Injuries cloud preseason opener as 49ers d-line dominates, Jimmie Ward does not

Niners rally past the Cowboys, 24-21, on Thursday night in Santa Clara

Tommy Call
August 09, 2018 - 11:10 pm

The 49ers won an unexciting preseason game in exciting fashion as they beat the Cowboys 24-21 on a last-minute touchdown pass from Nick Muellens to Richie James. Here are some immediate takeaways from the 49ers first preseason victory:

The injury bug is flying in Santa Clara

This game will be remembered for one reason: injuries.

Injuries are concern number one, two and three in a preseason game and that all went wrong for the 49ers in the opener. Four players the 49ers are counting on left the game with injuries vs. the Cowboys. Young tight-end George Kittle and backup running back Matt Brieda both left with shoulder injuries — an especially scary injury for two players who like to lower their shoulder.

Soloman Thomas, who needs a prove why the 49ers drafted him number three overall left with a head injury — any head injury is not to be taken lightly. Malcolm Smith, who spent his first year as a 49er on the injured reserve is back on the injury report with a hamstring. The depth on this team is a serious concern and this is a real problem for the 49ers. These injuries will be something to monitor as camp continues. The 49ers would rather have Jimmy Garoppolo throw four pick-six interceptions than deal with four injuries from four contributors.

The defensive line is for real

A positive note: The 49ers defensive line is legit.

On the first series Deforest Buckner proved why he’s a potential defensive player of the year candidate by blowing up the Cowboys second round pick, Connor Williams for an almost sack on Dak Prescott. Cassius Marsh provided pressure on several downs early with Dekoda Watson and Jeremiah Attachou right behind him. Camp darling Julian Taylor flashed several times tonight vs the Cowboys second team. If Taylor can continue what he’s shown in camp and week one, Arik Armstead better take note quickly.

The 49ers defensive line was the highlight of the night for the 49ers and they did it against the Cowboys offensive line that’s one of the best in the NFL.

Those drops

A common thread for the past few seasons has been the 49ers issues with drops — that continued tonight. Marquise Goodwin didn’t come up with a contested pass from Garoppolo on the first drive and Dante Pettis had a big drop of his own. Not a good look from the rookie as he’s trying to find his way in the NFL. Drops are inexcusable at this level and something the 49ers will need to work on early as they can become contagious.

Jimmie Ward Was Not Good Tonight

Do I need to say more? Ward had the worst night out of any 49ers starter. He most notably got cooked by the Cowboys rookie wideout Michael Gallup for an easy score on Dallas first drive. Then he later gave up a gain for a first down against Allen Hurns. With such a young secondary Ward needs to step and proves he deserves the $8.5 million San Francisco owes him this season. Tonight was not a great start for the 2019 free agent.

Joe Williams was average at best

Although Williams punched in a touchdown this couldn’t have been the performance he was hoping for. All eyes were on Williams every time he was in the backfield and he didn’t really do anything. Raheem Mostert who is at best a special teams standout outplayed him at every step.

With Brieda going down early this was a massive opportunity for Williams to show why Kyle Shanahan wanted to draft him so badly. Williams job on this team is not safe, and he needs to make an impact everytime he touches the ball during camp and in the preseason if he hopes to have any role on this team, yet alone a roster spot.

Player of the Game: Defensive Tackle Julian Taylor

Underperformer of the Game: Joe Williams

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