The San Francisco 49ers played their first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 49ers beat the Chiefs 27-17. While preseason games should be judged with a grain of salt, there are still important lessons to be learned. One thing that was interesting to watch was how the 49ers looked at the quarterback position. Veterans Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, coupled with rookie C.J. Beathard are not exactly a group that inspires a lot of confidence. However, all these quarterbacks have shown traits that Kyle Shanahan covets. Looking at how they did in their first preseason game could give a glimpse at how they will do in the regular season.
San Francisco 49ers Quarterbacks Preseason Week One Takeaways
Hoyer, the presumed starter for the 49ers, saw the least amount of snaps. Hoyer only led two drives. This is about how much the starting quarterback should play in preseason game one. For comparison, Alex Smith of the Chiefs only played one drive. Going against most of Kansas City’s starting defense, Hoyer was unable to establish any rhythm.
On the first drive, Hoyer only attempted two passes, which were both incompletions. He did rattle off one 15 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley, but an illegal formation penalty negated it. On the second drive, the 49ers took over in excellent field position due to a Rashard Robinson interception. Hoyer completed his only pass of the day on this drive: a short check down over the middle to Carlos Hyde. On his last pass of the day, he tried to fit a slant route into tight coverage, but the pass was slightly behind Kerley and broken up. Unable to pick up a first down, the 49ers settled for a field goal.
The biggest takeaway from Hoyer’s outing is that he did not impress. Hoyer primarily was attempting short passes. All reports from camp were that Hoyer was playing well, and throwing the ball deep consistently. Even Peter King was impressed from his camp, commenting on Hoyer in his MMQB Podcast. That success in camp did not translate. To be completely fair, Hoyer did not get many snaps to establish a rhythm. Hoyer also was playing against a team that he was famously awful against. In order to get a better idea if Hoyer is going to have a successful year, he’ll have to play more snaps. Hoyer should get more snaps in the next couple preseason games.
Unlike Hoyer, Barkley started his day in a good rhythm. Barkley played the rest of the first half, and led three drives. He was able to sustain three long drives which led to three field goal attempts. Barkley was playing against a mix of first and second string players on defense.
Barkley started his night off with an impressive play. On a bootleg pass, Barkley stared down an oncoming pass rusher, and delivered the ball to the crossing Marquise Goodwin for 14 yards. Two plays later, he delivered a strike for a first down for 63 yards to Aldrick Robinson. While Robinson gained most of those yards on his own, Barkley’s pass was right on the money. It would’ve been a nice completion without the run after catch. Barkley’s final stat line was ten completions on 17 attempts for 168 yards.
Though Barkley was playing against a weaker defense, he still impressed. He seemed comfortable passing out of a bootleg, which is a staple of Shanahan’s offense. His poise to stand firm in the pocket and stare down oncoming pass rushers is a trait that is very hard to teach. Ultimately, Barkley had the kind of night Hoyer was hoping to have. The takeaway here is with most of the preseason buzz surrounding Hoyer and Beathard, Barkley established himself worthy of some praise and buzz as well.
Paying in his first professional game, Beathard started very slowly. As the game went on, he was able to establish a great rhythm and was very impressive. Playing the entire second half, Beathard looked the part of a third round draft choice. It is important to note that Beathard was facing off against the bottom half of the Kansas City defense.
Beathard started off slowly. On his first drive, the 49ers went three and out. One play saw him wait too long in the pocket before eventually going down on a sack. The next couple drives were uneventful, and Beathard took another bad sack. After that, Beathard played very well. His biggest play was when he avoided pressure, scrambled out to his left, and threw a deep pass on the run to Kendrick Bourne for a 46 yard touchdown. Though the defensive back had fallen down on the play, and the completion was relatively easy, Beathard kept his eyes down field while scrambling. Immediately after that play, Beathard connected with Bourne again for a two point conversion. He threw a perfect fade route to the sideline of the end zone. Beathard’s final line was seven completions on 11 attempts for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Beathard’s performance in this game is a perfect example of why it is hard to judge Hoyer before he was able to establish a rhythm. Beathard appeared lost and over matched. He was able to settle in, and had great success. Like Barkley, Beathard looked comfortable running the bootleg offense. Beathard also showed the ability to keep his eyes down field in moments of crisis. The takeaway for Beathard is that while he was playing against little of Kansas City’s first and second string defense, he still showed flashes that he could develop into a solid quarterback in the NFL.
Despite the success of Barkley and Beathard, it is important to not get delusions of grandeur. Not too long ago, running back Jarryd Hayne was super impressive in preseason games, then had little success in the regular season. It is also important not to be too disappointed in Hoyer. More snaps in preseason games should lead to more success for him. The biggest takeaway from this game is that all quarterbacks seem capable of running Shanahan’s system. Bootleg passes were called frequently, and all the quarterbacks looked comfortable running them. They also showed an ability to keep their eyes down field with pass rushers bearing down on them. The 49ers may not be great at quarterback in 2017, but if their game against the Chiefs is any indication, they will not be bad.
Embed from Getty Images