The optimism that surrounded the 49ers as recently as 4 weeks ago that had fans hoping for a shot at the NFC West took a huge hit of reality Saturday. The 49ers lost to the Texans 30-7, and looked dreadful offensively.
There was outscored by their quickly rising defense, as their only points came on an Ahmad Brooks interception return off Drew Brees in the first quarter. After that though, it was dismal for the 49ers in what's supposed to be most important preseason game of all. Alex Smith, of course, started behind center but completed just 2 of 6 passes for a whopping 17 yards and a pick while alternating with Colin Kaepernick throughout the first half. Smith looked flat out bad and it was hard to watch and there really isn't much else I can say. You can look at his numbers and they don't lie. Kaepernick looked like a raw rookie who's about 2 good years away from being able to compete in the NFL. He completed just 6 of 16 passes for 52 yards and another pick. Newly acquired Josh McCown did not get into the game, but after watching the way each quarterback played, it's hard to imagine McCown not winning the starting job, just by default. He's never really been a great QB at the NFL level, but has had his moments, and has never started for a team with the talent on offense like the 49ers have. McCown could be a better decision maker than Smith, though he likely doesn't posses the athletic ability or arm strength. Still, in the West Coast Offense like Harbough will run, all you really need is a reliable arm and good decision maker back there, neither of which Alex Smith has shown.
The 49ers are likely still hoping somebody they like hits waivers between now and the end of the month when rosters drop. I have no idea of who may be available or cut, but across the bay in Oakland, I think the Raiders have 3 guys who would become immediate starters in San Francisco, so it's not like they're going to get a top-level guy. I still don't understand why they weren't more active during free agency in looking for a QB. I know he's not a free agent, but Brady Quinn, I think, could succeed with this team, or maybe even a guy like Rex Grossman if he losses out in Washington. Somebody who's won in the NFL and can run this offense. The only positive they got to take out of Saturday's game, besides another solid defensive output, was the running game. The offensive line has been very spotty, but Kendal Hunter has easily been the breakout player of preseason and really looks like the real deal to me. He dashed for 40 yards on just 8 carries, while Anthony Dixon notched 15 yards in his 8 runs. In his 3 preseason games now, Hunter has racked up 169 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown. He's the clear-cut #2 behind Frank Gore and has shown enough to get himself a consistent role in the regular season too.
Trade Demands?! Apparently, Frank Gore, the 49ers and his agent have brought up the topic of a possible trade demand if the pro-bowl running back's contract demands aren't met. Sound like a familiar situation? The Titans are having the same problem with Chris Johnson, who is also know supposedly supporting a trade ideal. If that's the case, I'm a big fan of Frank Gore and all, but if the 49ers could somehow send Gore packing to Tennessee and bring back Johnson and give him the money he's asking for, I'd be all for it, and some. Hell, I'd even give the Titans a draft pick too. For my money Chris Johnson is the best back in the league and on a good team, and as good as Frankie is, Johnson is better... Not likely going to happen, but something to thin about as both running backs pout for a new deal!