Fresh off a victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers went to Houston to face off against Texas’ other team. A penalty-ridden affair between both sides ended in a 16-13 Texans victory after quarterback Joe Webb hit Vyncint Smith for a 41-yard touchdown pass. The 49ers starting offense played the first two drives with the first team defense staying on into the third quarter.
Jimmy Garoppolo is Back, Baby
After limited playing time against Dallas, Garoppolo played in a more extended capacity for the first time this season. He didn’t disappoint.
On the 49ers first drive, Garoppolo continued to show his insane chemistry with wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. The two connected twice for 48 yards, including a 40-yard bomb down the sideline on third and 7. The drive also included Garoppolo showing off his ability to improvise and manipulate his mechanics to his benefit. His fourth down completion to fullback Kyle Juszczyk showed his patience in the pocket and ability to quickly reset his throwing platform. Garoppolo capped the drive by throwing a two-yard touchdown pass to Trent Taylor. Again, he effortlessly shifted his platform, while under pressure, and slung a sidearm strike to the back of the endzone.
The second drive was more of the same from Garoppolo. He converted every third down (going 6-6) and was accurate. The drive ended on an interception off the hands of Dante Pettis. There will be arguments over whether the ball should have been caught, but the pass was high nonetheless.
Penalties, Penalties, and Even More Penalties
Saturday night’s “action” included 23 accepted penalties, 15 of which were committed by the 49ers. In the regular season, this simply won’t fly.
Sloppy play from both sides of the ball is oftentimes expected in the preseason, but this was too much. A handful of bonehead plays here and there are acceptable, but to have so many preventable penalties, looking at you Weston Richburg and Ahkello Witherspoon, is not a recipe for success.
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The Running Game is Still Struggling
While it’s easy to chalk this up to it being preseason and the top two backs being hurt, the fact still remains that the run game has been bad. For a second straight week, the 49ers have been held to under 100 yards on the ground and less than four yards per carry. The longest run a non-quarterback had against the Texans was six yards. When Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida return, and the first team offense is out longer, one would assume the rushing numbers would get better. However, the early numbers are not promising.
D.J. Jones was a Stud
Last week, rookie defensive lineman Jullian Taylor stole the show. Tonight, it was second-year defensive tackle D.J. Jones. Prior to this season, Jones has been known as the big-body type tackle that stuffs holes and is tough to move off the line. However, Jones slimmed down a bit this offseason and has looked like the top rotational tackle, at the very least. Jones racked up three tackles and a forced fumble against Houston, showing off a combination of power and athleticism that has 49ers fans giddy.
The Pass Rush is Still an Issue
Last season, arguably the 49ers’ biggest problem was their lack of generating consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Last week was fairly promising, with the defense accumulating two sacks and eight quarterback hits, but tonight it was nonexistent. Much like the running game, the 49ers’ disappointing stat line (zero sacks and three QB hits) is less alarming because of the amount of talent that did not play. However, it’s still agitating to watch opposing team’s quarterbacks get all the time in the world to throw. Jeremiah Attaochu had two of the three QB hits, Dekoda Watson had the third, but the Texans’ quarterbacks were unscathed for the vast majority of the game.