SAN FRANCISCO — In their third preseason game, the San Francisco 49ers struggled on both sides of the ball as they fell to the Houston Texans 30-7 at very foggy Candlestick Park.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks intercepted Texans quarterback Matt Schaub on the first offensive play of the game for a 13-yard touchdown score that gave the 49ers a 7-0 lead. After that, the Texans offense got back into form with a strong dose of passing plays and play action passes to score 30 unanswered points.
Houston scored on three consecutive offensive posessions and capped it off with a 73-yard pick-six by safety Troy Nolan off 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. That gave the Texans a 24-7 lead going into halftime.
“The ones that hurt us were swing routes early on,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game. “We weren’t really getting the early pressure on them.”
Both Kaepernick and starter Alex Smith did not fare well as the offensive line couldn’t contain the constant pressure added by the Texans. Smith was sacked twice on pressure from his blindside and Kaepernick had to elude a broken pocket on several passing plays. Smith and Kaepernick both combined for 69 yards passing.
Smith played in the team’s first two offensive series before Kaepernick came in and worked with the starters. Smith would re-enter the game two run the last two drives of the first half. Kaepernick would take snaps from center for the rest of the game.
“We had problems here and there that we needed to correct,” said Kaepernick. The rookie completed six of his 16 passes for 52 yards. “Right now there’s still a lot of learning that we’re doing.”
“It’s frustrating,” said Smith of the team’s offense performance. Smith said that he wasn’t too concerned about the offensive line’s play, but felt that it was hard to see the entire team struggle in their third preseason game. “We’re all playing for our football lives. We all want to go out there and showcase our abilities.”
Houston scored on a field goal to close the early deficit to 7-3. On their next two drives, Schaub and running back Arian Foster carved through the 49ers’ first and second-team defenses. Running back Derrick Ward scored on a 1-yard touchdown run and Owen Daniels caught a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Daniels finished the game with six catches for 57 yards. Wide receiver Andre Johnson contributed four catches for 57 yards, including a 30-yard catch that help set up Houston’s first score.
The 49ers’ offense was the complete opposite, only collecting six first downs and gaining 105 total yards on the night. It was a sign that the offense is not where Harbaugh wants them to be.
“[It’s] a bitter pill to swallow when you’re beaten that thoroughly in pretty much all phases,” said Harbaugh. “We didn’t get any kind of rhythm going at all.”
Running back Frank Gore had the night off, which gave Anthony Dixon the start at running back while splitting time with rookie Kendall Hunter. The running game struggled throughout the evening, with Dixon gaining only 15 yards on the ground and Hunter rushing for 40 yards.
“I definitely have to get better,” said Dixon. The second-year back said he found out about his start during the team’s walkthrough. “It’s frustrating because we take in pride (in being able to score on offense). We want to be known as a high-powered offense. When we don’t perform, it’s disappointing. Nobody’s going home with a smile on their face.”
The Texans scored the only points of the second half, two field goals by Neil Rackers. The last one, a 30-yard kick, was set up by a fumbled punt return by 49ers rookie Ronald Johnson. It was Johnson’s second fumbled punt of the game,
Gore talks contract
Running back Frank Gore talked briefly about his current contract situation. His agent Drew Rosenhaus is scheduled to meet with the 49ers on Monday.
“I want something to get done,” Gore said. “Hopefully it can get done. Hopefully I can get something done. But like I said, if it doesn’t happen I’ll be here for my teammates, you know, and try to stick it out.”
There had been talks about potentially a trade request if an extension doesn’t get resolved. Gore said that he wants to remain with the team and hopes that a new contract is signed before the season begins.
“I want to be here,” Gore added. “I want to be a 49er, and I want to be treated right.”
Gore said that he wouldn’t get involved with any of the contract negotiations and he is hopefuly that his agent will have something done on Monday.
- Adam Snyder started the game at center but gave way to Jonathan Goodwin throughout the game. Snyder would then move to right guard. Snyder then returned to center towards the end of the first team’s run on the field.
- Harbaugh praised LB Ahmad Brooks, CB Chris Culliver, LB Larry Grant, DE DeMarcus Dobbs and NT Ian Williams for their performances on the day. Grant had four tackles and a forced fumble.
- The two sacks the 49ers gave up came on LT Joe Staley and LG Mike Iupati being overpowered by OLB Connor Barwin and DE Antonio Smith, respectively.
- FB Moran Norris started the game but was replaced by Bruce Miller after one play. Norris would return later in the game.
- The 49ers forced three turnovers on the day, which is a good sign. One interception (LB Ahmad Brooks), a forced fumbles from LB Larry Grant and S Madieu Williams.