The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys for their first preseason win by a score of 23-6. Here are the grades and evaluations from the exhibition:
Note: Coaching is not graded in a preseason game.
Colin Kaepernick looked decent despite what the boxscore said. He had a good throw to Torrey Smith, but an even better breakup by Corey White in the first quarter. Blaine Gabbert took a conservative approach with short passes while Dylan Thompson was a work in progress. They didn’t play bad, but nothing flashy to earn a higher score.
Running Backs: A
The 49ers offense looked great when it was built around Carlos Hyde and later Mike Davis. They combined for 73 rushing yards on 15 attempts in a limited playing time. Jarryd Hayne also added a 34-yard run in the second half.
Wide Receivers: D-
No 49ers receiver had a reception of 10 or more yards. Not even a fourth quarter catch against the third string defenses. The longest reception was nine yards from a suspended Jerome Simpson. Obviously the starters were on the field for a short time, but there should have been more from the second-team offense. Quinton Patton also had a terrible lowlight of running several yards for a big loss.
Tight Ends: C-
The 49ers used Vance McDonald early with a seven yard reception, but he left the game with an ankle injury. Despite trading two tight ends, there wasn’t much involvement in the passing game. Blake Bell looked good as a fullback though. Rory Anderson also made a few catches at the end.
Offensive Line: C+
Run blocking was phenomenal to create space for the running backs. Hayne was getting plenty of space in garbage time and Hyde looked good as well. Pass protection was below average and Kaepernick was under pressure once. They had no answer for Randy Gregory, who was a second-round pick of the Cowboys this past spring.
Defensive Line: A-
The Cowboys run game was shut down for the most part. Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle went nowhere and the first two units plugged the holes well. Mike Purcell also had a pick-six and disrupted the line despite not accumulating many tackles.
NaVorro Bowman’s return to football was successful, with three impact plays on the opening possession. Eli Harold looked promising while Aaron Lynch also snuffed out a play. Corey Lemonier was invisible and looked like someone for special teams only.
They gave up some plays, but Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker had strong games. Jaquiski Tartt and L.J. McCray showed that both of them can lay the lumber on receivers and the former punished A.J. Jenkins. Dontae Johnson and Craig Dahl both had interceptions which were impressive. There was one funny highlight where Johnson and McCray “defended” each other prevented an interception.
Special Teams: A+
This was a complete A++ effort on all fronts. The 49ers were 3-3 in field goals with two different kickers and Bradley Pinion showed off his booming leg for punts and kickoffs. Jarryd Hayne had three impressive punt returns and even impressed on coverage units getting down the field quickly. Right now, Hayne is a keeper and a major upgrade over last year’s return personnel.