Kyle Terada-USA Today Sports
The San Francisco 49ers
picked up their first win of the 2014 preseason with a 21-7 defeat of the San Diego Chargers
. Let's take a look at the bad and the good:
The starting offensive line
- This group really struggled through the first three series today in both pass protection and run protection. The worst offender in pass protection may have been Mike Iupati
. He was beat soundly by his man on a couple occasions and the 49ers were lucky that Colin Keapernick
walked away unscathed.
This group is often referred to as one of the best run blocking lines in the NFL, but anyone who has watched closely the last two years knows that they have been very inconsistent. It wasn't until the second quarter that they were able to give the backs enough space to game more than three yards on a carry. On one play in the first quarter Joe Looney
and Jonathan Martin
were unable to get any movement on Kendall Reyes
with a double team which shut the play down to only a minimal gain. There is just no excuse for two offensive linemen to not be able to push a single defensive lineman out of the hole.
Craig Dahl -
The veteran was forced into the starting lineup due to a concussion suffered last week by starting strong safety Antione Bethea
. Dahl has struggled in coverage throughout his career, and was beat badly by Antonio Gates
down the right seam for a touchdown near the end of the first quarter.
Stevie Johnson -
The veteran didn't enter the game until the backups began to substitute into the game. He proceeded to line up a full yard past the line of scrimmage and wiped out a completion to Bruce Ellington
. There is no excuse for that type of mental error from a veteran player.
Jim Harbaugh's challenges
- Harbaugh lost both of his challenges today and neither of them looked like they had a chance to be overturned. His track record with challenges isn't the best, and it would be nice to see him be a bit more judicial with the use of that red flag.
- The rookie center has had a rough camp but had looked good last week against Denver
and was playing well against San Diego before going down with a knee injury. There has been no word yet on the extent of the injury, but it may cause some scrambling along the offensive line to fill the spot behind Daniel Kilgore
The starting defensive line -
The change in play in the defense from the first two weeks to today was noticeable right away and this group had a lot to do with that improvement. Although they were on the field for 9:34 of the first quarter while the offense was sputtering, they helped the defense hold San Diego to only seven points.
Michael Wilhoite -
Perhaps no player benefitted more from the starters returning to the defensive line and Patrick Willis
than Wilhoite. He finished the day as the second leading tackler with five total, and showed much better overall than he had the previous two weeks.
- A lot had been made early in camp about McDonald struggling to catch the football, but that has seemingly all gone away. Through the first three preseason games McDonald has put together consistent performances. On the 49ers first touchdown drive he made a very nice play going up and getting a pass that was sailing high from Blaine Gabbert
. He then showed his versatility by finishing the drive off with a touchdown in the left flat after lining up as a fullback.
Aaron Lynch and Corey Lemonier
- The two young pass rushers looked very strong, getting pressure on the Chargers backup quarterbacks repeatedly throughout the afternoon. Lynch finished the day with two tipped passes, a sack and a hit on the quarterback. Meanwhile Lemonier also recorded a sack and hit on the quarterback.
Blaine Gabbert -
The veteran backup has struggled throughout preseason, but today he was excellent. Gabbert led the 49ers to their first touchdown of the preseason on a drive in the second quarter during which he was 5-6 for 55 yards and a touchdown. He finished the day with a quarterback rating of 110.4 and put a lid on any questions regarding who would be the backup to Colin Kaepernick this season.
Date: August 26, 2014 at 6:07 AM
Comment: I believe MacDonald is taking to much blame. How many targets did he get in 2013? Yes he had just eight catches, but how could he even develop any chemistry with Kaepernick.
Kaepernick has a big time problems with accuracy. He struggles with moving targets. Its not MacDonald fault he isn't ten foot tall. Everyone has problems with Kaepernicks missiles. Even the defenses can't handle them.
Date: August 25, 2014 at 1:31 PM
Comment: Jack, I enjoy your work. I especially like the fact that you appreciate that football requires understanding all eleven moving parts in order to analyze what's going on.
By: Dallas Niner Fan
Date: August 25, 2014 at 10:01 AM
Comment: Surprised that you did not include Kap under the bad column. I know the offensive could be to blame, but Kap's passes were inaccurate and he really stunk. His red zone woes continue.
Date: August 25, 2014 at 9:00 AM
Comment: Is it just my imagination, or does Kaepernick have more blocked passes than opposing quarterbacks? He's a tall guy and you would think he would have fewer.
Date: August 25, 2014 at 7:57 AM
Comment: re: Dahl
I don't remember specifically the plays that Dahl gave up. But over at Ninernation, it was questioned weather or not it was Dahl's coverage responsibility on those plays. Because it seemed like he was expecting inside help. any idea what the coverage was on the play(s) and Dahl's responsibility?
By: John Flenoid
Date: August 25, 2014 at 7:55 AM
Comment: BLAINE GABBERT - excellent ? I don't agree that Blaine has "put a lid on any question regarding who would be the backup..." One, halfway, decent game does not qualify you as a backup when all the rest of your games have been horrible. Jeff Garcia can give you one halfway decent game, coming off the street with no practice and at 43 years old, on top of that !!!
Gabbert hasn't proven anything....neither has over paid Kap !!!
By: Frank M
Date: August 25, 2014 at 6:46 AM
Comment: Most of the early OL concern was with Looney and Jonathan Martin...but yesterday the biggest problem was Iupati and Kilgore. Most of the pressure on Kap was right up the gut...a QB's worst nightmare. Let's hope Iupati's still shaking off rust...because he was awful. Kilgore keeps getting overmatched by power pass rushers...that's got to stop. Let's hope Marcus Martin's injury isn't serious...because we need his stoutness at C.
By: Big Al
Date: August 25, 2014 at 5:18 AM
Comment: Use spellcheck and take a Bonehead English Grammar class. Keapernick??? Beat instead of beaten??? How about Winston? How did he look? LMJ? He sucked again. Stevie Johnson may be cut.
Date: August 24, 2014 at 11:06 PM
Comment: Couldn't agree with you more on every category mentioned above - that being said, I would still like to see gabbart have a strong pre-season finish and continue what he did today.
The offensive line was a bit worriesome but A.davis, staley, iupati will tighten it up b4 the regular season. Consumit pros those gentlemen are and I believe they'll take today's "inconsitancies" and nip it in the bud quickly. We all know it's just pre-season, but pre-season is where you get back into form.
Colin played really good - he was pressured a lot but that final drive he had was really nice ! Everyone on the offensive side of the ball executed well ! Would love to see those strong drives finish in the TD zone instead if through the uprights.
Good game today ! Rookies and backups stepped it up! That was awesome to see ! It's still a vanilla play calling - I definatly don't expect harbaugh and co to reveal ANYTHING ! Even at the risk of all pre-season losses. Makes me that much more excited for the reg season, can't wait !!!
9er faithful !
Date: August 24, 2014 at 10:16 PM
Comment: I would be very worried if Dahl was forced to play many snaps. However it appeared Jimmi Ward's pick came while playing safety. I would guess Ward could fill in if Reid or Bethea goes down. But hey, it was good to see a late first round Trent Baalke draft pick catch a ball.