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Things I Noticed: Texans v 49ers


I'll preface all of this by stating my picture was grainy for this broadcast and occasionally interrupted by honey-do items. Still, there were some noteworthy items.

  • First team offense looked like it could and would be able to eat up the 49ers secondary in a regular season matchup. That said, the 49ers were without Justin Smith and Aldon Smith, two of their best pass rushers. Schaub had a LOT of time to throw the ball. With the Smiths back, Schaub would not likely have that luxury again.
  • The third-down bubble screen to Arian Foster on the first drive was flawed for a few reasons. Either Schaub threw it behind Arian or Arian wasn't in position or didn't go meet the ball as expected. Regardless, it did not look well executed. On top of that, Newton didn't make his block on the safety. Granted, that could be as much due to a great recognition by Donte Whitner as it could have been a bad play by Newton. Either way, the combination of these events led to a 2-yard gain for what could have been, if properly executed, a fairly easy first down.
  • I didn't notice Antoine Caldwell (or "Gump" as Kubiak calls him) in this game. That's good because, to me, that means he handled his business.
  • To Newton's credit, I did notice him on another early pass play create a good pocket for Schaub by directing his man's pass rush in a long arc beyond the pocket. It wasn't a stonewall, but he at least made sure his guy wasn't a threat.
  • The run game just could not get going. I haven't re-watched the broadcast yet (glad NFLN re-ran it so I could record it though), but what I did notice seemed to indicate that our inability to run was more a credit to SF's front-seven rather than a detriment to ours. Granted, a Brisiel/Winston right side likely would have yielded better results, but I'm not sure they would have been much better. SF routinely closed holes and running lanes by throwing bodies at them, the result of a well coached front seven moreso than any individual effort.
  • Speaking of, SF is built to win in the trenches, both defensively and offensively. While we got a good pash rush going, we had problems stopping runs up the middle (as we did last year, and as Wade's 3-4 scheme is known to have problems with). Now, this point is BOTH a credit to SF and a detriment to us. SF has a big, physical, road-grading OL. We have a smaller, nimbler DL. We got pushed around, and unlike SF, we couldn't clog running lanes with bodies. LBs got routinely washed out. I've seen a lot of fingers pointed at Bradie James, and while he may have had a bad game, the whole front seven looked poor against power runs.
  • That said, the front seven was once again beastly in the pass rush. I almost felt sorry for Alex Smith. Almost. On the downside though, it seemed like the first few power runs by SF caught our defense in pass rush mode. It's almost as if that's all we wanted to do was pass rush (understandable I suppose since it is more fun) and so we just kept doing it until the third power run or so.
  • KJax had another solid game. Not great, but definitely showing progress. His first year, he gave up more YAC than any other DB in the NFL. For at least one play, we was on Randy Moss immediately after the catch. Randy Moss did catch JJo on a double move that left Moss a couple of yards to the inside and deeper than JJo. It was a touchdown if Alex Smith would have seen it (our pass rush distracted him though).

  • Brandon Harris had a great game, albeit against 2nd-teamers. He's looked better than McCain in two games thus far, but McCain has been going against 1s. I want to see Harris get some time against 1s to see where he's really at.
  • Speaking of going against 1s, Trindon has done well in returns against 1s. His touchdowns have come against non-starters though. Still impressive, but just keep that in mind before anointing him the second-coming (anointing him with a roster spot doesn't seem too far-fetched though, but far from a given just yet).
  • The final note on the theme of non-starters making our guys look better than they may be was the first-team offense's touchdown. Methodical drive by our guys, but it didn't come against SF's starters.
  • Oh, and to those who think Harbaugh is an arse for going for it on multiple 4th-and-1s...that's just stupid. It's preseason, time for evaluation. Who do you want to evaluate more, your rock-solid kicker or your potential 1s on offense? Dumb question, easy answer.
  • Kudos to our first-team defense for their 4th-and-1 stop. They seemed pretty darn exhausted though given their lack of celebration (preseason or not, seems like a 4th-and-1 stop is worth a little pomp and fanfare).
  • In a regular season matchup, I'm not so sure we win. SF looked like they could grind our defense up on power runs and our offense couldn't get the running game going (SF left points on the field with untaken FGs and our two touchdowns were not against their 1st teamers). SF is a darn good team.
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