Jim Harbaugh said the third preseason game will be the closest thing to a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. Even with less time to prepare for the season, offensive coordinator Greg Roman said they’re almost done installing the offense.
I always speak to Ted Robinson before every game for our Teddy Football segments. In today’s show, Robinson said he saw great strides from the offense last week. The starters may have only put three points on the board, but drives of 17 and 11 plays were promising.
Stay tuned to this blog throughout today’s game for quarterly updates.
What a way to start the game. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks read the screen pass and picked off Schaub’s pass, returning it for the score. The first play of the game probably could have gone a little better for the Texans.
49ers 7 – Texans 0
The Texans fared much better on their second drive of the game as they has several big plays, including a 30-yard catch by Andre Johnson. The 49ers prevented the touchdown. On 3rd and goal, Schaub’s pass was just high of Jacoby Jones. Neil Rackers connected on the short field goal.
49ers 7 – Texans 3
The 49ers picked up one first down on their first drive of the game. On 3rd and 5, Connor Barwin beat left tackle Joe Staley for the sack.
The Texans strung together another impressive drive, scoring on the 10th play. The 1-yard TD run by Derrick Ward gave the Texans the lead.
Texans 10 – 49ers 7
On the first play of the next drive for the 49ers, Smith hit Joshua Morgan on a rollout for a gain of 9 yards. That was the last play of the quarter.
Highlight Reel: Ahmad Brooks made a great play to start the game (also a terrible decision by Schaub), picking off the pass and returning it for the score.
Standout Stat: The Texans have run 21 plays while the 49ers have run just 6.
Put it in Perspective: This is easily the toughest test for Vic Fangio’s defense as the Texans offense always ranks towards the top of the league. The defense needs to be able to get off the field and get more opportunities for the offense. The coaches have praised Ahmad Brooks’ throughout training camp and he’s had a very good game so far. Even though he hasn’t recorded a sack just yet, he’s also had several quarterback pressures.
On the first play of the quarter, Antonio Smith beat Mike Iupati for the sack. That set the 49ers back and they had to punt.
While the 49ers has struggled to get anything going on offense, the same can’t be said for the Texans. They put together another drive of 11 yards. Even when they were backed up because of a holding call (1st and goal at the 20), Schaub was able to hit Owen Daniels for a touchdown. With consistency on offense, the Texans appear to be in midseason form.
Texans 17 – 49ers 7
Colin Kaepernick entered at QB for the 49ers next drive. After getting across midfield, Kap forced a throw into double coverage intended for Braylon Edwards. Troy Nolan picked off the pass and had a very nice return for a touchdown.
Texans 24 – 49ers 7
Kaepernick stayed in the game at quarterback for another series, but the offense went three and out.
On the next series, Madieu Williams made a nice play to force a fumble, which was recovered by Ricky Jean Francois. No peanut butter jelly dance for celebration, but still a nice play.
Alex Smith returned at QB for the next series. The 49ers weren’t able to convert on 3rd and short. Harbaugh considered going for it despite being in their own territory. After the two-minute warning, Harbaugh sent out his punt team.
The 49ers got the ball back thanks to a great hit by Larry Grant to force a fumble. The 49ers weren’t able to make the most of it though as Troy Nolan picked off Smith.
Highlight Reel: Grant’s hit sent the ball flying. The former Buckeye has had a solid preseason.
Standout Stat: The 49ers had just 3 first downs in the half.
Put it in Perspective: Jim Harbaugh cannot be pleased with his team’s performance. After making strides in last week’s, it looks like the 49ers have taken a step back this week. But just like the first preseason game, Harbaugh will use the “teachable moments” from today’s game to get his team better.
Kaepernick started the second half. The 49ers punted on their first two drives of the half.
On the Texans second drive of the game, Matt Leinart led a 9-play drive that end with a 47-yard field goal.
Texans 27 – 49ers 7
Kap got the chains moving on the 49ers next drive with a nice throw to Kyle Williams on a slant for 15 yards. That would be the only first down of the drive however. Kapernick did well to avoid the rush on 3rd down and tried to hit Kyle Williams deep, but the pass was too long. Curtis Taylor downed the ensuing punt at the 2-yard line.
Highlight Reel: Sam Paulescu did well in relief of Andy Lee, with a punt downed at the 2-yard line.
Standout Stat: The 49ers have managed just six first downs to this point.
Put it in Perspective: Now that both teams’ second units are in the game, the focus shifts slightly to players fighting for roster spots.
Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs is making his case for a roster spot. Despite being held, Dobbs still got great penetration and sacked Matt Leinart for a loss of 12.
Ronald Johnson wasn’t able to haul in the punt as it changed directions in the wind. It was recovered by Houston.
The Texans look advantage of the good field position as Rackers connected on another field goal, this one from 30 yard out.
Texans 30 – 49ers 7
The score wouldn’t change after that. After the game, Jim Harbaugh talked about his strategy for this game. He wanted to make sure some of the younger players got in the game early against Houston’s first string. He also wanted to make sure they got work in plenty of situations. For instance, with eight minuted remaining in the first half, Harbaugh treated it as a two-minute situation. He did not use that as an excuse, but clearly the end result of the game was not as important as the experience gained.
Highlight Reel: It was good to see Dobbs get a sack…while being held no less. Harbaugh singled out Dobbs as one of the younger players he felt played particularly well.
Standout Stat: The 49ers only had six first downs in the game. Alex Smith that was one of the most frustrating things tonight. He felt the offense was never able to get in a rhythm…which would be expected with only six pass attempts.
Put it in Perspective: Harbaugh made sure not to call this game a step backwards. He places importance on “teachable moments” and I’m sure there will be plenty of moments that he will use to get his team better. The experience of playing against the Texans’ first-team defense and offense is also very important. When the 49ers play a game that counts on September 11, they’ll lean on that experience they gained tonight.
It will be interesting to see how Harbaugh treats the final game of the preseason. How long will the starters play? Will the create situations like they did tonight? Will Kaepernick enter early again in order to play with the starters or will Smith see extended time in order to work out any final kinks.
It’s a short week too with the game on Thursday night in San Diego.
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