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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

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49ers at Vikings player grades: Another UDFA RB gem?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 20, 2022 at 8:00 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 17-7, putting them at 2-0 in the preseason during a game in which only four starters, including slot cornerback Samuel Womack, were active in the game.

Here are the offensive player grades for the game:

Quarterbacks: A-

Looking at the stat sheet, neither quarterback stood out with Trey Lance being inactive, as Nate Sudfeld threw 13/17 for 102 yards and a touchdown and Brock Purdy threw 14/23 for 128 yards.

However, the quarterbacks were able to manage the game when given the opportunity, hitting the checkdowns when necessary and delivering three 25+ yard scoring drives, as well as a 60-yard Purdy drive that ended in a fumble.

The offense struggled in the first half, with the 49ers scoring just six points, with three of them coming on a 2-minute drill to finish the second quarter, but the quarterbacks weren't necessarily to blame as the running game failed to materialize, receivers dropped several passes, players committed penalties, and the backup offensive line was patchwork.

But, neither quarterback threw an interception, and while Purdy fumbled one handoff, dropping the overall grade, the play shouldn't have counted due to a missed encroachment call near the opposing endzone.

Despite the spotty pass protection, Sudfeld remained calm in the pocket, delivering on different throws, while Purdy was able to utilize his legs to move out of the pocket, avoiding several sacks.

Running Backs: B

At first, it looked like the running game was going to struggle on Saturday, as Trey Sermon looked indecisive and Ty Davis-Price tried bouncing a 4th & 1 rush to the outside, to no avail, when he should've run downhill to pick up the chains.

However, as the game prolonged in the second half, the running game finally began to materialize, as Davis-Price finally began utilizing his power and moving downhill for several nice gains, finishing the day with 41 yards on 10 carries.

JaMycal Hasty looked solid in minimal action in the running game, taking three carries for 15 yards, but dropped a 4th down pass on a wide-open checkdown to move the chains, dropping the overall grade of the position group. However, Hasty redeemed himself, catching the lone touchdown pass from Nate Sudfeld.

Trey Sermon had a dropped pass as well, continuing the uncertainty of who the 49ers will deploy as their primary third-down back.

Jordan Mason was the standout of the game, essentially carrying the 49ers on their final field goal drive with a variety of runs, including a 17-yard gain en route to a nine-carry, 57-yard game.

Right now, Mason is one of the best running backs on the roster when it comes to decisiveness and running downfield, which was clearly present on Saturday.

Wide Receivers: C+

The receivers weren't featured as much on Saturday, as both Purdy and Sudfeld looked to target tight ends more often when going through their progressions.

Malik Turner led all receivers with two catches and 26 yards, with Willie Snead and Danny Gray close behind, reeling in three catches for 25 yards and two catches for 24 yards, respectively.

Turner also had a nice special teams play, punching the ball out from Ihmir Smith-Marsette for a fumble, giving the 49ers positive field position on their next offensive drive.

Jauan Jennings's drop issues in the offseason continued on Saturday, as the third-year receiver dropped another pass early in the game, which was one of many drops for the 49ers on the day.

Gray had an impressive catch near the endzone from Brock Purdy on the 2-minute drill to end the half, contorting his body to do so, but was forced out of bounds by cornerback Harrison Hand.

However, on his other target, Gray dropped a wide-open simple pass on a crossing route where he just lost concentration, leading to an up-and-down day.

The receivers didn't have much action and also dropped two passes, hence the grade.

Tight Ends: A

The tight end unit might've been the most impressive unit of the day for the 49ers, as several players got in the action, with Tanner Hudson looking the best, catching a team-high five passes on six targets for 43 yards, including a nice 16-yard play.

Hudson's lone incompletion was a rare drop, as the tight end turned his head and began running before securing the ball.

Ross Dwelley was the second-leading receiver for the 49ers, catching three passes for 38 yards, while Tyler Kroft made an impressive 19-yard catch near the sideline.

However, Dwelley committed two false start penalties, which was an issue overall for the 49ers on the day.

All four active tight ends were featured on Saturday, as Troy Fumagalli even caught two passes for ten yards.

Offensive Line: D+

Before I continue, let me preface that the 49ers sat left tackle Trent Williams, center Daniel Brunskill, and right tackle Mike McGlinchey, meaning that Justin Skule, Keaton Southerland, and Jordan Mills all started for the team at those respective positions alongside left guard Aaron Banks and right guard Spencer Burford.

The offensive line definitely struggled, allowing three sacks and several more pressures, forcing the quarterbacks to occasionally throw the ball away or make quick decisions with developing routes.

Justin Skule had a rough start, committing a false start penalty on a 3rd & 9, before allowing a pressure on the ensuing play, as Nate Sudfeld was hit while throwing the football.

Keaton Southerland was consistently beaten, both in pass protection and run defense, allowing several pressures due to pure speed, as well as on stunts by the Vikings' tackles and edges.

Jordan Mills earned the start at right tackle, as I expected, with Colton McKivitz being inactive, and was up-and-down, although he played a significant amount.

Mills's lack of quickness was displayed, as speedier rushers were able to beat him, including on a sack play early in the game. While Mills has been one of the better pass-protectors on the team in training camp, the lack of speed doesn't correlate to Kyle Shanahan's normalcy with offensive linemen, and he struggled to block along the right side at times.

Banks and Burford looked pretty good on Saturday, with the former consistently winning reps, but struggling with the defensive stunts, while the latter didn't appear to give up a pressure.

In good news, rookie Nick Zakelj looked good in his reps at right guard, anchoring well, which hadn't always been the case during his reps in training camp. While Zakelj didn't play at center, which had been seen earlier this week at practice, it's a good sign for the sixth-round pick.

Additionally, rookie Jason Poe held up well at left guard, while mauling the run game, pancaking a Vikings' defensive lineman on a play.

However, center/guard Dohnovan West struggled when coming onto the field, losing his first reps in both pass-protection and as a run-blocker.

The offensive line was the weakest unit on the field for the 49ers, but several younger plays looked good during their reps, sharing optimism about their potential, be it on the 53-man roster or the practice squad.
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.

1 Comment

  • zinn
    You pinpointed the weakest skillset..The O line.. There is solid depth at QB, RB, WR's, D lone, LB and Secondary. It's the O line by a large margin and TE just on the cusp. Did see som good play from T. Kroft so that's important. It's going to all boil down to the O line. I won't sleep until game 3 of the regular season. Reality should be apparent by then..
    Aug 21, 2022 at 12:04 PM


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