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The San Francisco 49ers starting offense has gone three-and-out in each of their opening drives through two preseason games. Against the Houston Texans, the drive to open the game featured two incomplete passes by Blaine Gabbert and a Carlos Hyde run for one yard.
Against the Denver Broncos, the 49ers won the coin toss and opted to start on defense. The Broncos offense took the field and marched 86 yards in 10 plays to score a touchdown on the opening drive. How did the 49ers respond? The result was a run for a loss and one completion in two pass attempts for four yards as the team went three-and-out again.
The 49ers would end up with 400 or more total yards of offense in each of the two games, so things obviously ended up fine in the end. Are these slow starts something that the 49ers are concerned with?
"Well, that's something we've addressed," said offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins on Tuesday. "I would say it was probably more an execution deal. We had a couple breakdowns to start off the game. The good thing is that we were able to address that and we were able to fix it and the guys came out and responded. We'll continue to work on that and we'll continue to stress it, but I thought they responded to that pretty good."
Modkins was asked to assess Gabbert through two games. "Blaine's done a good job," said Modkins. "I was pleased with what he did. I like to see how he started and he responded. He got the team moving. So, I think Blaine's done a good job. He's been accurate with the ball. All our quarterbacks have, and I think Blaine's been good."
Gabbert has gone 10 of 19 for 132 yards and a touchdown during his two preseason starts. That's a passer rating of 92.4. The important statistic is that he has been careful with the ball and not been responsible for a turnover. However, during opening drives, Gabbert has been just 1 of 4 passing for four yards.
The 49ers hope to get their first look at Colin Kaepernick on Friday against the Green Bay Packers, a team that he has had a lot of success against in the past. If he starts, it will be interesting to see if he can get the 49ers offense off to a faster start than Gabbert has.
The 49ers' second drive against the Texans ended with a Hyde fumble, turnover, and return for a touchdown. Fumbling has been an issue for the offense through two preseason games. 49ers running backs have been responsible for four fumbles during preseason, which all resulted in turnovers.
"Obviously, that's got to improve," said Modkins. "You can't win many games in this league turning the ball over three times. But, coach Rathman, I think he's been coaching 19 years or so, his backs are number one as far as turning the ball over, fewest amount. So, he knows what he's doing. We've just got to continue to emphasize it, not only with that position, but all our players."