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PFF’s key takeaways from 49ers loss to Texans

Aug 15, 2016 at 12:10 PM


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Advanced statistics site Pro Football Focus did a recap of the preseason matchup between the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

After a half of play, clinging to a 13-7 lead, San Francisco put up 302 yards of total offense with 161 coming on the ground and 141 through the air. The Texans would manage just 89 total yards in the first half with 65 rushing and 24 passing. However, the second half would see Houston outscoring San Francisco 17-0 to go on and secure the 24-13 victory.

Let's take a look at some key takeaways from Sunday that author Matt Claassen of Pro Football Focus pointed out.

Blaine Gabbert did little to secure starting job


With a strong performance, Blaine Gabbert could have secured himself as the undisputed leader in the quarterback competition. After all, Colin Kaepernick didn't even suit up due to shoulder soreness. While Gabbert did have a nice touchdown throw to TE Vance McDonald, his performance against the Texans was anything but strong.

"There were ups and downs in those first two drives," said Gabbert following the loss. "There's things that we can correct. Things that we inflicted on ourselves, but we got the touchdown. We strung a bunch of quality plays together. And like I said, the o-line gave me plenty of time out there."

"Gabbert had a couple of nice throws, including one that ended up as a touchdown due to some nice after the catch work by McDonald, but ultimately did little to help secure the starting job," said Claassen. "He missed on a handful of easy throws, once again bringing his accuracy into question."

Now the quarterback competition continues on to Denver.

Free agent acquisition Thad Lewis and rookie Jeff Driskel backed up Gabbert on Sunday. While both showed some athleticism using their legs, neither displayed an impressive ability to pass the ball.

"Lewis completed just three of his nine passes targeted 10+ yards downfield, while Driskel finished 4-for-12 overall," said Claassen. "Neither player completed a pass while under pressure on eight combined attempts."

Mike Davis impresses


With the 49ers selecting RB Kelvin Taylor in the draft, many assumed that last year's fifth-round selection, Mike Davis, might be a roster casualty. No one told Davis. On Sunday, he impressed enough to distance himself from the roster bubble – at least for a week. Davis led the team in rushing with 72 yards on five carries.

"Mike Davis was the most impressive of the group (on offense), averaging 12 yards after contact on his five runs, and forced four missed tackles," said Claassen.

While Davis wowed, DuJuan Harris fumbled the football at the two-yard line on first-and-goal. However, Claassen notes that he forced three missed tackles on seven carries in the game.

"Shaun Draughn also forced two missed tackles on as many runs," points out Claassen.

Joshua Garnett is perfect


Joshua Garnett was touted as the best run blocking guard in the draft. It was his pass blocking ability that analysts questioned.

"His pass protection issues should not be taken lightly and will have to be vetted with offensive line coaches to make sure they are correctable issues," said NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein.

Garnett impressed in pass protection against the Texans. "Second-round draft pick Josh Garnett was perfect on his 21 snaps in pass protection," said Claassen. That's certainly good news for 49ers fans who saw their quarterbacks get sacked 53 times in 2015.

Armstrong and Bellore shine


Ray-Ray Armstrong is one of three linebackers fighting for one open starting spot at inside linebacker. Armstrong did all he could in his limited audition on Sunday.

"ILB Ray-Ray Armstrong played just 15 snaps, but he made three run-stops on five run plays, and finished as the highest-graded defender for the 49ers," said Claassen. "Fellow ILB Nick Bellore also had a productive night, earning above-average grades in run defense and as a pass-rusher due to his three total pressures and three defensive stops."

You can read the entire Pro Football Focus recap here.
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