The Charlotte 49ers football team competed in their annual "Green vs. White" game this past Saturday, April 2. The team had been preparing for the last month, and fans saw many of the returning 49er stars in action and a few new faces, including on the coaching staff. Here are five takeaways from Saturday's game:
The 49ers have questions about backup quarterback
With the return of Chris Reynolds, Charlotte is set at quarterback for one more year. However, with this officially being Reynolds' last year of eligibility, Will Healy and the offensive staff need to begin grooming the next player to take over next season. Three quarterbacks other than Reynolds took snaps in Saturday's game: James Foster, Xavier Williams and Trexler Ivey. The backups completed only 38% of their passes for 221 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Foster's performance edges out Ivey's and Williams' just barely. No player stood out yet to take the spot. Although this isn't a big issue now, the 49ers must have a reliable player behind Reynolds, who's missed several games over his career, and also be able to take over in 2023.
The 49ers have offensive weapons
It's safe to say the 49ers have the most lethal wide receiver room in Conference-USA. Led by veterans Grant DuBose and Victor Tucker, along with the C-USA Freshman of the year, Elijah Spencer, Charlotte has surrounded their quarterback with an arsenal on the outside. DuBose had 43 yards on three catches and was peak entertainment during the second quarter when he took the stadium's microphone, talking trash to the opposing team's defense.
Tucker showed out in his last career spring game. He caught a deep ball for a touchdown to open up the scoring and totaled 86 yards, leading all receivers in the game. It will be very exciting to watch such an electric and deep receiver room in 2022.
"I definitely think we can be one of the best-receiving cores in the country; we're deep from top to bottom, every guy has a different ability, something special they bring to the table, so it's exciting…", said Tucker.
Run defense looked good
The 49ers allowed 204 rushing yards per game last season, good for 2,700 on the season. That historically bad run defense needed to improve from last year, and it looks to have been improved on Saturday. Defensive lineman Barutti Manzangu flashed a lot. He had multiple tackles for loss and seemed to be in on every run stop.
With Charlotte losing all of their starting linebackers from a season ago, it was interesting to see who would stand out from a group with so many young players. Redshirt Freshman Cam Burden had a great game and led the team with five tackles. If Charlotte's defense is going to take a step in 2022, it starts with improvement in the run game.
"Run to the ball. If you watch previous schools our defensive coordinator came from, they all run to the ball. If you do that and execute your assignment, we can be dominant defensively," said cornerback Solomon Rogers.
49ers have a deep and young running back room
It was impressive to see so many young contributors make big plays out of the backfield on Saturday. The 49ers have recruited a handful of talented backs over the past couple of years, giving that room the potential to be special. Freshman Johnny Martin, redshirt Freshman Henry Rutledge and Hahsaun Wilson all had big plays in the game.
Wilson had a 15-yard touchdown run near the end of the game, and Martin and Rutledge provided good plays in the short passing game showing off their versatility. In a running back room with experienced players such as Calvin Camp, Chavon McEachern and Shadrick Byrd, the youngsters may not see a lot of snaps this season. Still, these upperclassmen should help develop them into very good players down the road.
Charlotte ball-hawking secondary
The Charlotte secondary made several electric plays throughout the afternoon. With multiple pass breakups and interceptions from Geo Howard, Briston Bennett, and Juice Martin, hopefully, fewer big plays occur this season for the 49ers. What hurt the team a year ago was their proneness to give easy long touchdowns. Even in a game that doesn't particularly matter, the 49ers made opposing quarterbacks pay for trying them deep repeatedly.
"This year, we're focusing on executing plays. Our play calls aren't that hard this year, so it's not a lot of thinking; it's more playing," said Solomon Rogers.
Charlotte will head into the next portion of their offseason as they prepare for the 2022 season.