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Rookie receivers shine, 49ers suffer injuries in preseason opener

Football season is just about underway, and the San Francisco 49ers began their preseason with a matchup against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.

In a game that featured very few of the 49ers starters, key members of the second- and third-string offenses and defenses got their first game reps of the season.

First Quarter

The Cowboys received the kickoff to begin the game and marched down the field with some help from 49ers defensive penalties. A nine-play, 65-yard drive resulted in a field goal to put the Cowboys up 3-0.

Mitch Wishnowsky kicked off to open the game in place of Robbie Gould. The 49ers coaching staff has mentioned that Wishnowsky will get reps on kickoffs. Another rookie, linebacker Dre Greenlaw stood out with four tackles on the Cowboys first drive of the game.

For a team that battled injuries all of last season, the 49ers were hoping to finish the preseason relatively healthy. On their first drive, the 49ers number three tackle Shon Coleman suffered an ankle injury and was carted off the field with an air cast on his left leg.

Ching Wong/SFBay San Francisco 49ers tackle Shon Coleman (78) is cared off the field after being injured in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Saturday, August 10, 2019. (Ching Wong/SFBay)

The Cowboys second drive resulted in another field goal, giving them a 6-0 lead. Already short on running backs, a shot to the head of Raheem Mostert shortened that staff further.

Second Quarter

To begin the second quarter, the 49ers began their third drive at their own 25-yard line. After marching down the field into Dallas territory, starting quarterback Nick Mullens ended the threat himself handing an interception to the Cowboys and linebacker Luke Gifford.

Ching Wong/SFBay San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) throws against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of an NFL preseason football game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Saturday, August 10, 2019. (Ching Wong/SFBay)

Shortly after the turnover, news broke on the 49ers television broadcast that Trent Taylor had undergone surgery to repair a broken foot Friday. The wide receiver is expected back at some point during the first half of the season.

With the loss of Taylor, one of the 49ers untested receivers will need to step up in the slot receiver role. Rookie Jalen Hurd may be just that guy.

Hurd is expected to act as an offensive weapon in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and he took on that job Saturday night. The 49ers marched 75 yards down the field in their fourth drive.

A 21-yard pass to tight end Ross Dwelley, followed by a nine-yard pass to running back Austin Walter put the 49ers in Dallas territory. A short run with Walter, followed by a seven-yard pass to Tyree Mayfield, set up a 15-yard run by running back Brandon Wilds. In the red-zone for the first time in this game, the 49ers scored a touchdown on a 20 yard pass from Mullens to Hurd, with an extra point making the score 7-6.

Following the touchdown, the Cowboys received the ball with 1:40 remaining before half time. On a 59-yard drive that featured 11 straight passing plays, the Cowboys reclaimed the lead on their third field goal of the night. At halftime, the 49ers trailed the Cowboys 9-6.

Third Quarter

Mullens night at quarterback was complete after playing the entire first half. C.J. Beathard took over on the 49ers first drive of the third quarter.

Beathard’s first drive begun in familiar fashion, with a sack for a loss of five yards. The next play was a six-yard pass to Walter, followed by a 17-yard pass to tight end Kaden Smith.

Following the sack, Beathard moved the ball pretty well before the 49ers offense committed four penalties, which resulted in a punt on 4th and 21. At the beginning of the third quarter, the 49ers had out-penalized the Cowboys nine penalties to two, for a total loss of 111 yards.

The 49ers defense forced a Cowboys punt on a three-and-out, giving them good field position at their out 44-yard line. Running the ball with Wilds and Walter, while completing a 16-yard pass to rookie receiver Deebo Samuel, the 49ers found themselves in Dallas territory, where Beathard was picked off by safety Donovan Wilson.

Penalties, penalties, and even more penalties.

The 49ers defense was penalized twice on the Cowboys following drive, bringing the total to twelve. On an incomplete pass from Cowboys quarterback Mike White, 49ers safety Adrian Colbert was called for a penalty in which he lowered his head on a tackle. Colbert, who is battling for a starting job, was immediately ejected.

The Cowboys once again punted after failing to reach midfield.

With the 49ers offense back on the field, Beathard worked quickly to get the 49ers back in the red zone benefiting from a 25-yard pass interference penalty.

Bigger than the penalty though, was a 45-yard pass from Beathard to Samuel.

Fourth Quarter

As the final seconds of the third quarter ticked away, the 49ers continued their drive on the Dallas 10-yard line with rookie receivers continuing to steal the show.

Hauling in his second score of the night, Hurd gave the 49ers a 14-9 lead just seconds into the fourth quarter.

Despite the abundance of penalties, the 49ers defense continued to shut down the Cowboys offense in the second half. Forcing another three-and-out, the 49ers got the ball back with 12:38 remaining in the game.

A crack at another scoring drive was stunted by a holding penalty called on what had been a 25-yard pass from Beathard to Richie James Jr.

One thing the 49ers defense was unable to do last season was force turnovers. On the Cowboys drive following the punt, linebacker LaRoy Reynolds did just that, forcing a fumble two plays into the Cowboys drive. Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair scooped the loose ball to give the 49ers the ball on the Dallas 37-yard line.

Following the turnover, the 49ers offense was stopped in Dallas territory, resulting in a 49er field goal from Gould, extending their lead to 17-9.

Final Score: 49ers 17, Cowboys 9

Despite committing too many penalties, and suffering a few unfortunate injuries, the 49ers walked away from their first preseason game with a win over the Cowboys.

Mullens started the game at quarterback and played relatively well, despite the second-quarter interception. Beathard followed Mullens and outperformed his fellow back-up hopeful.

Both Samuel and Hurd shined in their first NFL preseason game. With injuries to key 49ers players in Saturday nights matchup, they hope to receive good news as they travel to Denver for a week of practice with the Broncos before their preseason week two matchup.

Post-game injury updates

  • Shon Coleman (ankle), D.J. Jones (knee), Raheem Mostert (concussion), Najee Toran (hand), Beathard (thumb)

Trent Taylor update

Kyle Shanahan addressed the media postgame, where he gave an update on Taylor, who had surgery Friday to repair a fractured foot:

“We’re hoping for week one. We’re not counting on it, but we’re hoping for week one.” [Did that catch you guys off-guard?] “Yeah definitely, and him also. He was having a hell of a camp, and it was disappointing to hear, but fortunately it won’t be the whole year, there’s four weeks until week one, and its usually a four-six week injury.” [Is that a Jones fracture?] “Yes it is.” [Is that a serious injury?] “Yeah, it is. We’re lucky that we caught it when it was just a stress-fracture. We decided to do it now, so it can be more of a 4-to-6 week injury instead of an 8-to-10 week injury.”

With the injury to Taylor, the slot receiver role is up for grabs until he’s ready to return. With rookie receiver, Jalen Hurd, catching two touchdown passes tonight, there’s a chance that he may see some time in the slot.

“He [Hurd] has worked a lot in the slot. But he’s also worked a lot outside at the Z, he’s been doing both. I know he played slot in college, but we mix our guys all over, and he’s capable of doing both.”

Jimmy Garoppolo’s anticipated return

Both Beathard and Mullens played relatively well tonight, despite each throwing an interception. Earlier in the week, Shanahan confirmed that franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, will indeed play in the 49ers second preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Post-game, Shanahan touched on Garoppolo’s status for next week.


The 49ers committed a whopping 18 penalties, for a loss of 216 yards in their win over the Cowboys. The NFL record for penalties committed by one team in a game is 22, held by three teams. If Saturday night’s game was a regular-season game, the 49ers would not have broken the single-game penalty record, but they would have broken the single-game penalty-yard record of 212 yards. Shanahan was asked after the game if the number of penalties bothered him during a preseason game:

“Of course it bothers you. We’ll look at them very hard tomorrow. Any time where you have eighteen penalties and the other team has five, you should look at them, it’s hard to win that way. It’s very frustrating, but we’ll look at them hard and see if all of them were stuff we can control.”

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