Just two years ago, that didn’t seem like a remote possibility. Both franchises finished the season with a record of 6-10 in 2010. Last year, though, San Francisco was a fumble and one scoring drive away from a Super Bowl berth, and the Texans were a couple of injuries away from contending for one.
Here’s everything you need to know about their Week 2 preseason matchup.
Where: Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas
When: Saturday, August 18 at 8:00 p.m. EDT
Watch: NFL Preseason Live
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 112 or online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line: Texans by 3
What’s At Stake
The Super Bowl.
No, seriously. When teams are as talented as the 49ers and Texans, they can’t afford to suffer garbage preseason injuries to anyone that means anything.
Up against another talented team, Jim Harbaugh and Gary Kubiak, being competitors, may want to compete. They must swallow their pride, though, and realize that they’re coaching in a meaningless exhibition.
Leaving a starter in more than necessary—just one play too long—could be disastrous.
49ers Injury Report
When one 49er goes down with an injury, another at the same position has to go down too.
According to ESPN, Aldon Smith is questionable with a hip injury and so is Ahmad Brooks with a knee. Nate Bynum is also questionable with a knee, while Delanie Walker is doubtful to play until the regular season. Isaac Sopoaga is questionable after missing practice this week with an unknown injury—Ian Williams joined him suffering an injury on Monday.
Texans Injury Report
Houston’s injuries aren’t nearly as uniform or extensive.
Only two Texans are listed as questionable—J.J. Watt recovering from an elbow injury and Shaun Cody with a bad back. Andre Johnson has a groin injury, but he’ll still suit up against the 49ers (via ESPN).
What They’re Saying
Best hands? Carlos Rogers agrees with Jim Harbaugh about Michael Crabtree's mitts. Notes that Larry Fitzgerald deserves mention, too.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) August 15, 2012
Tania Ganguli of the Houston Chronicle tweeted that Texans wideout Kevin Walter’s expectations for their offense are quite high.
"'The sky’s the limit with this offense. ... it’s just a matter of are we going to hurt ourselves or not." #Texans WR Kevin Walter— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 15, 2012
49ers Player to Watch: Randy Moss
Randy Moss’ ability to revert back to Superfreak form will determine whether or not the 49ers offense goes from solid to great this year. In a good situation, Moss has never failed to record over 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
I’d say he’s in a good situation in San Francisco.
Texans Player to Watch: Trindon Holliday
Houston already boasts a top-five caliber offense and defense. While its return game is in the upper half of the league, Trindon Holliday boasts the explosiveness to make the Texans’ special teams unit elite as well.
Holliday ran one back against the Carolina Panthers and definitely has the speed to make a habit out of electrifying returns.
Key Matchup: 49ers O-Line vs. Texans Pass Rush
San Francisco’s offensive line is easily the weakness of its team. And even after Mario Williams’ departure, Houston’s pass rush is one of the best in the NFL. It’ll be a nice test for the 49ers to see if they can hold their own against a relentless front seven.
On the Hot Seat: Gary Kubiak
Kubiak’s job isn’t in danger this season. But if the Texans underachieve, he’ll definitely be feeling the heat next year. Houston is way too talented not to at least fight its way to the divisional round of the playoffs this winter.
A step back would be disastrous.
The Texans are home. They’re less banged up. And they have a better backup quarterback.
That’s always a reliable recipe for a preseason victory.
Houston by 3
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.