49ers' starting offense can't find the end zone in preseason loss to Colts

Matt Maiocco
NBC Sports BayArea
<p>The 49ers rallied in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to make a comeback after falling to the Colts in Indianapolis.</p>

49ers' starting offense can't find the end zone in preseason loss to Colts

The 49ers rallied in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to make a comeback after falling to the Colts in Indianapolis.

BOX SCORE

INDIANAPOLIS – Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo saw his longest stint of the preseason season on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts.

And the next time Garoppolo will be seen on the playing field will be Sunday, Sept. 9, when the 49ers open the regular season against the Minnesota Vikings.

Garoppolo and the 49ers' first-team offense were on the field for 42 snaps and rolled up 246 yards (5.9 yards per offensive play). But there was nothing to show for it, except for a pair of field goals.

Quarterback Andrew Luck threw a touchdown pass in the second quarter to lead the Indianapolis Colts to a 23-17 win over the 49ers on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in the third preseason game of the summer for both teams.

The 49ers' run game finally emerged, as veteran Alfred Morris might have assured himself a spot on the team's 53-man roster with 84 yards rushing on 17 attempts.

But the 49ers' passing game bogged down late in drives. Garoppolo completed just 9 of 19 pass attempts (47.4 percent) for 135 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 71.2. The 49ers dropped at least four passes with Garoppolo on the field.

Garoppolo played just 32 snaps total in the 49ers' first two preseason games.

The 49ers won the opening coin toss and deferred until the second half, a clear signal that coach Kyle Shanahan wanted Garoppolo and the starters to play the entire first half as well as the opening drive of the second half.

The 49ers' red-zone offense struggled, as the offense settled for two Robbie Gould field goals in their five possessions. The 49ers drove 75 yards on their second drive, but were thwarted when Garoppolo's fourth-and-1 pass to Kendrick Bourne at the Indianapolis 6-yard line fell incomplete.

Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard replaced Garoppolo at the beginning of the 49ers' second drive of the second half. Beathard led the 49ers down the field for Gould's third field goal.

Sherman's Impressive Debut

Left cornerback Richard Sherman played the entire first half and did not appear to show any signs of rust in his first game back since sustaining a torn right Achilles last season while with the Seattle Seahawks.

Sherman was held out the 49ers' first two games due to a Grade 1 hamstring strain. While playing every snap, Sherman did not see a lot of action come his way – and that's a good thing. Sherman broke up an Andrew Luck pass for wide receiver Ryan Grant on a quick slant.

Injury Report

Linebacker Reuben Foster left the game in the third quarter as he was evaluated for a concussion. Foster played primarily alongside rookie Fred Warner, who started at middle linebacker. Foster did not start but replaced veteran Malcolm Smith early in the game.

Cornerback Jimmie Ward exited the game with a quadriceps injury even before playing a defensive snap. Ward apparently sustained his injury on special teams in the first quarter. Ward has previously missed time in the offseason program with an ankle injury, and a hamstring injury sidelined him earlier in training camp. Ward's entire $8.526 million salary for the upcoming season is guaranteed.

The following eight players were not available for Saturday's game due to injuries: running backs Jerick McKinnon (calf), Matt Breida (shoulder) and Joe Williams (ribs), wide receiver Max McCaffrey (foot), tight end George Kittle (shoulder), offensive linemen Garry Gilliam (concussion) and Erik Magnuson (hamstring), and defensive back Marcell Harris (hamstring).

This ‘N' That

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon caught two passes for 62 yards, including a 47-yard catch-and-run from Garoppolo in the first quarter. . . The 49ers opened with Jeremiah Attaochu and Cassius Marsh as the team's outside nickel pass-rushers. Attaochu ended the Colts' first offensive series with a 10-yard sack of Luck on a third down. . . Dante Pettis had a 21-yard punt return in the first quarter. He also had a chance to pull down a touchdown from Beathard in the third quarter but cornerback Chris Milton was credited with breaking up the pass. . . Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas returned to action after sustaining a concussion in the 49ers' first exhibition game. . . Reserve center Coleman Shelton had a rough game. On the first snaps, both running plays, of quarterback Beathard and Nick Mullens, Shelton got driven back into his quarterbacks. Mullens fumbled and the Colts recovered. . . . Cole Hikutini and Cole Wick are likely in competition for the role of the third tight end. Hikutini failed to come up with what could have been a 19-yard touchdown catch from Garoppolo. Wick picked a first down with an 11-yard reception on a third-and-3 play.

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