4 Down Territory: NFL Preseason Week 1 biggest notes and observations

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It was a busy first week of the NFL preseason. We saw some incredibly bad football, some incredible throws, and even Pat Mahomes taking some preseason snaps. As we head into week 2 of the NFL preseason, let’s talk about the four biggest storylines of the week.

Biggest storylines from the 2023 NFL Preseason so far

NFL Preseason

Aug 13, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) throws the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders at in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1st Down: 49ers walking a fine line

I think you can make a legitimate case that the San Francisco 49ers have been one of, if not the most talented team in the NFL since 2019. During their four-year run, they have had a sizeable talent edge all over the field, minus the quarterback position. Three NFC Championship appearances and a Super Bowl berth, it’s been the injuries and inability of their quarterback to come through late, that has been the difference in a dynasty vs “what could’ve been”. As the 49ers are heading into their last season with the majority of their core together, Sunday was another reminder of how they have not been able to fix their biggest weakness.

With Brock Purdy sitting out, embattled former #3 pick Trey Lance struggled against the Las Vegas Raiders in the 2nd half. While his stats (10/15 112 yards 1 TD) don’t look back, they don’t tell the whole story. Lance was forced to run for his life, getting sacked four times. His foot speed looked nothing like the guy we all saw out of North Dakota State, and when he had time to throw, it was a rollercoaster, to say the least. Lance’s touchdown throw was a horrific throw into coverage in the red zone. Fortunately for Lance, the pass was inexplicably dropped and then caught on the ricochet by Ross Dwelley. This would be the lone highlight in the 49ers’ 34-7 loss.

It continues one of the weirdest relationships we’ve ever seen between a respected franchise and a young top-three pick at quarterback. The 49ers traded everything for Lance and, while he has had some injuries, it just feels like a rotten combo of buyer’s remorse and forcing a guy to do something in a rough situation. Lance needs help and an environment that will let him learn and grow. The 49ers were/are in a championship window. The match never felt right.

I expect by the start of the season, we will see Purdy as the #1, coming off of a major elbow surgery, and then Sam Darnold as the #2. At this point, they probably won’t get any value in a Lance trade, so he’ll continue to rot in the Bay. This is a team that I really think is due for a Super Bowl win, but there are too many questions for me to feel comfortable making that pick. Maybe Purdy is the same guy we saw for two months last year, but if not, San Francisco will regret it.

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