Exciting Preseason Opener Sees San Francisco 49ers Face Off Against Las Vegas Raiders
August 14, 2023
The eagerly anticipated return of football is finally here, as the San Francisco 49ers clashed with the Las Vegas Raiders in a preseason showdown on Sunday afternoon. This encounter came on the heels of two intense joint practices between the teams earlier in the week. While many of the 49ers’ projected starters engaged in practice sessions, a significant portion of the top-tier offense and defense remained sidelined for this preseason opener. The game featured a roster of younger players, fresh draft picks, new additions to the team, and undrafted talents.
“We had the privilege of two productive practice sessions with them. I’m always in favor of that approach. Moreover, we put in a solid effort during the second day with the top players so that we didn’t need to include them in today’s lineup,” commented head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Shanahan expressed mixed feelings about the game, acknowledging that while he didn’t particularly enjoy the performance, it provided invaluable opportunities for numerous players to showcase their abilities. “Many individuals gained crucial experience through this, enhancing their chances of making it to our team. Simultaneously, it allows us to hone their skills further during the upcoming days,” he stated. The competition for San Francisco’s starting quarterback position continues.
Taking the lead at quarterback for the 49ers in this matchup was third-year player Trey Lance. After settling into the game, he demonstrated heightened productivity during the second quarter. Lance orchestrated a 61-yard drive, culminating in a nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ross Dwelley, marking the 49ers’ first touchdown of the game. The pass was initially deflected by Raiders cornerback Duke Shelley before being secured by Dwelley in the end zone.
Lance’s standout moment of the day involved a third-down conversion to wide receiver Chris Conley. Executing a 17-yard throw over the middle, Lance showcased his capabilities. By the end of the game, Lance had completed 10 of 15 passes for 112 yards, one touchdown, and an impressive passer rating of 111.0.
The second half saw Sam Darnold taking the reins, leading the 49ers into Las Vegas territory on two out of three drives. However, missed opportunities due to turnovers on downs, fumbles, and a missed field goal prevented them from converting those drives into points. Darnold completed five of nine passes for 84 yards before being substituted with Brandon Allen in the early fourth quarter. Allen concluded his appearance with five completions out of eight attempts, amassing 36 yards.
Defensively, notable plays were made by Clelin Ferrell, who secured his first sack donning the 49ers uniform. Having previously spent four seasons with the Raiders, Ferrell’s transition to the 49ers has been marked by impactful plays. His sack against Las Vegas quarterback Aidan O’Connell resulted in a six-yard loss, accompanied by his signature “fishing pole” sack celebration. The subsequent punt by the Raiders on fourth-and-seven showcased the effectiveness of Ferrell’s play.
Cornerback Thomas also emerged as a defensive force during the first half, securing two key pass breakups and a vital stop on fourth down. Overcoming an ankle injury in the previous season, Thomas made his presence felt on the field. His contributions were evident during pivotal moments, such as a pass defense that halted Las Vegas’ drive and a critical play alongside defensive lineman Kerry Hyder Jr. that led to a turnover on downs.
Rookie kicker Jake Moody made his debut for the 49ers, an eagerly awaited moment since his selection in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite an initial miss from 40 yards and another from 58 yards, Shanahan expressed confidence in Moody’s abilities and remained positive about his future contributions to the team.
Another highlight of the game was the performance of wide receiver Ronnie Bell, who made a strong case to assume the role of punt returner for the 49ers. With return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud III sidelined due to injury, Bell took on the responsibility, fielding punts and kick returns while also contributing to the passing game with three receptions for 57 yards.
As the game progressed, both teams encountered turnovers and missed opportunities, which ultimately impacted the final score. The Raiders capitalized on turnovers to secure 14 points, with the 49ers facing challenges in their kicking game that influenced the point differential.
The preseason opener provided a promising glimpse into the talents and potentials of the players, offering fans a taste of the excitement to come in the upcoming NFL season.