49ers vs. Texans: Live Preseason Week 2 Report Card for San Francisco
The second week of preseason didn't quite go as well as the first for the 49ers, but nonetheless, not all was bad, and certain units managed to keep up their high level of play.
Grades were in real time and updated after every quarter. Specific player grades for all the notable performances were added at game's end.
Alex Smith: B
Colin Kaepernick: C
Josh Johnson: C+
Scott Tolzien: C-
The only quarterback who seemed to have a productive night was starter Alex Smith. All three backups left plenty of throws on the field with major room for improvement.
Kaepernick's legs are always an asset, but both he and Josh Johnson need to spend some time working on their touch. I saw too many throws that sailed way too far out in front of the wide receiver.
Quarter 1: B
Quarter 2: C+
Quarter 3: C
Quarter 4: C-
Alex Smith made a couple of impressive throws, especially on third down. One of the bigger third-down throws went for 24 yards and extended the drive, which allowed the 49ers to put three points on the board.
Kaepernick was in control of the offense for most of the second quarter. Like last week, his legs were on full display, and he had a nice 12-yard run on his first series. However, his passing wasn't as encouraging. One of his passes should have been picked for a score, and another was floated over the head of the receiver.
Kaepernick opened the third quarter and was given two more series to showcase what he could offer the offense. But it was little to nothing. He hit Kyle Williams for a seven-yard gain early, but he failed to extend the drive, overthrowing Anthony Dixon in the flat.
Johnson took over on the final drive and targeted rookie A.J. Jenkins twice. One ball was a beautiful throw down the sideline, and the other was a long miscue that could have easily been a touchdown, as Jenkins got behind the coverage.
A majority of the fourth quarter saw Tolzien fail to do much of anything. He didn't look as sharp or impressive as last week, but really, no quarterback did. A very average night for all four of them.
Frank Gore: B+
Brandon Jacobs: B
Kendall Hunter: A
LaMichael James: B-
All four of the featured running backs seemed to bring their A-game tonight. Each player had at least one run of eight yards or more.
The only sour note was that both Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James went down with injuries. Lower extremity injuries are hard to speculate on, so I will pass on that. But 49ers fans should remain hopeful that both players will be ready to go by the regular season opener.
Even though Kendall Hunter had a couple of missed blocks in pass protection, Brandon Jacobs, Frank Gore and Hunter all showed explosion on their runs.
Jacobs was carted off the field with an apparent left knee injury in the first quarter, but Hunter picked back up right where he left off. And his second-quarter performance was even more effective.
Anthony Dixon also saw a couple of carries, but he failed to pick up more than a few yards on the two carries.
Rock Cartwright and James shouldered the load in the second half. Cartwright only managed four yards on four carries while James was carted back to the locker room with an injury at the end of the fourth quarter.
No word on the severity of Jacobs and James' injuries, but luckily, Gore and Hunter are a solid one-two punch.
Randy Moss: B
A.J. Jenkins: C+
Tedd Ginn Jr.: C+
As a whole, my team grades reflect just how average this group was. Even though Moss dropped a very catchable ball down the sidelines, he was the most productive out of all the wideouts. Tedd Ginn's big 24-yard catch earned him praise, and A.J. Jenkins' ability to get open was encouraging for his development.
Ginn had a big catch on the third-down play, as I mentioned previously, but busted routes from Manningham and Crabtree lowered this unit's first-quarter grade.
The passing game really never got going in the second quarter after Kaepernick entered the game, but the receivers could be partially to blame considering Moss had a blatant drop down the left sideline.
Jenkins came on strong during the third quarter. He showed great ability, getting open consistently for quarterback Josh Johnson. His three targets were second-highest on the team, as only Moss had more with four.
Vernon Davis: C
Konrad Reuland: C+
Smith, Kaepernick, Johnson and Tolzien all had trouble getting the tight end involved. Vernon Davis had an early pass that went right off his hands, but he redeemed himself by throwing a nice block on a long Kendall Hunter run.
Like Davis, Konrad Reuland made his money blocking in the running game. He didn't have any big seal blocks, but he showed that he could win his one-on-one battles.
Davis had a couple of off-setting plays, as he threw a nice block that sprung Kendall Hunter. But the wide-open drop negated the nice block.
In the first half, the 49ers tight ends showed some impressive blocking in the run game, yet not one tight end caught a pass. Not a whole lot of targets with Kaepernick in the game either.
The second half ended up hardly being any better than the first, as Reuland was the only tight end to catch a pass all night long. However, their blocking skills in both the run game and pass protection held up well, as a lot of the outside runs were sprung because of this unit.
Mike Iupati: A
Jonathan Goodwin: B+
Joe Staley: B
During the first half against the Texans, the 49ers ran the ball exceptionally well. There were three players who could thanked for that: Mike Iupati, John Goodwin and Joe Staley. All three opened up huge holes and got to the second level on more than one occasion.
The offensive line did a solid job, as the 49ers' rushing game knocked out big run after big run. Most notably, Iupati showed the ability to get to the second level on his blocks.
A weird penalty on offensive tackle Staley set the team back on a crucial third down, and then they generated no push on a fourth-down run. However, they opened a couple of big holes for Kendall Hunter, which led to another field goal midway through the quarter.
The second- and third-team units only received C+ grades because they struggled to open up holes in the second half. Regardless, if Cartwright and James are your No. 1 backs, a hole is a hole. I don't know many running backs who don't like a wide-open lane.
Justin Smith: B
Matthew Masifilo: B+
Ricky Jean Francois: C
Justin Smith and the rest of the first-team defensive line started the game by keeping defenders off of all-pro linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. The second and third units were solid for the most part, but they did have a couple mix-ups on Justin Forsett's runs.
Overall, an above-average performance from these three men.
Smith and the boys got some decent push up front and opened up the gaps for the linebackers to shoot in the run game. The Texans had a couple decent runs, but nothing too major.
There was no interior pass rush to speak of in the second, as the Texans' first-team offense moved the ball up and down the field with ease. I realize it was Houston's ones against the 49ers' twos, but the defensive line showed little resistance.
It's not hard to see that the 49ers' backup defensive lineman don't come close to their starting unit, but they do play hard and add solid depth to an already-stacked defensive line. Masifilo was a player who really flashed at times in run defense.
Patrick Willis: A
Navarro Bowman: C
Eric Bakhtiari: B
Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman got off to polarizing starts. Willis started the game by punishing the Texans' offensive players as they would come across the middle. Bowman did an okay job in the run game, but was picker on a couple times by Matt Schaub.
Eric Bakhtiati followed up an impressive opening-week performance with an equally impressive second game. He was all over the field, taking advantage of his increased playing time.
Willis was the most visible of the linebackers. He had back-to-back tackles a couple different times. Bowman gave up a couple easy completions, but other than that, things looked pretty encouraging.
The second-team linebackers played okay, but as a whole, the linebacking corp missed the edge pass rush of Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. Little pressure was generated in the second quarter, but they did do an okay job in coverage.
Once the full-time starters left the field, things seemed to stay productive and maybe even ramped up a little. After a strong game against the Vikings, Bakhtiari was at it again, piling up seven tackles and a quarterback hit.
Carlos Rogers: C+
Tramaine Brock: D
Tramaine Brock had a tough assignment, as he was asked to try and shut down Houston's emerging receiver, Lester Jean. Jean has every physical advantage over Brock, which is why it was such a huge challenge.
Carlos Rogers had a miscue for the second straight week. Nonetheless, one can't take a way from the ability of Andre Johnson, who made a great leaping catch.
The 49ers' secondary didn't give up a whole lot in terms of yardage. The Texans moved the ball on their first drive, but went three-and-out on their second drive. Very tight coverage for the most part.
A D- might be generous, as Andre Johnson and Lester Jean both did their fair share of damage. Jean had three catches for 33 yards and Johnson had a long 43-yard catch early in the quarter. Brock was exploited by the bigger, more physical Jean.
As soon as Matt Schaub left the game, the Texans' passing game came crashing back to earth. San Francisco only gave up 50 yards passing in the second half, but I couldn't give them an A, as they had a couple of late penalties.
David Akers: A
Andy Lee: B+
SF's Coverage Unit: F
David Akers made all three of his field-goal attempts, and Andy Lee averaged 53.3 yards a punt. Both had solid outings and picked up where they left off from last year.
However, two solid outings were overlooked by a complete let down on punt coverage. Giving up a special-teams touchdown is flat-out unacceptable.
Akers showed he still can boom it, as he kicked a 52-yard field goal to get the 49ers on the board.
Overall, the coverage units looked good, and Akers added another field goal from 36 yards out. The returns have been mediocre at best, but there have not been any gaffes that gave up major yards up to this point.
All the way through the third quarter, coverage units remained solid. Lee was skying punts, and David Akers did his best to keep the 49ers in the game.
However, when the fourth quarter rolled around, Trindon Holliday decided he wanted another punt return for a touchdown this week. And 87 yards later, he got his wish.
An F seems fair, as the coverage and tackling were horrendous on Holliday's return.
John Harbaugh: B
Greg Roman: C+
Vic Fangio: B-
I could have done without Jim Harbaugh's wasted timeouts in the first half, but it is preseason, and there is a lot of miscommunication with the different personnel packages.
Greg Roman's play-calling was good and well-executed in the first quarter, but it lacked creativity overall in the second half.
Vic Fangio didn't dial up anything too exotic, but the base play calls were spot on, and the energy level he got out of the first-team defense was encouraging.
Not a whole lot of complaints in terms of the coaching staff. I thought the offensive play-calling was strong. San Francisco did a nice job of taking a couple of shots downfield, as the team tried to hit both Manningham and Ted Ginn.
With Kaepernick in the game, the calls got interesting, as they ran some zone-read plays. The team was little conservative at times, but like the first quarter, it took a couple of shots. I wasn't a huge fan of the fourth-down attempt, but I realize it's preseason.
As the game wore on, I couldn't tell what was getting worse: the coaching or the quarterback play. I know Harbaugh has made it clear that absolutely zero game-planning goes into these preseason games, but it would be nice to see a few more complex plays called in the third and fourth quarter.