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49ers Preseason Game 1: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

Marc Adams
Aug 15, 2021 at 1:56 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers played their first preseason game of 2021 last night, facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs. Though they lost the game 19-16, we were able to watch some young players, and some players on the bubble. The coaching staff has no doubt already started watching film and evaluating players. As we take a look at how the team played last night, here's a list of "who's hot, and who's not." (Note: Rookie quarterback Trey Lance is not on either list. He had good and bad moments, but ultimately, I left him off of the list because it's so hard to evaluate his play behind such a terrible offensive line. Maybe next week!)

Who's Hot?

Deommodore Lenoir: The rookie corner started the game and rose to the challenge. He had two tackles, one assist and one interception. He also had good coverage on other plays, when he was tested. I like his mindset. He's aggressive, physical and doesn't lack confidence. As thin as the 49ers are at corner, having Lenoir step up would be a huge boost for the defense.

Talanoa Hufanga: The rookie safety was everywhere, on defense and special teams. He is listed as only having two tackles, but I'm certain that's not correct. I would have thought he had ten tackles, based on how often he seemed to be in on the play. With the injuries at safety, specifically strong safety, Hufanga may play a lot on defense. Let's hope he stays hot.

Jauan Jennings: Jennings finally made an impact. He had one catch for 26 yards, and two carries for 23. And he looked good doing it. He looks quick and finally appears to be healthy. Maybe he can be the big slot the coaches have been hoping for.

Nsimba Webster: Webster gave the team a spark late in the game. He had 34 yards rushing, 18 yards receiving, and had a big kick return. He finished with a kick return average of 20.7. I doubt he'll make the team, but he looked good last night. I could say that Nsimba played like Mufasa, but I won't. I would be lion if I said I wasn't tempted. See what I did there?

JaMycal Hasty: Hasty started off on the "hot" list, but a fumble threatened to drop him to the "not" list. Fortunately, he came back strong, rushing for 63 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. He also added one catch for five yards, and a rushing touchdown. Hasty was the odd many out at the start of training camp, but with some recent injuries, he still has a chance of making the roster. He has to get the fumbles under control. His coach doesn't look too fondly on fumbling.

Trent Sherfield: Sherfield was almost guaranteed to make the team as a special team's ace. But throughout camp, he has impressed everyone with his ability as a receiver. Saturday was no different. Sherfield ran a great route, got open, and caught a long pass from Lance. He pulled away from the defenders, and scored an 80-yard touchdown. He might end up the number three receiver. If not, he'll still have a role on offense.

Who's Not?

Anyone playing right guard: This position struggled last night. First, it was Daniel Brunskill, allowing Lance to be sacked. Later it was rookie Aaron Banks. In the middle was more poor play from anyone who lined up at this position. The 49ers need to figure this one out fast.

Richie James: James had no catches, and only averaged 17.5 yards per kick return. That's not good. James has the talent to be the number three receiver, but he just doesn't step up. He may not make this team. James has been a big disappointment so far.

Travis Benjamin: Benjamin was probably the worst (non-right guard) on the field last night. He was absolutely awful. Benjamin had numerous opportunities; passes thrown his way, returns, etc. He did nothing. Zero catches. Only six punt return yards. I predicted that he would step up big this season. He's proving me wrong. Thanks a lot, Travis.

Jalen Hurd: I also predicted Hurd would come back big, and would be the number three receiver. He's making me look bad. Hurd has barely practiced, and did not play last night. For a guy hanging by a thread, that's not a step in the right direction. I no longer expect him to make the team.

Elijah Mitchell: Mitchell, another rookie, has performed well in camp. Many fans were excited to watch him play last night, but were surprised when he was a game-time inactive. After the game, it was announced that Mitchell will be out for a couple weeks with an abductor strain. To miss two to three weeks, in a crowded backfield, may end up costing Mitchell a roster spot. That said, I still think he'll somehow make the team. I doubt the 49ers will stash him on the practice squad though. It's too risky.

We should learn even more in the next week when the 49ers practice against the Los Angeles Chargers for two days, and then play them for preseason game number two next Sunday. Stay tuned.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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