Trey Lance

What we learned about Lance, Darnold in 49ers' preseason loss

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Following two days of joint practices that amounted to one full game of work, the 49ers' starters stepped aside Sunday.

The 49ers’ preseason opener against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium afforded the backups and bottom half of the roster to audition for openings on the 53-man roster and practice squad.

None of the 49ers’ projected starters on either side of the ball suited up in their 34-7 blowout loss to the Raiders. Likewise, Las Vegas did not suit up Jimmy Garoppolo or any of its notable players.

In other words, save your sweeping statements about the team — good or bad — for another day.

The first takeaway is that the 49ers who suited up for Sunday’s game largely will be former 49ers when cuts are made on Aug. 29.

Here are the other takeaways from Sunday’s showing:

Lance, Darnold competition

Starter Brock Purdy experienced his share of successes and failures on the practice field while taking 66 snaps of 11-on-11 action during practices Thursday and Friday.

Purdy made a handful of top-notch throws in Friday’s practice. He also had an equal number of interceptions and near-interceptions against the Raiders’ first-team defense.

With Purdy’s work for the week completed, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold took the stage Sunday to continue their competition for the backup job. Darnold delivered the ball more decisively and accurately during his half of play.

Lance started and had an uneven first half. He experienced a combination of breakdowns in pass protection and holding the ball too long.

He threw a touchdown pass, but it might have been his worst play. He threw late and across the middle for Chris Conley in the end zone. Raiders safety Duke Shelley should have made the interception, but it bounced off his hands and right to 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley for a 9-yard touchdown.

Lance made several nice throws, two of which came late in the first half when he hit Conley and tight end Troy Fumagalli for 24 and 22 yards.

Lance finished his day with 10 completions on 15 attempts for 112 yards with one touchdown pass, no interceptions thrown and a passer rating of 110.0. He was sacked four times for minus-18 yards.

Darnold stepped in and almost immediately demonstrated the throwing ability that made him the No. 3 overall pick of the New York Jets in 2018.

On his third snap, Darnold connected with rookie receiver Ronnie Bell on a 37-yarder down the right sideline. Darnold exited the game early in the fourth quarter, as Brandon Allen played the final 12 minutes.

Darnold completed five of eight pass attempts for 84 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 97.9. He was not sacked.

Moody’s blues

All eyes will be on kicker Jake Moody, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 99 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to replace Robbie Gould.

Moody showed off his leg strength in the early weeks of training camp with only three missed field-goal attempts — from 63, 43 and 53 yards.

His first preseason game did not go as planned, as Moody missed his two field-goal attempts Sunday. He missed one wide left and one wide right.

Moody got his first field-goal attempt after Lance moved the 49ers into field goal range. He missed a 40-yard field goal to the left.

Later, he sliced a 58-yard attempt to the right.

The 49ers are carrying two kickers on their 90-man roster, but hope to be able to flip veteran kicker Zane Gonzalez for a draft pick as the NFL-wide cuts to 53 players approaches.

Moody handled the kickoffs. Rather than instructing him to boot the ball out the back of the end zone, Moody successfully dropped directional kickoffs inside the 5-yard line.

Womack, Thomas come to play

The 49ers did not suit up starting cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir. That gave ample opportunity to backups Samuel Womack and Ambry Thomas.

Both Womack and Thomas came up big in an area the 49ers emphasize: run support. On back-to-back plays in the second quarter, Womack and Thomas made plays to force a Raiders turnover on downs.

On a third-and-1 play, Womack came down from his cornerback spot to team up with linebacker Marcelino McCrary-Ball to stop Zamir White for no gain. Womack had four tackles in the first half.

On fourth down, Thomas got his nose into the action to team up with Kerry Hyder to drop White for a 1-yard loss.

Nickel back Isaiah Oliver was the only projected starter who saw action. He surrendered an easy pitch and catch for Raiders quarterback Aidon O’Connell and slot receiver Keelan Cole for a 9-yard touchdown against Oliver’s off coverage.

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