If Sunday night was truly a "dress rehearsal", then the San Francisco 49ers have plenty to feel good about. The 49ers jumped out to a 14-0 lead against the Minnesota Vikings as the starters played the entire first half.
Although San Francisco's starters were fantastic, the 49ers lost the game 32-31. Minnesota's third-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke led a game-winning drive as time expired. He ran the ball in himself on the two-point conversion for the walk-off win in regulation.
Here are the top takeaways from the 49ers most important preseason contest.
1. The offense got off to a dream start. The 49ers scored touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions. The first was a quick five-play, 79-yard drive. The second spanned 10 plays and 88 yards. A pair of completions from Brian Hoyer to Pierre Garçon got the 49ers moving. Then, on play-action, Hoyer hit a wide open Marquise Goodwin for a 46-yard touchdown.
The second drive featured members of the 49ers backfield being used in the passing game. Carlos Hyde caught passes of 15 and six yards. Kyle Juszczyk then gained 16 yards on a catch-and-run. On the first play of the second quarter, Hoyer found Hyde over the middle for a 24-yard touchdown.
2. Hoyer finished 12-of-17 passing for 176 yards and two touchdowns for a QB rating of 143.3. Hyde ran the ball seven times for 19 yards and added three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. Garçon caught six passes (on seven targets) for 64 yards. Most, if not all, of Garçon's receptions came on slants. Goodwin caught the one pass for a 46-yard touchdown.
It wasn't perfect. The 49ers offense sputtered towards the end of the half, but it was still a nice sign of progress.
3. San Francisco's defense pitched a shutout in the first half. The 49ers got consistent pressure on Sam Bradford and sacked the Vikings starting quarterback three times. Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil and DeForest Buckner each got one. Minnesota nearly scored at the end of the half, reaching the 49ers 6-yard line, but time expired before they could spike the ball.
4. Reuben Foster and Eric Reid appeared to be trying to one-up the other in regards to big hits. Foster stuck Vikings running back Dalvin Cook for a 5-yard loss on the first play of the game. Eric Reid followed with two emphatic third-down stops to get the defense off the field. Just before the end of the first half, Foster delivered one more blow, flattening Laquon Treadwell over the middle. Both players have provided a much-needed physical presence to the 49ers defense. Foster finished the game with eight tackles.
5. Good news, the 49ers starters had only two penalties and zero turnovers. Both penalties came when the 49ers were called for offsides.
6. Some lineup notes: Jaquiski Tartt started at free safety in place of Jimmie Ward. Lorenzo Jerome had been starting at that spot the previous two games. Solomon Thomas started in place of Tank Carradine. Eli Harold got his second straight start at SAM linebacker. That spot is his to lose now that Ahmad Brooks has been released. Will Redmond did not play which gave Asa Jackson an opportunity to play nickel with the second-team defense.
7. NaVorro Bowman continues to have a solid preseason. His best play came on an end around to Adam Thielen. Bowman sniffed it out and tackled the Vikings wide receiver for a 1-yard loss.
8. Raheem Mostert continues to make a strong case for a spot on the 49ers 53-man roster. On a 3rd-and-22 play from the 49ers own 13-yard line, Mostert took a short screen pass to the left all the way for an 87-yard touchdown. It was an impressive individual effort as the running back went sideline-to-sideline on his way down the field and into the end zone. Mostert added a 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put the 49ers up 31-17. He finished with 130 total yards (104 receiving, 26 rushing) and two scores.
Mostert also played well in the preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. He helped drain the clock and secure a 49ers win. San Francisco's coaching staff has a few difficult choices ahead of them at the running back position.
9. C.J. Beathard's numbers look better with Mostert's 87-yard touchdown. He got off to a slow start, but did lead a long touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. The series featured two third-down completions to Trent Taylor. He finished the game 7-of-13 passing for 159 yards and one touchdown. The interception wasn't entirely his fault as it bounced off the hands of Louis Murphy Jr.
10. Matt Breida carried the ball seven times for a team-high 29 yards. Joe Williams had seven carries for 16 yards.
11. Matt Barkley only played for one drive and completed both of his pass attempts for 19 yards.
12. The 49ers allowed all 32 points in the second half. One of the scores came on a 108-yard kickoff return touchdown from Jerick McKinnon.
- The 49ers outgained the Vikings 431-374.
- Minnesota had more first downs than the 49ers, 25-19.
- Neither team had double-digit penalties, a rarity during a preseason game.