The 49ers’ preseason is over following a shutout loss to the Texans, which served as a compelling case for further trimming the exhibition season.
San Francisco produced a sloppy, error-strewn effort in which they were flagged for 11 accepted penalties for 104 yards.
Trey Lance played three series, finishing seven of 11 for 49 yards but rarely getting into a rhythm amid continually poor pass protection.
It was tough to take much from Lance’s display, but there were some things good and bad to be gleaned from a game that will have left everyone who watched clamoring for competitive regular-season football.
49ers' OL Depth a major problem
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Lance’s final preseason game could probably best be described as uneven. He missed some throws and his accuracy on passes where there should have been chances for yardage after the catch was a little off, but he looked comfortable throwing on the run when Kyle Shanahan drew up plays to get him out of the pocket.
Shanahan was forced to dial up such plays because an offensive line without starting tackles Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey struggled mightily to keep the pocket clean.
Lance was under near-constant pressure as left tackle Jaylon Moore and right tackle Colton McKivitz each endured nightmare games as veteran Texans defensive lineman Jerry Hughes thrived against both.
It was also an up-and-down night for the Niners’ prospective starters on the interior of the offensive line. Right guard Spencer Burford was called for a couple of holding penalties and left guard Aaron Banks was guilty of allowing penetration in the run game.
Both Burford and Banks figure to be more comfortable when they are playing next to McGlinchey and Williams respectively. Yet the lack of convincing options at San Francisco’s disposal when either of their starting tackles are missing is of substantial concern, particularly with McGlinchey’s status for Week 1 up in the air due to irritation to his surgically repaired knee.
The Niners can’t afford to have Lance running for his life when the games start to matter, and neither Moore nor McKivitz inspired confidence they are ready to step into the breach if needed in the regular season.
Ross bosses final TE3 audition
(Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
While Brock Purdy provided most of the explosive downfield plays for San Francisco, his fourth-quarter interception makes it difficult to judge whether he definitively did enough to usurp Nate Sudfeld as the second-string quarterback.
A position battle that may now be settled is the fight for the third tight end role behind George Kittle and Charlie Woerner.
Ross Dwelley was the Niners’ leading with three catches for 42 yards, most of which came on a 30-yard reception in the third quarter that saw him stretch out for an impressive grab.
That play, combined with the flexibility he displayed to operate at fullback and his previous special teams experience for the Niners, should be enough for him to retain his place on the roster ahead of free-agent addition Tyler Kroft.
Samson shows his strength
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
One of the few defensive starters to play in this contest for the 49ers, Samson Ebukam quickly proved himself far too good for an exhibition.
The defensive end registered a sack on the first San Francisco defensive series of the game and later produced a pressure that led to a Jordan Willis sack of Davis Mills.
Charles Omenihu also registered a sack in another illustration of the depth San Francisco possesses on the defensive side of the trenches.
San Francisco will rely on its stacked rotation to throw waves of pressure at opposing offenses in a formula from which it has derived much success in recent years.
But any talk of those further down the depth chart, such as rookie edge rusher Drake Jackson, threatening to perhaps take Ebukam’s starting role may be premature, with the former Los Angeles Ram looking a solid bet to improve on his 4.5 sacks from 2021 on this evidence.