Sure, there were bad things to take away from the San Francisco 49ers' 23-10 exhibition opening loss in Houston. Third string quarterback Dylan Thompson, with his 30.6 passer rating that included three sacks and a safety, was one. A secondary that allowed three quarterbacks to each finish the night with a passer rating over 100 for the first time in Houston Texans history was another.
However, there was good as well. Let's take a look at a few of the pleasant surprises from Saturday's game.
Here's a guy that was having a pretty mediocre training camp. Saturday night's performance against the Texans changed all of that. Hayne had 63 yards on 5 carries. An impressive statistical total until you realize that all but 10 of those yards came on one play. However, it was a heck of a play. After exploding through the left side of the offensive line, he sprinted down the field for 53 yards, setting up the 49ers' only touchdown of the game. He showed enough elusiveness evading Houston safety and would-be tackler Rahim Moore to prove he can be dangerous.
The former rugby superstar even had a kickoff return that he took seven yards deep in the end zone and brought out 33 yards to the 27. He also had punt returns of 11 and 13 yards. The only knock on Hayne is that he runs too upright, which is more a safety issue than anything else. Hayne's very raw talent is intriguing and he is making a case for himself to be on the 53-man roster come September.
If Hayne continues to impress, the one that should be worried is Kendall Hunter. Carlos Hyde will likely be the starter. Reggie Bush showed enough during camp to earn the night off on Saturday. The team used a draft pick on Mike Davis. Hunter, who is returning from an injury, has yet to show the new coaching staff much of anything. Hayne at least has a preseason game to his credit.
Purcell is a Wyoming product who entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He had six tackles in the first half against the Texans and was instrumental in the 49ers' first quarter goal-line stand. Much of the defensive line looked solid, at least temporarily alleviating any worries about the unit after the retirement of Justin Smith.
The goal-line stop was the 49ers defense's highlight of the night. The unit stuffed the Texans eight times inside the 4-yard line.
On 2nd-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Purcell stopped Texans running back Alfred Blue for a loss of three yards. Purcell consistently looked good against the Texans offensive line and is making a strong case for himself.
During last season's exhibition opener, Gabbert ended the game with a 1.7 passer rating. On Saturday, he finished with a 125.6 passer rating.
Gabbert completed a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Jerome Simpson, which set up a 37-yard field goal. He managed to be accurate and move the offense steadily throughout the night. The coaching staff has been working with him to increase his accuracy by shortening his passes.
Gabbert could be a serviceable backup and many of his critics may be rethinking things -- at least for one game.
Tartt had five tackles on Saturday night and proved that he can be a force when playing around the line of scrimmage. He could be good insurance should there be any injuries among the safeties.
Tempo! Tempo! Tempo!
The 49ers had no delay-of-game penalties. Good news for those that got frustrated with the pattern from the 2014 season. It looks like all of the offseason work that the coaching staff has enforced is paying off. The 49ers ended the night with eight penalties overall.
Which players surprised you in the 49ers exhibition opener? Leave a comment below.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
Comment: Lol.....stopped reading at "the one that should be worried is Kendal Hunter"
Dude, appreciate the effort, but I'd leave your insight (or lack thereof) out of your articles and instead, do some research and watch Hunter in actual NFL games.
If you do, you will quickly realize that Hunter isn't going anywhere.
Date: August 17, 2015 at 4:00 PM
Comment: The coaching staff....I know it was the pre season but our offense looks way more diverse than previous years.
Date: August 17, 2015 at 2:21 PM
Comment: Hayne impressed, he's a superstar in rugby and a good bet to be here opening day. Couldn't take my eyes off Purcell. What I liked most was the way Tomsula treated the game for what it was, an exhibition contest.
By: Johnny O
Date: August 17, 2015 at 10:57 AM
Comment: Eli Howard did a nice job for his first action as a pro. Held the edge effectively and had some decent pressures. Plenty of upside.
Date: August 17, 2015 at 6:57 AM
Comment: Saw a lot of good T.E.'s out there, perhaps too many. They should trade Celek or Carrier for a CB, because the 49ers CB situation is pathetic. CB maybe the weakest position on the team.
Date: August 17, 2015 at 12:11 AM
Comment: Bottom line is that the Texans played like it was a regular season game? Not only did they go for 2 after the first score >They also went for it on 4th n goal several times on the 1 which clearly indicates they were playing light out?
Date: August 16, 2015 at 10:50 PM
Comment: I have 2 problems on both sides of the football JT&Co must fix ASAP. On Kap's last play, he scramble and hold the ball for too long. Although he may try to connect with a receiver the truth is he kept looking at Patton who was his nearest receiver hopefully waiting to be uncovered but since Patton didn't think the same then it end as going out of bonds. My point here is Kaepernick has to take quickier decisions because he might be sacked, picked or even worse. Second, is the tackling, Texans first touchdown happened by a miss tackle of Bethea, either to preventing a double collision with Shorts and Johnson or being afraid from being flagged for unnecesary roughness. Sure it's preseason and most of players are rusty but fundamentals must be there anytime.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 9:20 PM
Comment: 1st series very disappointing. Kap, yet again, didn't throw the ball away and instead took a loss at the sideline. Shouldn't that be automatic by now? Tackling poor as well. Slob a pleasant surprise and Tarrt (sp?)as well.
Date: August 16, 2015 at 8:54 PM
Comment: I WAS HOPING TANK CARRADINE WOULD SHINE IN THE GAME. HOPEFULLY HE'LL PICK IT UP SOON AND MAKE A BIG IMPACT FOR THE D-LINE.
By: Darrell Brantingham
Date: August 16, 2015 at 8:47 PM
Comment: L. J. McCray delivered as hard a hit as I have seen when he made a tackle playing safety. He also made some great tackles on special teams. This guy is amazing!
Date: August 16, 2015 at 8:46 PM
Comment: I wouldn't say "surprised" as much as I would "impressed." LJ McCray, S Skov, M Davis, G Celek, K Acker, M Martin, L Okoye, and J Tartt are a few of the other names who I thought stood out last night. I am really pleased with Blaine Gabbert's progress this year. By and large, he has impressed in camp as well. He is showing composure in the pocket and accuracy with his passes. Spending a full season as the understudy seems to have had a remarkable effect on Blaine. Coming out of Jax, Blaine was "playing scared", with happy feet and rushed throws. Gabbert is actually a very athletic QB as well and I think this is an outstanding fit for the team!
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