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Texans-49ers Preview: Five Things To Watch

Here’s five things to watch for when the Texans play the 49ers.

NFL: Preseason-Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a certain beauty about two bad teams playing football against each other. To be so good at something at a comparable level, to work so hard all year and all week at something to be so bad is truly outstanding. Every day spent sweating and knocking eyes out of sockets only to run the ball up the middle for 2 yards a carry, average less than five yards attempt, and get splattered deep, is an astounding way to spend a life. Football is the best sport in the world to play when you are are strong or fast enough to be good at it and when all eleven just gel in unison. When you are bad, it is the most miserable endeavor. Your head hurts. Your hands get smashed. You watch helplessly while the opponent scampers in to score. And the worst part is you don’t even know real time why things aren’t working. You do your job only for the running back to get tackled for a loss of three yards because the quarterback isn’t keeping the zone read, something you don’t realize until Monday morning’s film room.

And so when bad teams play it is 55 minutes of brain numbing events. All coagulated together into a tasteless 17-13 mash. Then it eventually begins to boil, water evaporates, and the last five minutes are a hilarious affair of who wants to lose the most. Easy field goals are missed. Left tackles are beaten and quarterbacks are strip sacked. Eyes closed interceptions are thrown. Wide open passes are dropped. It’s a slapstick affair.

Tomorrow we are going to watch Houston play San Francisco. It is week 14. These teams have a combined six wins. It’s going to be an ugly, yet beautiful elapse of time, where terrible close game football is played. I can’t wait.


1.) Jadeveon Clowney

In 2013 we watched the Texans lose 14 games in a row. lol. That sentence is unbelievable to type, and even more unbelievable to have lived through. It was the most horrendous season in franchise history. But among the rubble of skulls and tailbones was one sliver of shining light. J. J. Watt was around making the mundane spectacular. Obliterating offenses, and derailing drives single-handendly, all on his own. Watching Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson fight was like seeing your parents exchange words at loud decibels before the divorce. But at least there was the eventual second Christmas whenever Watt was on the field.

This season is similar in that the worst way it could have gone pretty much happened. The only way it could have been worse would be if Deshaun Watson was more Blaine Gabbert than the greatest quarterback who has ever lived. Every other thing has broken exactly wrong. Close game losses. Constant off field drama. An entire hospital filled with Texans’ jerseys. Watching Tom Savage play multiple games.

Clowney is the rubber ducky in this bathtub of blood. He’s what Watt was in 2013. The Texans are still a good time if you only watch the defense, don’t watch the ball, and keep your eyes on Clowney the entire time. We are all living a worse version of our current lives watching this team play football. Clowney makes this version slightly better.

2.) DeForest Buckner

Buckner is the Sierra Nevadas personified. He’s a monster of a man. Strong and enormous. Quick and powerful.

He’s not on commercials because the 49ers are a bad football team, but if they ever become good he will be on the Sunday Night Football introduction, and schilling sneakers for the bourgeoisie swines who don’t care about you or I, and trickle down economics is a Horatio Alger lie to keep you down. This all will probably happen. Be cool and smart. Watch him. Fall in love briefly. And then whenever he is the man on the commercials you can be one of those terrible people that love to say I told you so.

3.) Jimmy Garoppolo

Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Phillip Rivers are all starting quarterbacks in the NFL. All our older men, and have already lived full lives. The amount of football they have left to play is starting to drain down. The sand is no longer an entire mass, but individual specks. And currently there aren’t enough quarterbacks to replace them. You think quarterbacks are bad now, wait until these men are gone and there is no one left around.

We need other young players to step up. Jameis Winston needs to learn to stop acting on so many dumb ideas. Marcus Mariota needs a new offensive coordinator. Andrew Luck needs a new labrum. Kirk Cousins needs to stop missing his receivers high. Blake Bortles needs to stop Bortling. Teddy Bridgewater needs to get back on the field. Some wildfire needs to spread from a second string spark. We need Garoppolo to be a good quarterback.

After spending his youth winning two rings and hanging out on the bench, and getting the best football education you possibly can, Garoppolo is out in the real world, having to fend for himself. The 49ers made the deal to bring him in. He’s been starting since last week. He will be starting on Sunday. He will be starting for the rest of the season.

Garoppolo looks like a quarterback. He’s as handsome as the red ranger, he has easy arm strong strength, he leads his receivers, he is accurate, he is tall, he his mobile, he matches all the aesthetics. His one problem is pocket maneuvering and learning how to deal with the pressure. If he can get this down he will be alright, if he doesn’t then the 49ers will either have to scheme around it, put the right players around him, or be forced to deal with it.

When the 49ers have the ball watch Clowney. When the ball is thrown watch where Garopoolo places it. After the play is over and replays are shown watch him and what he does. We need him to be great to replace the old guard. I hope he has a fine day on Sunday.

4.) DeAndre Hopkins

You could make the argument that the Texans should let their starters kick out the rest of this year, and live for the next season. You try telling Hopkins that. He’s a competitor. The amount of money he makes is tied to the numbers he produces, a production that he’s trying to get to a Hall of Fame level. Hopkins loves to play the game, you can’t keep him off the field.

And he is the only player worth watching when the Texans are on offense. He plays the game in such a unique way. Cutting up defensive backs for inches of space. Using his enormous paws to catch every bead in the grapeshot. Breaking the first tackle to slowly run for more extra the catch. Pristine isolated sideline routes that are master classes in perfection. Two feet tapped in bounds when Savage is doing his best to throw it out of bounds. Slight push offs to gain the extra bit of separation needed.

I’ve never seen anyone play the game like he does. He’s unique and interesting. Every target he gets is must watch. Every play he makes is a perfect display of beauty. Everyone else on this offense isn’t worth your time.

5.) Aesthetics

Sunday is Battle Red day. The Texans are going to wear all red. It’s cool. I dig it. It’s the only fun thing the Texans do that actually works out, the rest is lame as hell: the letterman jackets, turn down for Watt blaring, Mario Lopez flipping the opening toss, Vanilla Ice “rapping” at halftime, and the crowd yelling first down after every rare first down. Battle Red is fun though. The jerseys pop off. It’s like a high school homecoming.

In contrast to the red jerseys are the 49ers white tops and gold pants. The city of San Francisco itself is a hellscape. It’s 65 degrees there in the middle of summer, you have to wear a jacket at all times. It’s the inverse of San Diego’s always sunny 75. Despite their climate issues, the city has put out the best jerseys in the NFL. The red stripes sandwiching the white stripe on the helmet is perfect. The red and gold clashes like a lifetime of sunsets. If they wear red or white tops it doesn’t matter, it all goes together like nausea at a carnival.

Event though the football is going to be horrendous for two and a half hours it will be pretty to watch. Like putting on Planet Earth before bed, Sunday’s game will be pleasing to the eye, and the perfect thing to shut your eyes to until the dramatic happens at about 2:45 p.m. CDT.