The second week of the preseason continues with games on Saturday, including one featuring the Denver Broncos at the San Francisco 49ers. Teams will be looking to see which players improve on their Week 1 performances and which players really grab hold of important roles. The PFF analysis team has all of the important battles and players to watch in this game:
Coverage by: Daniel Cohen
Position Battle: Trevor Siemian/Paxton Lynch, QB
- Last week against the Chicago Bears, Siemian earned a grade of 75.4, while Lynch graded nearly 15 points lower at 60.8. They played 20 and 21 snaps respectively, and had eight and 12 drop backs.
- On seven throws, Siemian had an adjusted completion percentage of 100.0 percent, as his one incompletion was a throw away. Lynch had an adjusted completion percentage of 66.7 percent, completing 6-of-9 passes. The competition continues against a 49ers defense that allowed a passer rating of 72.9 to the Chiefs last week.
Players to Watch:
- Shelby Harris, DI – The second highest graded DI last week, Harris earned an overall grade of 88.0 on his 37 snaps. The 2014 seventh round pick last played a regular season snap with the Oakland Raiders in 2015, a season where he recorded 11 total pressures on 83 pass-rush snaps. We’ll see if he can build on his stellar performance against a 49ers offense that last week ranked third in cumulative grading.
- Isaiah McKenzie, WR – McKenzie, a rookie wide receiver out of Georgia, caught his lone target for a 47-yard touchdown last week against the Bears. He ran nine routes, for a 5.22 yards per route run average. With fellow rookie WR Carlos Henderson out with a thumb injury, McKenzie is the rookie receiver to watch against the 49ers, as he’s likely to see more than the 12 snaps he saw last week.
- Brendan Langley, CB – Langley didn’t have a great week against the Bears, earning a grade of just 45.9. Listed as second string right cornerback, Langley will have to fare better in week two if he is to maintain his spot ahead of CB Lorenzo Doss. Doss graded a 73.2 last week, though he allowed one more reception and 22 more yards than Langley.
Coverage by: David Neumann
Position Battle: Matt Barkley/C.J. Beathard, QB2
- C.J. Beathard is pushing Matt Barkley to be Brian Hoyer’s top backup sooner than most expected, and will work as San Francisco’s No. 2 quarterback against the Broncos this week. One week is hardly a large enough sample to draw meaningful conclusions, but the rookie quarterback earned a solid 72.3 overall grade for his efforts against the Chiefs. Beathard showed encouraging signs under pressure in his first NFL action, completing his only two pressured attempts for 53 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown toss to Kendrick Bourne on third and 11 early in the fourth quarter.
- Barkley’s performance against the Chiefs did little to diminish his chances of holding on to the job, as his 80.5 overall grade ranked sixth among quarterbacks during the first full week of the preseason. Kyle Shanahan’s offense utilizes play action heavily, and that’s where Barkley did most of his damage in Kansas City. Barkley used a play fake on 38.9 percent of his dropbacks, completing five of seven attempts for 128 yards, the second-highest yardage total on play action of the week.
Players to Watch:
- Kendrick Bourne, WR — No 49ers wideout did more to help themselves out in the preseason opener than Bourne, who caught four of seven targets for 88 yards and a score. San Francisco’s quarterbacks posted a 141.6 passer rating when targeting Bourne, and the undrafted rookie’s 87.0 overall grade earned him a spot on PFF’s Team of the Week.
- Solomon Thomas, ED — The 49ers’ top selection in the draft looked like he belonged in his first preseason action. Thomas earned the team’s highest overall grade in the preseason opener (87.5) and was a standout rushing the passer from the interior, leading the team with three quarterback pressures on 17 pass-rush snaps.
- Rashard Robinson, CB — The Rashard-Robinson-hype-train that’s been rolling all throughout the offseason received a splash of cold water in Kansas City. Despite only playing 14 snaps, Robinson allowed three receptions on four targets for 70 yards, allowing both Tyreek Hill and Chris Conley to slip behind him down the sideline for big gains. The promising young cornerback is still San Francisco’s top player at the position, but he’ll undoubtedly be looking for a bounce-back effort against the Broncos.