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Observations from the first pre-season game
On the evening of the 49ers first pre-season game, here are some observations that manage to stick out like Alfalfa's cowlick.
- The 49ers are still lacking a pass rush. When the first team was on the field there wasn't a push up the middle by B.Y. or by Adams. The 49ers didn't register a sack until the 3rd quarter when all of the second and third stringers were in the game. Adams, however, did show some promise. He executed an excellent spin move and managed to get a QB pressure that should have been a sack. He also showed great hustle in breaking up a screen pass where he first tried to jump in an attempt to swat the ball and still managed to tackle the running back for a minimal gain. The lack of pressure on Trent Green was one of the reasons that he was able to move down the field. Last year's ghosts still remain and there is yet to be a solution.
- Brandon Lloyd made a spectacular catch to post the Niner's first touchdown of the season. The pass and the grab were great, definitely up there for the play of the game. The pass was a show of things to come. Lloyd was often knocked for his lack of speed, bit on this particular play he showed that he is deceptively fast, or at least fat enough to get behind Kansas City's corners. It also showed the philosophical difference between Mooch and Erickson. Ex-head coach Steve Mariucci would call plays for throws down the field about as often as President Bush makes an intelligent comment—not very often. The fact that Rattay, Doman, and Dorsey were all willing to throw down the field is definitely a welcome sight.
- Jamal Robertson is a speedy back that will contribute on special teams. It seems like every pre-season game he manages to break a long run and this game was no exception. He broke open a sweep to the right side for 33 yards exhibiting his ability to hit the hole fast and his speed on the outside. Not only that, but his kick returns always seem to be one block away from a touchdown. He is an explosive backup that earned his stripes as the MVP of NFL Europe as a member of the Rein Fire. He adds nice depth to an already talented running back corps. I find it hard to believe that the 49ers would keep Rashan Salaam with someone like Robertson on the roster.
- The special teams unit has improved. Erickson's emphasis on special teams has shown up like a beacon in the middle of the ocean. Players look excited to be on the coverage units, the coverage doesn't allow players to break away (like Dante Hall, one of the most explosive return men in the game), and they are tackling better. Special teams, and specifically containing punts and kick-offs are improved, and any facet of the game that is improved upon gets the organization one step closer to the elite bracket of teams.
- The Doman vs. Dorsey controversy rages on. Dorsey looked like he ran away with the competition early by completing 2 for 2 with an early TD srtike. He looked sharp as a Ginsu Knife in his delivery and exhibited good decision-making. The second TD pass that Dorsey threw to Battle was on a rope, the type of laser pass that you see elite quarterback's make. After that drive however, it was a whole different ballgame. Doman came on strong later in the game and put together some nice drives. He demonstrated nice mobility and hit many of his intended targets; he completed 11 of 12. On one scramble he reminded me of a seasoned vet; making sure he didn't cross the line of scrimmage and drawing the linebacker toward him enough to deliver a strike to Salaam for the first down. Dorsey looked a bit frazzled after the first couple of series. He was overthrowing receivers and looked like a rookie. Unfortunately, given Doman's experience, Dorsey can't afford to look like a rookie. The competition looked neck and neck to me, and we'll just have to wait out the rest of the preseason to see if one of these prospective 49ers proves that he is above the competition.