The San Francisco 49ers are probably not going to the playoffs this year, but Week 3's preseason game definitely offered a semblance of hope for fans who believe Kyle Shanahan can turn things in the right direction. And the turn could come a little bit faster than people expect.

Sunday night's 32-31 loss to the Vikings provided a couple of clear examples of why it's OK to be bullish on the 49ers as a better team than people expect in 2017. 

Defensively, there is a core in place, particularly with respect to the front seven. Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Elvis Dumervil represent an impressive group of pass rushers who helped to put the squeeze on Sam Bradford Sunday night, exposing the Vikings offensive line as not quite upgraded enough after the offseason additions of Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers.

Reuben Foster might be a guy to check out if you're making wagers on NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. For all the off-field flags, when you see him out on the field pursuing guys, he looks like he belongs. It showed on the very first play of the night from scrimmage.

Foster's play recognition is outstanding and his pursuit skills are excellent.

via NFL Game Pass

He has fantastic technique and just drives through guys.

via NFL Game Pass

Big and fast, he is a lethal tackler.

Offensively, the 49ers do not have a ton of elite players. But they have a group of players that can work in a Shanahan scheme. Going with Brian Hoyer as your starting quarterback is a sub-optimal move, but he is an experienced trigger man in that offensive system and went 7-6 as a starter under Shanahan in 2014 when the two were in Cleveland. 

Carlos Hyde was treated as an afterthought this offseason because he wasn't believed to match what Shanahan would want in a running back. But let's be real here: talent wins the day in the NFL, and Hyde is loaded with talent.

Marquise Goodwin looks eerily similar to Taylor Gabriel, who broke out under Shanahan last year with the Falcons, serving as a second or third receiver who can blow the top off any defense.

And Pierre Garcon, for any faults he might have (old, limited ceiling), is a really reliable No. 1 option and a potential target hog in this offense. The pieces don't have to be great, they just have to fit with what Shanahan wants to do and be elevated by the scheme. 

If that happens -- and it looks totally possible -- this is a team that can win six or seven games. That is, if you buy into what we saw on Sunday night, and the defensive front seven can manage to cover up any warts in the secondary. The 49ers might not have the easiest schedule in the world, and the division is going to be difficult, but there is cause for optimism.

Glennon gets the job (more or less)

Things were getting awkward enough in Chicago's quarterback room that Pam Oliver even asked Mike Glennon how awkward it was getting. Standing on the sideline during Fox's broadcast of Week 3's matchup between the Bears and the Titans, Oliver craned her neck and fired away a couple of questions to Glennon that were nothing short of pointed.

The lanky QB handled it well, but it underlies the bigger issue in Chicago, one we touched on last week: the Bears are in a weird spot. Fortunately for Glennon, he just made things a lot less weird by performing well in Sunday's Week 3 preseason dress rehearsal.

He finished the day 11-for-18 for 134 yards with a touchdown. His numbers were worse than Mitchell Trubisky's at the end of the day, but the numbers shouldn't tell the whole story this preseason, what with Glennon consistently going against first-team defenses.

It's also hard not to believe there is some inherent -- or perhaps explicit -- promise from GM Ryan Pace to Glennon about playing time in 2017. Glennon signed with Chicago to get an opportunity to start and while no one will feel bad for a guy making $16 million not to play football, you need to understand where Glennon is coming from when it comes to his playing time situation. 

He once sat for years behind Russell Wilson at N.C. State, despite coming in as a highly-recruited quarterback under Tom O'Brien. He never once complained. When he thought he was the future in Tampa Bay, after being drafted in the third round by Greg Schiano (who recruited him at Rutgers back in the day), he was displaced by Jameis Winston, the No. 1 overall pick. Such is life in the NFL, but once again, Glennon never made a peep. He was a good teammate in both situations and he waited patiently until he was free to find a place to start. 

Now he's on a short leash with Trubisky locked in as the long-term future. But he will have some opportunity, having acquitted himself well enough in the preseason to justify the decision by Chicago to start him over Trubisky when the regular season begins. 

It fits the Bears plan too: Chicago wants Trubisky to sit and learn, to develop in a redshirt season on the bench and in practice, at least for as long as the Bears are functionally alive this season. 

If the Bears get off to a terrible start, expect Glennon to get benched.  USATSI

That's where this will get tricky before it gets easy. There's almost no chance we don't see Trubisky this season. The Bears schedule is absolutely brutal and they are already down their top pass catcher in Cameron Meredith after the wideout went down with what is believed to be an ACL tear on Sunday.

Here is the Bears schedule before their Week 9 bye: They open at home against the Falcons, then travel to play the Bucs, are at home against the Steelers, at the Packers, home against the Vikings, at the Ravens, home against the Panthers and then travel to New Orleans to play the Saints. You've got to believe that 0-8 is absolutely on the table. 

At that point, it would be hard to imagine the Bears sticking with their guns and letting Glennon ride the season out. Maybe they're better than we think coming out of the gate. If so, Glennon will get a large portion of the credit, assuming the offense is productive. 

The NFL's new rule on defenseless receivers

Oft-penalized Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is reportedly facing a five-game suspension for a hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in Week 2 of the preseason. The hit and suspension brings serious attention to a new rule the NFL put in place this offseason designed to expand the definition of a defenseless receiver.

The addendum is in red here:

via Twitter

There isn't a better example of the new rule being broken than Burfict uncorking an unnecessary hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman during a 36-pass completion from Alex Smith to Travis Kelce in the first quarter of the team's Week 2 matchup. 

The shot isn't obviously "dirty" from an objective point of view, but it is clearly against the rules.

Given that the pass was not going to Sherman, that Burfict pursued him from the side without Sherman being aware of his presence and that the contact was clearly unnecessary, it should not be a surprise this is deemed illegal. Get mad all you want about the NFL GOING SOFT JUST LIKE THIS COUNTRY, but the rule is the rule. 

As for the suspension, five games is unduly harsh, sure, but Burfict has to learn his lesson. He is consistently endangering other players and his fellow teammates. If you want to make sure people follow the rules, set an example. And there isn't anyone better to make an example of than Burfict. 

Washington is a mess

A thousand "it's only the preseason" caveats apply here, but it is currently worth watching what kind of effect all the changes in Washington will have on the offense when the regular season begins, notably the departure of offensive coordinator Sean McVay to Los Angeles. 

The Redskins largely looked terrible in the early going on Sunday, with the offense failing to pick up a first down until there was 12 and change on the clock in the second quarter. And even that first down came on a read-option keeper by Kirk Cousins

Washington would eventually right the ship and produce both yards and points, but Cousins' final line is concerning: 10-of-19 for 109 yards and a 47.9 passer rating. He would also toss a pretty horrific pick-six:

Washington still has tons of talent on offense and, oddly, the best-looking player for the Redskins was running back Rob Kelley (a.k.a. "Fat Rob") who ran hard and ran well on Sunday. 

Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson is a loaded group of wideouts. But it's fair to wonder about the timing that Cousins has with those guys right now and if he'll be in sync with them once the season starts. It's also fair to wonder about Jay Gruden's ability to be the head coach and to call plays. That's not an indictment of Gruden, it's just a really big thing that's being thrown on his plate in a year full of transition for the Redskins. 

And that's why undefeated projections are silly

The New England Patriots will be fine without Julian Edelman. Tom Brady is one of the two best quarterbacks in football -- even at the age of 40 -- and with Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Rob Gronkowski and a plethora of running backs at his disposal, Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will not be without ample weapons to produce points. Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia will engineer a dominant defense; it's what they do. 

But the loss of Edelman, who suffered a torn ACL on Friday, is a big one. And Brady knows why: you can't replace the amount of time, the number of repetitions and the level of trust that Edelman and Brady share.

"When you've had that level of experience of game situations, practices, we've had so many hours of time together talking about routes and situations," Brady said on WEEI Monday morning. "So much of the quarterback/receiver relationship is about trust. I see things a certain way, and the receiver needs to see it the exact same way in order for me to be able to anticipate where to go with the ball. He and I have just had that; this is our ninth year together on the same team, talking about the same offense. We're so in sync."

Over the last four years, Edelman has averaged 133 targets in the Patriots offense. He is their modern version of Wes Welker, the devastating slot receiver who makes the offense go. Cooks doesn't have those reps with Brady -- he just showed up this offseason. Gronk does, but if he suffers an injury, his backup Dwayne Allen does not. Hogan acquitted himself well and Brady believes Danny Amendola gives the Patriots a guy with experience, but none of these players can replicate the security blanket factor Edelman offers his quarterback.

And it's a reminder about how dumb 16-0 predictions are. The Patriots are loaded on both sides of the ball and play in a horrific division with two teams who might be tanking. But running the table is something you rarely see because the NFL, unlike many other sports, is a cruel mistress. Edelman has missed time in the past, but this is a guy who was expected to be a consistent performer for the full 2017 season. 

Injuries pop up out of nowhere in the NFL and the operational sample size is so small that even the best teams can be banged by some bad luck. The Pats could still run the table, but it is substantially less likely. The Edelman injury is a reminder of how fickle this league really can be.

The Browns did the right thing

Which is not something you get to write often, so let's give them their due here: starting DeShone Kizer was absolutely the right move. This is a franchise that is not going to the playoffs this year (barring a big surprise) and is not going to win a Super Bowl in 2017. 

There should be one goal for Cleveland this season, and that is to get 16 games of evidence as to whether or not Kizer can be the franchise quarterback moving forward.

Starting Brock Osweiler is a waste of time; he might be better on a given day, or he might end up being better than Kizer over the course of the season. It's irrelevant. Kizer was a second-round pick and a potential first-round talent. There is no question he has the physical abilities to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. I watched him throw footballs INTO HURRICANE WINDS. A literal hurricane! 

The guy has the necessary tools to be good in this league.

Even if Kizer comes out of the gate and is a disaster for Cleveland, the Browns are still learning something. They put a strong offensive line in front of Kizer -- or whoever -- to mitigate the damage of starting a young quarterback. 

A full NFL season is a long period of time, but in terms of actually seeing reps from a young quarterback, it's secretly kind of minimal. We have an idea about a young signal caller after a single season, but nothing is concrete. Robert Griffin III looked like an unstoppable force a year into his career. Even after two years there are plenty of questions to be asked -- remember when Blake Bortles was about to break out following a big 2015 season? That's just in the last decade. 

The Browns owe it to themselves to get the maximum amount of on-field exposure to Kizer this season. What they find out will dictate what they do in the coming draft.