49ers Kick Off the Preseason vs. Raiders; Six Takeaways from #SFvLV

San Francisco’s quarterback competition continues.

Third-year quarterback Trey Lance got the start in Sunday’s contest, and after settling in, ramped up production in the second quarter. He led the 49ers down the field during the team’s fourth possession, capping off a seven-play, 61-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown to tight end Ross Dwelley. Lance fired into the end zone and had his pass deflected by Raiders cornerback Duke Shelley and then snagged by Dwelley for the score.

“Dwelley ended up making a great play,” Lance said. “The defense made a great play, I didn’t think they’d be able to get to it. Guys made great plays and (the touchdown) ended up working out.”

Lance’s most impressive play of the day was a third down conversion to wide receiver Chris Conley, throwing over the middle for a 17-yard gain. He closed out the day completing 10-of-15 passes for 112 yards, a touchdown and 111.0 passer rating.

Sam Darnold took over in the second half, leading the 49ers into Las Vegas territory on two-of-three drives but had scoring opportunities fall short due to a turnover on downs, fumble and missed field goal. He was replaced by Brandon Allen early in the fourth quarter after completing five-of-nine passes for 84 yards.

“I thought (Darnold) did a great job coming in the second half,” Shanahan said. “You’re in there with twos and threes on the offensive line and same with the receivers and everything. We wanted to be careful with Sam for that reason, but we also wanted him to play too.”

Allen was under center for a majority of the second half completing five-of-eight pass attempts for 36 yards.

Defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell recorded his first sack in a 49ers uniform.

The former first-round pick signed with San Francisco in March after spending four seasons with the Raiders and has begun making plays for the red and gold. Ferrell sacked Las Vegas quarterback Aidan O’Connell for a loss of six yards to derail the second offensive series and debuted his signature fishing pole sack celebration. The Raiders went on to punt the ball on fourth-and-seven.

Cornerback Ambry Thomas continued his strong training camp performance with a slew of splash plays in Las Vegas.

Thomas lit up the first half, notching two big-time pass breakups and a run stop on fourth down. The third-year corner dealt with an ankle injury in 2022 that kept him off the field in the back half of the season, and he’s returned to action in a big way. Two plays after Ferrell took down O’Connell, Thomas defended a pass intended for wide receiver Tre Tucker on third-and-seven to end the drive for Las Vegas. His second PBU came on Las Vegas’ last offensive drive of the first half, preventing a long gain on first-and-ten. In the second quarter, Thomas and defensive lineman Kerry Hyder Jr. came together to stop Raiders running back Zamir White in his tracks and force a turnover on downs.

Rookie kicker Jake Moody made his NFL debut at Allegiant Stadium.

The 49ers made major headlines during the 2023 NFL Draft with their selection of Moody in the third round (99th-overall), and Sunday, he got his first opportunity under the bright lights of an NFL stadium. The rookie was perfect in extra point attempts and missed his two field goal attempts from 40 and 58 yards out.

“I’m not (worried about the kicking situation),” Shanahan said. “It’s unfortunate because I know the pressure on him, everybody’s looking and he missed those two today. He’s been great in practice. He’s hit them all. I was just excited to attempt a long one, which was fun, but the toes missed.

“He’s been great and handles himself well, so there are no issues with me.”

Wide receiver Ronnie Bell made a case for himself to take over the 49ers punt returner job.

The seventh-round pick is on a short list with cornerback D’Shawn Jamison and wide receiver Willie Snead IV to be the fill-in for the team’s punt and kick returner. San Francisco’s return specialist from 2022, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud III, is expected to be out for the next eight weeks after suffering a broken wrist in Tuesday’s practice. Bell served as San Francisco’s return specialist in the first half of Sunday’s contest, fielding two punts for a yard and three kick returns for 57 yards. He was also very involved in the pass game, recording three catches for 57 yards.

“I thought Ronnie did some really good things in the return game, he had the jet sweep and made some good passes,” Shanahan said. “His best route was the one he served up to him on the pick so that was unfortunate. I thought those (young wide receivers) showed some good things.”

Jamison and running back Jeremy McNichols each had the opportunity to split return specialist duties in the second half.

Turnover troubles stalled the 49ers offensive production.

The Raiders capitalized on a San Francisco fumble late in the third quarter and a tipped pass early in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points off those turnovers. The additional possession for Las Vegas coupled with missed field goal opportunities accounted for a large portion of the point deficit on Sunday.

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