San Francisco had a pretty good, tidy first preseason game vs. the Vikings at home, but they didn't fair nearly as well in Houston over the weekend.
The 49ers struggled to generate any offense vs. the strong defense of the Texans, and looked a lot like the pre-2011 49er teams because of it. Alex Smith, albeit a small sample size, didn't look nearly as crisp as he did in game one vs. the Vikings. 49ers' starting QB was 5-9 for 49 yards but was sacked 2 times and failed to spark the Niners offense. Frank Gore also got his first reps of the preseason in the contest, but only stuck around for 4 carries, which he collected 19 yards on before giving way to Hunter and Jacobs. Really the only good thing that came out of the first-team offense on
Saturday was they got out of the game with everyone in tact, which
looked a bit iffy after Brandon Jacobs was carted off the field in the
first quarter. The Niners' new short yardage back was helped off the field after tweaking his leg, then had to ride the cart into the locker room where luckily, x-rays and MRI's revealed no major damage. This left the bulk of the carries for Kendal Hunter with the first team offense, and once again the speedy back put up some nice numbers. Hunter rushed for 46 yards on just 6 carries and looks like he's in mid-season form already.
The 49ers running game wasn't the issue coming into this game though, it was how these new receivers would fit in with Alex Smith and the 49ers offense, and so far we haven't seen much of anything on that front. Smith did connect with Randy Moss on a few short passes and hit Michael Crabtree for a minimal gain and that was about it for Smith. I said at the start of the preseason that a big key for the 49ers in my mind would be establishing their aerial attack early on, with the first team out on the field, but instead Harbough has been playing it extremely conservative. We haven't really seen Alex Smith take any shots down-field yet, and that has to change in this crucial, upcoming third preseason matchup. This is the one where the first unit will likely stay out there through halftime to start the third quarter. However, if the 49ers are unable to establish their passing attack, we may see them take the fourth preseason game a little more seriously.