The first preseason game is in the books as the San Francisco 49ers defeated our beloved Dallas Cowboys 24-21 on Thursday night. We got a little taste of the starters with a good dose of action from the new guys. Despite the sloppiness that usually accompanies preseason ball, the offense didn’t turn the ball over (except for that last Hail Mary) and the team survived without any costly injuries. There was a lot to digest in game no. 1 and here are this week’s winners and losers.
In typical Dak Prescott fashion, the Cowboys young quarterback followed up a very uninspiring training camp performance with some great play in preseason football. He only played in one series, but he made it count. He finished 3/3 for 39 yards and a touchdown. He also took off and ran once for 12 yards, helping the offense keep the chains moving. The preseason marvel continues. In 2016, Dak completed 78% of his passes and had a 137.8 passer rating. Last year, he improved to 82% and 138.4 passer rating. He’s off to a good start, completing 100% of his passes with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
The free agent linebacker was all over the field last night. He finished the game with five tackles (three solo), including one behind the line of scrimmage. He also had one pass break-up as well as being the benefactor of Kavon Frazier’s tipped pass where Thomas was able to come down with the interception. He was brought to Dallas to give them a solid coverage linebacker and so far, he’s as good as advertised.
What a great start for the Cowboys rookie wide receiver. On the game’s first drive, Gallup would catch a 30-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott. It was his only catch of the night, however, it shouldn’t have been. Gallup would also beat his man deep, but unfortunately Cooper Rush was way short on his throw, allowing the defender to catch up to Gallup. A good throw and the rookie is off to the races.
Fans got a good look at what a tired defense looks like when they try to arm tackle Scarbrough as the rookie running back got loose for a 28-yard run to set up the offense inside the red zone. Scarbrough got plenty of chances to show his skill as he carried the ball nine times for a total of 33 yards (3.7 yards per carry). While he didn’t have a lot room to run at times, he would power his way in short-yardage situations. He scored a touchdown at the goal line and could’ve had another one in the second half had he not slipped. But more than just his thumping running style, Scarbrough demonstrated that he can be an asset in the passing game, hauling in two catches for 19 yards.
With each new day, there becomes more and more to love about this “long-shot” receiver. And Thursday’s game was no exception as Lenoir would come down with a nice toe-drag touchdown pass to help the team go up 21-10 in the third quarter. Not only is he playing his way on to the team, but I’m to the point where I’m looking forward to what type of plays he’s going to make in the regular season. The guy has worked so hard and the amount of improvement he’s shown this season is commendable.
The 49ers receiving group shouldn’t cause defenses a lot of problems, but the Cowboys young corners found themselves out of position a few times. Chidobe Awuzie surrendered a couple receptions that resulted in first downs. Anthony Brown got called for a pass interference penalty that set up a 49ers touchdown. And Jourdan Lewis got beat deep for the longest reception of the game.
And the depth guys completely collapsed, allowing the 49ers to charge down the field and score two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the game. I had no idea who 49ers’ 8th-string quarterback Nate Mullins was before tonight and I would have preferred to have kept it that way.
The backup offensive linemen played okay for the most part. Chaz Green did get called for a penalty and there was some blocks not executed, but the unit did a decent job as a whole. It was a tough day for free agent Marcus Martin. On one play, he pulled to his right, but whiffed on his block, causing Scarbrough to be tackled behind the line of scrimmage. But more concerning would be that Martin left the game after he injured his right big toe. With a tight roster battle for the last OL spots, any obstacle could derail his chances to make the team.
It’s expected that a rookie quarterback will have some growing pains and the Cowboys young arm exhibited his shares last night. White held on to the ball too long at times and was late getting the ball to his receivers. Some of his throws were off target as well. The Western Kentucky product still needs plenty of reps, but that’s what preseason action is for.
The good news is that Cooper Rush was solid. While he came down to earth a bit compared to his outstanding performance last preseason, he showed a lot of poise out of the pocket and made several good throws.