaged 50 yards per punt, including a 64 yarder that bounced out of bounds at the 1 yard line.