This was an offseason filled with noise for the San Francisco 49ers. With the opening contest of the preseason slate finally complete, there were several players that stood out amongst the rest throughout the night. Here are the biggest takeaways from the 49ers preseason opener.
1. Trey Lance Is Ready
There wasn’t a ton of Trey Lance film to go off heading into this offseason. We knew the potential of the dual-threat from North Dakota State, but the sample size we were given in 2021 was barely that of an appetizer. The second-year man showed out, though. His pocket presence has taken a clear step forward. On the first drive, the Packers brought pressure. Lance stayed composed, stepped up, reset, saw nothing, and then took off. In his few starts last season, Lance would have been more keen to run rather than wait that half second longer. Green Bay brought pressure again on the second drive, and Lance got rid of the balk quickly on a deep ball to Danny Gray for a 76 yard touchdown. He didn’t look panicked, he didn’t look rattled- he looked ready.
2. Danny Gray Will Be a Key Contributor
Speaking of Danny Gray, what a show this guy put on. He put his 4.33 speed on full display on the aforementioned touchdown catch and run. It’s not just Gray’s speed, though, that stood out. His route running ability is very evident. On the first drive on a deep out, he gained separation toward the sideline and extended to make the catch. Unfortunately, Lance led him just a little too far and the pass was caught out of bounds. Regardless, Gray is showing potential to be a real difference maker in an offense full of them.
3. The Receiving Corps is Deep
It obviously isn’t just Gray who can fly in the 49ers receiving unit. Ray-Ray McCloud had a deep touchdown on a double move, showing off what the Pittsburgh Steelers would be missing by letting him go. Plus, Brandon Aiyuk has had a fantastic camp, and we all know how great Deebo Samuel is. With this kind of versatility and speed out wide, the 49ers and Lance could let it fly far more than we are accustomed.
4. The Depth Is Evident in the Front Seven
The 49ers front seven may be even deeper than advertised. Several players made notable contributions in the first game of the preseason. Drake Jackson made multiple plays, including a great pursuit of Jordan Love that saw Jackson keep good contain, stay in front of the quarterback and have a good angle of attack has he made contact with Love on the ensuing pass. On top of that, Oren Burks looked good, and the front seven contained the Packers in the run game all night. An overall good night from the first two levels of the 49ers defense.
5. Samuel Womack Earned More Reps at Nickel
The 49ers lost nickel corner K’Waun Williams to the Denver Broncos, which leaves a spot open for competition on the defense, and Samuel Womack III made his case to get some snaps as the nickel. The fifth-round rookie had two interceptions in his NFL debut, including a flat-out robbery of Packers receiver Romeo Doubs as he was falling to the turf. While Darqueze Dennard is at the top of the depth chart for the job, it is anything but set in stone. Especially if Tarvarius Moore keeps getting outright beat like he was on the Romeo Doubs touchdown. If Womack keeps making big plays through the rest of the preseason, he will be a name to watch in the 49ers secondary.