As most of us are aware, this Saturday at 7:00 PM CDT, our Houston Texans will take on Jim Harbaugh and his 49ers team. Overall consensus is that if you wanted to watch a preseason game to get a good feel of where the Texans are at, this is the game to watch. Our first team offense and defense will be out there for about 3 quarters. I'm going to approach this post from both teams' perspectives for what to look for, though I'll make more points on the Texans since that's my team.
As for the 49ers, one of the things to look for is the battle between the QBs, Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick. Currently, Alex Smith is set to start, however, Harbaugh has stated he will be switching to Colin early in the game to evaluate him against our starters. Kaepernick was 6 of 8 for 52 yards against the Raiders, while Smith was 8 of 13 for 126 yards and an INT.
Another point to look at will be Aldon Smith. Yes, most of us here dreaded drafting him (including me) but personally, I would like to see what our coaching/scouting staff saw in him that made them want to draft him. I've heard he's looked pretty good so far even with all that raw talent.
Third, look to the running backs in the 49ers game. Frank Gore will most likely be out, however, Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter (OSU) will be the featured backs. The 49ers have a pretty solid running game and this is the best scenario for the Texans to test their run defense.
Another point will be how the Texans handle Braylon Edwards and Vernon Davis. From what memory serves, Vernon Davis gave us problems the last time we played them and he basically lit us up. How will our LBs and secondary respond to him? Braylon is playing for a contract next season and he'll most likely be matched up against our biggest free agent acquisition: Johnathan Joseph. Look forward to that battle.
Lastly, I would like to see what changes have been made to security at Candlestick Park since last week's debacle. The images at the game were frightening to say the least and both Oakland and San Francisco have promised tighter security. Also, there will be no tailgating after kickoffs and I wonder how the 49ers will handle that.
Now on to the Texans.
Depending on how the flip of the coin goes, the first thing I would look for out of the first team offense will be how they respond to the outrageous offensive numbers they put up last week. The 49ers employ a 3-4 D and of course, they have All-Pro Patrick Willis on that team. Will Matt Schaub start off slow? Actually more so, will the offense start off slow or fast? Are we going to rain bullets on the 49ers? Or will Arian stampede all over their run D? Or fizzle a bit?
After Arian Foster, who will be the first RB to come off the bench after him? Will it be Ben Tate or Derrick Ward? Derrick is the veteran and because of that, I got him coming off first, though I would love to see more of Ben. He's electrifying and I watched him playing in college at Auburn. He's got mad skills. After Ben's sick numbers from last week's game, will he respond the same as he did in the previous game?
Another position battle to pay attention to...
Who will emerge as the #4 and #5 WRs? Right now, the battle is between Dickerson, Maehl, and Jean, with no true winner in that category. Jean is injured, so we might not even see him play, but I really do hope a receiver emerges from this battle or we may have to look at other options in waivers.
If the first team defense will be on the field first, I believe most of us will be looking forward to the debut of Johnathan Joseph. He will most likely be matched up against Braylon Edwards and play possibly a half. How has he responded to the groin injury and will he play good enough for Texans fans to be ok with that 5 year/$48.75 million dollar contract we gave him? I say he will live up to his expectations. Speaking of secondary, who will start at CB2, opposite of JoJo? Will it be KJax or JA? Jason Allen has started at CB1 when JoJo was out, so I'll be interested in seeing who starts.
One player who's been taking heat on the radio is newly converted OLB Mario Williams. From the Jets game to the Saints, we've seen improvements. However, will we see the very first OLB sack by Mario in this game? My money is on that he WILL register his first sack. Will that first sack also quiet down all these rumblings from fans in Houston? I sure hope they do because it's preposterous to suggest trading Mario for Asante.
And, how is Brian Cushing coming along? Will he look better than he did last week against the Saints or will we forever debate that his rookie season was due to "outside meds?" Also, will DeMeco play this game? He has not practiced this entire week and if he does not play, who will step up in his absence?
One thing I would love to see is Brooks Reed being in the mix at OLB to give Mario and Connor Barwin a breather. This kid is oozing with talent and has been making the transition to OLB fairly well. How will he fare in dropping into coverage though? And how will he respond to a first team offense? I'm fairly excited about the possibility of him playing with the first team D.
Another topic is the competition at NT between Cody and Mitchell. Mitchell currently has a minor injury, but will he even see the field in this game?
Which brings me to the point, will Wade finally give us a glimpse of his blitz package? So far, Wade has been playing it vanilla but what I really want to see is a safety coming up to the line to blitz.
Of course there's a bunch of other things to watch/hope for but I'm getting too tired to type anymore. What about the rest of ya'll? What are you hoping for or what are you watching closely?
Note: Bumped to the front page for obvious reasons. - bfd