It was the rookie show for the San Francisco 49ers during their preseason matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. A number of 49ers made their preseason debuts which featured a number of young guys stepping up in the exhibition opener. Despite falling to the Chiefs 19-16, Kyle Shanahan was overall pleased with the product he saw on the field. Here are a few takeaways from the contest:
1. One and Done for Garoppolo, First Team Offense
As expected, the 49ers first-team offense saw one series before calling it a night. Jimmy Garoppolo was a perfect 3-for-3 for 26 yards with passes to Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Wayne Gallman II.
With the number of veterans inactive in the opener, rookie offensive lineman Jaylon Moore got the start at left tackle in place of Trent Williams and Jake Brendel saw starting center reps in place of Alex Mack.
2. Lance's Rookie Debut
Trey Lance made his debut on the 49ers ensuing drive, which was stalled following a dropped pass by Aiyuk. It didn't come as much of a surprise that the rookie played into the third quarter as Shanahan alluded to the quarterback seeing near 30 snaps in his first game under center.
Lance played seven total drives and finished the day 5-of-14 for 128 yards and a score. His 35.7 completion percentage doesn't tell the full story of Lance's night. Multiple drops by the 49ers receivers tarnished what looked like an admirable outing for the rookie.
His most impressive throw of the night came on the first snap of his second drive. The rookie rolled out to his left and dialed up a deep bomb downfield to wide receiver Trent Sherfield for an 80-yard touchdown. Sherfield edged out Chiefs defensive backs Mike Hughes and Devan Key en route to the end zone.
"There was some good and some bad. By no means was it perfect," Shanahan said postgame. "There were a couple of spots that you'd like him to go to different places. Sometimes, a couple of balls that sailed on him that I think he'd like to have back. But he also came out pretty good too, making the right plays, getting in the right spots. We had a couple of drops there especially on a third down that he could have kept the drive going if we had caught it. But it was a good first day. I didn't want it to go perfect for him. I'd like some things that he could learn from. And there will be a lot of things that we can go over tomorrow."
3. Backup Performance
Josh Rosen was the third quarterback off the bench midway into the third quarter. His second drive helped San Francisco regain the lead late in the fourth quarter. Rosen orchestrated a 5-play, 59-yard drive that was highlighted by a Nsimba Webster carry. The drive was capped off with a JaMycal Hasty 4-yard touchdown run.
He finished the night 10-of-15 passing for 93 yards and an interception. Fellow backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld did not play.
4. Carrying the Rock
Hasty led all 49ers running backs with 11 carries for 63 yards and one score. Rookie running back Trey Sermon got the start with Raheem Mostert watching from the sideline. Sermon rushed for 26 yards on nine attempts and hauled in both of his targets for 14 yards. San Francisco totaled 175 net rushing yards to Kansas City's 74.
5. Jennings' 49ers Debut
Jauan Jennings also made his preseason debut on Saturday and flashed at times on the field. The wideout was credited for two carries, totaling 23 yards, and a 26-yard reception that set up a Rosen touchdown.
"He had a good screen today," Shanahan said. "He caught a good seam over the middle. You guys can see his hands and how aggressive he is after he catches the ball. But he got a lot of playing time. It will be good for us to evaluate him when we get in there."
6. Rookie Pick
Defensive back Deommodore Lenoir recorded the 49ers first takeaway of the preseason. On a pass from quarterback Chad Henne to Noah Gray, the ball bounced off the shoulder of the tight end and floated into the direction of the rookie. He also recorded three tackles on the day while getting the start with the first-team defense.
7. Defensive Standouts
Another rookie defensive back found himself all over the field on Saturday. Safety Talanoa Hufanga was one of the bright spots of the day. Hufanga opened the second half of the contest with a tackle on kickoff coverage.
"I saw he made some plays today," Shanahan said. "I thought I saw a tackle on special teams, saw a couple of hits on defense. I think he's getting better each week and he's one of the guys I'm excited to watch how he played."
Jonas Griffith had himself a day, seeing reps at middle linebacker with Fred Warner inactive. Griffith recorded a pass breakup that forced a Kansas City punt, a run stop and notched four tackles on the day.
Newly signed cornerback Alexander Myres notched a run stop in the backfield that brought up a Kansas City fourth down.
Alex Barrett the 49ers first sack of the day. On 3rd-and-8 at their own 10, Barrett chased down Shane Buechele from behind and swallowed up the quarterback to force a Chiefs punt.
Jordan Willis and Darrion Daniels split another sack in a near-identical position as Barrett's to force a Chiefs fourth down and new defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes notched one of his own in the fourth.
9. Return Specialists
Richie James and Nsimba Webster were in the mix at kick return. Late in the fourth quarter, Webster returned a kickoff 43 yards from inside the end zone. What's just as impressive is on the ensuing play, the wideout took an end around 34 yards to move the 49ers into Chiefs territory.
James, Travis Benjamin and River Cracraft (twice) were all in on punt return.
10. Injury Updates
Aaron Banks, who saw second-team reps at right guard, left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Shanahan suggested the second-round pick is likely to be sidelined for a week.
Elijah Mitchell did not dress on Saturday as the running back suffered an adductor strain and is likely to miss a couple weeks, per Shanahan.