The Colts defeated the 49ers at home in preseason week three, 23-17. In a game where the starters played into the third quarter, the Colts held the potent Jimmy Garoppolo-led offense in check. They were unable to find the end zone under Garoppolo, partly due to penalties and partly due to some excellent red zone defense. In ball hawk Malik Hooker’s return, the starting secondary had a very good performance. George Odum ended the game with an interception on the final drive of the game.
Malik Hooker proved to be one of the best center fielding free safeties in the NFL last season, leading the NFL in interceptions before his injury. Hooker looked great in coverage today, including a key breakup in the end zone. Chris Milton, Kenny Moore, and Pierre Desir both stepped up for the first time this preseason, blanketing in coverage and making key deflections. Moore and Milton both finished with a deflection.
Darius Leonard had a spectacular performance. He was solid in run defense and excellent in pass coverage. He was all over the field, making plays and disrupting Jimmy Garoppolo’s rhythm. The South Carolina State product finished with five tackles and two pass deflections, both of which should have been picked off. John Simon generated good pressure early but had to exit the game with a neck injury.
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Sleeper defensive lineman Ryan Delaire has another excellent showing, recording two sacks, one for a fumble. He has shown really solid speed off of the edge and technique in his last few games. Rakeem Nunez-Roches was disruptive all night, recording two tackles and one tackle for loss. For a young, inexperienced defense, holding Jimmy Garoppolo to no touchdowns and 135 on 9-19 passing is a step in the right direction.
On the other side of the coin, the 49ers starting offense gashed the Colts defense in the run game. Alfred Morris rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries and Jeff Wilson ran for 24 on five touches. All in all, it was a solid day for the Dungy age bend-don’t-break defense.
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Andrew Luck seems to have shaken off much of the rust, as he had a fantastic outing. Throwing 90 yards (8-10) and a touchdown to Eric Ebron, he looked like the Luck of old. He was fearless, moved the pocket, made good decisions, and fit the ball into tight windows. Adding 27 yards in the rushing game, Luck helped keep drives alive when help was few and far between. Jacoby Brissett had his inaccurate throws but he was tough, ran well, and made big throws. He flashed his arm on a 53-yard bomb to Seantavius Jones.
The run game struggled again this week. Against a strong San Francisco line, the Colts run game was stymied. In the third and fourth quarters, Jordan Wilkins had a very solid showing, finishing with 14 carries for 28 yards. He also caught two balls for 33 yards. Christine Michael also flashed good power and quickness, running for nine yards and a touchdown. Most of their success came against the Niners’ backups but it is still encouraging.
T.Y. Hilton showed his connection with Luck, catching two balls for 17 yards. Eric Ebron showed great speed, hands, and vertical ability, catching all five of his targets for 54 yards and a touchdown, where he high pointed the ball in the end zone. Chester Rogers unleashed a nasty spin move on his one grab for 19 yards. Even Darrell Daniels caught two passes for 44 yards and Daurice fountain caught a deep out for 14 yards. The offensive line struggled again. Specifically, Austin Howard and Le’Raven Clark had significant troubles blocking. The quarterbacks had to make something out of nothing often which is not a good sign.
Undrafted kicker Michael Badgley had a good showing, converting all three of his field goal attempts, including a 51 yarder. The Colts really looked good on both sides of the ball tonight. They head to Cincinnati for their next preseason game.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.