file photo by sfgate.com: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, right, throws a pass at the team’s NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, July 29, 2019
By: Joe Lami
SANTA CLARA — Despite sitting nearly 30 players in their pre-season opener, the 49ers couldn’t stay away from the injury bug on Saturday night’s 17-9 win over the Cowboys.
Expected swing lineman, Shon Coleman, went down during San Francisco’s third offensive play of the game. Ruled with an ankle injury, he was put in an air cast and carted off the field.
The injury to the back-up tackle could be a huge storyline this season since he’s listed as the number two to both LT Joe Staley and RT Mike McGlinchey.
Reports also surfaced during the game that wide receiver Trent Taylor had surgery on a broken pinkie toe on Friday. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the pre-season but hopes to come back early in the regular season via a message from Instagram.
Both running back Raheem Mostert and defensive lineman DJ Jones went down for the conclusion of the contest. Mostert suffered a concussion, while Jones went out with a knee.
The battle for the back-up quarterback spot has been highlighted through camp so far. Despite their records, both Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard are neck and neck heading into the first game.
Mullens played the entire first half on Saturday night, throwing 11 of 17 for 105 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Mullens found third-round rookie Jalen Hurd for the half’s only touchdown. Chalk the interception up to Mullens getting hit during a throw.
CJ Beathard saw the field in the second half. On his first drop back, he was sacked for five yards but fared better as his night went on. Finishing 13 of 17 for 145 yards, Beathard threw a pick and a TD to Hurd.
The Niners defense held up for the most part. Bending at most times but not breaking, they forced the Cowboys to kick three field goals. Dak Prescott started the first drive for Dallas, going four-of-four for 23 yards before stalling and forced to kick a field goal.
Penalties once again remain a concern for the Niners and could be a significant sign of things to come, as they committed 18 penalties for 216 yards. In both seasons under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers have finished in the bottom third of the NFL in penalties committed and Saturday night was glaring.
Three rookies made an impression on Saturday night. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw made the immediate impression; tallying five tackles in the first half, including four on Cowboys’ opening drive. His pursuit is noticeable and it’s obvious the fifth-round pick from Arkansas has a nose for the football.
At times, he over pursuits; picking up a roughing the passer penalty after getting to the QB too late. However, on the next play, he continued to show aggressiveness getting a tackle for loss.
Jalen Hurd’s first catch in a 49er uniform found paydirt. After a play-action rollout from Mullens, Hurd broke one tackle and battled through another defender past the goal line. Hurd added his second of the night when Beathard found him in the left corner of the end zone to start the fourth quarter.
After spending three seasons at Tennessee as a running back, Hurd converted to wide receiver while transferring to Baylor. The 6-foot-5-inch receiver has the size and means streak to become San Francisco’s answer to poor red-zone performance.
We saw second-round pick Debo Samuel get the ball once, but the kid can fly. He was able to turn the corner on a jet sweep and pick up 14 yards like it was nothing. In the third quarter, he climbed the ladder on a 45-yard reception hopping over a Cowboys’ DB to make the snag.
He finished for a combined 75 yards on five touches. He will be fun to watch as the pre-season continues.