49ers 23, Cowboys 6: Grades

SANTA CLARA – Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 23-6 preseason win over the Dallas Cowboys.

QUARTERBACKS: C. Colin Kaepernick completed just 2-of-5 pass attempts for 13 yards – a measly 2.6 yards per throw – although he made a decent pass to Torrey Smith in the end zone that got batted down by cornerback Corey White. Blaine Gabbert completed every pass he threw, but averaged only 3.5 yards per attempt, and threw a seven-yard check-down pass to running back Mike Davis instead of throwing a 15-yard pass over the middle to wide receiver DeAndrew White, who was wide open. Gabbert never saw him.

RUNNING BACKS: A. Carlos Hyde had four excellent runs: Gains of five and six on two stretch-zone runs to the right, and gains of nine and 17 on two stretch-zone runs to the left. His best run obviously was the 17-yarder, during which he showed superb instincts cutting back to the right in the backfield. He already seems like one of the best stretch-zone runners in the NFL. Backups Mike Davis and Jarryd Hayne also seem effective running zone plays. Davis had a 15-yard gain, and Hayne had a 34-yard gain.

WIDE RECEIVERS: D. The longest catch of the day was a nine-yard gain by Jerome Simpson, who will serve a suspension the first six games of the season. The only other receiver who caught a pass was Quinton Patton, who caught three passes for two yards. Seriously. Once he caught a pass, ran backwards and got tackled for a 12-yard loss. Seriously.

TIGHT ENDS: D. Vance McDonald made one catch for seven yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury. If McDonald misses time, the Niners’ No. 2 tight end probably will be Garrett Celek, who made zero catches Sunday evening.

OFFENSIVE LINE: C. The run-blocking seemed solid, both on the left and the right of the offensive line. But the pass-protection seemed subpar. Gabbert was sacked twice, and Kaepernick was sacked once. On Kaepernick’s sack, right tackle Erik Pears and right guard Marcus Martin got beat right away. Kaepernick tried to buy time in the pocket, but ran into Randy Gregory, who beat left tackle Joe Staley.

DEFENSIVE LINE: B+. Shut down Cowboys’ starting running back Darren McFadden, holding him to four yards on three carries. The starting defensive line played well against the pass, too. Tackle Quinton Dial and end Eli Harold sacked backup quarterback Brandon Weeden for a nine-yard loss, knocking him out of the game in the process. Harold finished the game with two hits on the quarterback. Mike Purcell, the star last week against the Texans, intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown.

LINEBACKERS: B+. Ahmad Brooks generated zero pass rush. He may lose his job as a starter in the sub-packages to Harold before the season begins. NaVorro Bowman played only three plays, but was outstanding on those three. He tackled McFadden after a one-yard gain on the first play, blitzed the A-gap and forced McFadden to run into outside linebacker Aaron Lynch for a one-yard loss on the second play, and tackled running back Lance Dunbar for a one-yard loss on the third play. Can Bowman play that well for an entire game?

DEFENSIVE BACKS: A-. Veteran safety Craig Dahl intercepted a pass over the middle of the field, undrafted rookie safety Jermaine Whitehead intercepted a pass in the end zone during a two-point conversion attempt, and second-year corner Dontae Johnson intercepted a pass near the sideline during the fourth quarter. Those were the highlights. The lowlight came when Keith Reaser gave up a 21-yard catch to the great A.J. Jenkins. Kenneth Acker seems like a better option than Reaser to start at cornerback opposite Tramaine Brock.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Jarryd Hayne topped last week’s performance by returning three punts for 84 yards. He seems like a lock to make the final roster as the starting punt-returner and kick-returner. And wide receiver Quinton Patton redeemed his negative-12-yard catch by blocking a punt and recovering it in the end zone for a touchdown.

      1. Bill Walsh wrote a book resting his starters during the preseason to evaluate the rookies. Starters would start the second half of the third game and play big minutes in the 4th preseason game, tuning up for the reg. season.

      1. I think you mean ‘track’ not tread. Maybe a Freudian slip on you part – the 49ers showed a lot of good intentions but not so much good execution.

          1. Look what up? Tanks and armored personnel carriers run on tracks. I rode on one with the 2/22 infantry (mechanized) in 1968. We were featured in Oliver Stone’s recreation of the Battle of Fire Base Burt in the movie Platoon. (he served with the 3/22 infantry). Don’t need to look nothing up.

    1. Carradine got hurt in the first quarter and was out the rest of the game; I remember one pass play where he had good pressure. Lemonier seemed adequate but that’s about it. Harold did some nice things (particularly a stunt with Dial that ended up with both of them sacking the QB).

    2. Lemonier had one QB hurry and like the other guys said Tank had a good rush where he got to Wheedon’s feet and forced a hurried throw.

    3. From ninernation.com “Injuries limited Tank Carradine to two snaps”

      If he had a pressure on two plays good, getting hurt on two plays bad.

  1. Like we discussed on twitter this gabbert improvement talk is all fools gold ! Maybe it’s happy feet bc he doesn’t trust the line but he definitely has his mind to check down short before the snap! He panicked when his check downs where covered

  2. Want to add that a couple plays after his catch, Patton caught a short pass near the sideline and made no effort whatsoever to get out of bounds, there were something like 50 seconds left in the half, and the Niners were forced to call a timeout…

  3. So my question is how much of the performance of the QB’s, TE’s and WR’s was due to game plan vs. actually playing poorly? There weren’t many plays dialed up for WR’s or TE’s. Its a harsh grade when your number isn’t called for the play. Kap had one long play called but the Cowboys had a jail break blitz that our line failed to pick up and their was not outlet pass for him to throw to. How many actual targets did the TE’s and WR’s get? Seems like you left out some plays by the 3rd and 4th groupings. It also seems like they are keeping their passing game off film.

    1. I must say I find it strange that based on one play Keith Reaser is now not a good option to start. How many passing yards did the team give up during the game? Hardly any.

      I’ve not watched the game so no idea if Reaser also struggled on other plays. But the way this reads makes it sound like that play alone means Reaser is no good! :-P

  4. Personally, I thought BG did an OK job. Panicked? If you were confronted by 300 lb linemen who want to inflict serious pain, you would not only panic, you would pee in your pants.
    Come down off your high horse and enjoy the victory.

  5. Grant, in the future I suggest adding a grade for the turf. Today, for example, you could have written —

    TURF: A. For the first time in a long time, the turf held up well and was not an issue at all. Big surprise, since it was laid just two (?) days ago. Generally, the footing was good and there were few divots. This grass from Arizona seemed to do the trick. (I mean the non-smoking grass from Arizona.)

    1. If the 49ers want to have rock concerts, etc. every week then they should have done like the Cardinals did: have a retractable field that can be rolled out when the team is not playing. Unfortunately real estate is too expensive in Silicon Valley for that to be feasible.

      1. And where do you suggest they put that rolling 140 yards? You do realize that on the North side of the stadium is Tasman Road, so its not going there…on the South End of the stadium is a Powerplant and beyond that, homes, so its not going there, its not like they can roll it out to the East side since thats the team facility and the soccer complex, and to the west side is parking and a large creek. Santa Clara is a densely populated area, this isn’t Glendale, the Cardinals stadium was built basically on desert with more desert surrounding it, they had lots of very cheap land so having a 140 yard by 50 yard spot of land was nothing for them, in the bay area thats prime real estate.

        And the field gets more than enough sun, it gets hit by sun from sunrise to probably 5pm, its not for a lack of sunlight.

        Have you been to the new stadium?

        1. I was a season ticket holder from 1970 to 1994. Saw me first game at Kezar in 1955. I wouldn’t go to a Santa Clara 49ers game if I got the tickets for free. I was not suggesting that they would get the land to put roll out the grass, in fact I made that point in my post. My point was that the fans better get over it. Levi Stadium was built where it as, as it is, to make money for the Yorks not to make the 49ers one of the best in the NFL.

          1. Should have never torn down the Stick, and put the venues there instead.
            Let Levis be a temple for the football faithful.

  6. “Colin Kaepernick completed just 2-of-5 pass attempts for 13 yards – a measly 2.6 yards per throw… Blaine Gabbert completed every pass he threw, but averaged only 3.5 yards per attempt.”

    If you break the performances down by action plays: Kaepernick had 7 action plays go for a total of 9 yards (1.3 yards per action play); Gabbert had 10 action plays go for a total of 11 yards (1.1 yards per action play), but if you adjust for the yards Quinton Patton lost in a failed attempt to make a play following a reception beyond the line of scrimmage, Gabbert’s effectiveness per play more than doubles to 2.4. Gabbert lost significantly less yardage on sacks, and Gabbert had to contend with an offensive supporting cast that gave up three 10-yard Offensive Holding penalties on five drives (Kaepernick’s offense gave up a single instance of 5 yards on a False Start penalty).

    I’m not happy with either quarterback, but if you’re going to be unhappy with a quarterback, be unhappy with the quarterback that is more efficient and easier on the salary cap.


    1. By your logic Thompson should be starting with his 6.2yds per play. There’s no universe where Gabbert should start over Kap. Lets hope you don’t get your wish.

    2. What an idiotic comment. Kaep had one pass where he had to throw it out of bounds and one incompletion was a complete drop by Smith on a perfect back shoulder pass. The negative yards were due to terrible passblocking letting 3 guys through untouched twice.

    3. This guy is a spill over troll from niners nation (Phatal.exe). Same confirmation bias “analysis” of CK7 and same inflammatory hashtags.

  7. The 53:

    Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert
    Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush, Kendall Hunter, Mike Davis, Jarryd Hayne
    Bruce Miller
    Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton, DeAndrew White
    Vernon Davis, VMac, Blake Bell, Busta Anderson
    Joe Staley, Erik Pears, Trent Brown
    Alex Boone, M&M, Brandon Thomas
    Joe Looney/Dillon Farrell

    Darnell Dockett, Arik Armstead, Tank Carradine
    Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Quinton Dial, Mike Purcell
    Ahmad Brooks, Aaron Lynch, Eli Harold, Corey Lemonier
    NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, Philip Wheeler, Nick Moody
    Tramaine Brock, Shareece Wright, Kenneth Acker, Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser
    Antoine Bethea, Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, L.J. McCray
    Phil Dawson, Bradley Pinion, Kyle Nelson

    Reserve/PUP: Daniel Kilgore
    Reserve/NFI: DeAndre Smelter

    Trade: TJE, Celek

    Kilgore comes back and Looney is released.

        1. Not wanting to pile on Patton, but he has to show he can play WR . He won’t make it on an isolated ST play. Many players make special teams plays like that but don’t make the team. Plays like Purcells interception are another example. They are as much a result of opportunity as they are talent. Purcell however excelled in other aspects of his position so that ST play is a bonus. Patton made a good move to get around the rb blocker but it was more a bad play by the blocker than an excellent move by Patton. He was relatively unblocked. The blocker had his feet firmly planted and made no move what so ever to get in Pattons way. If Patton wants to make the team on special teams play he will be competing with players like McCray who have made a lot of good plays as opposed to relatively one opportunistic on. He was helped a lot by Simpsons suspension. With out that he might be gone for sure.

    1. Razor,

      That looks pretty good and I think we are literally looking at 3-4 question marks at this point max.

      I think Farrell and Tiller are fighting for the final Oline spot and who will likely be cut once Kilgore comes back. Wheeler I don’t think makes it simply because he’s been injured. Skov and Bishop are likely fighting for the final ILB spot.

      Dline will be the toughest to cut down. So many guys are playing well and I think the team is wishing they hadn’t guaranteed 2 mill of Dockett’s contract right now. I thought they would keep 6 Dlinemen before TC, but they are probably going to have to keep 7 with how well these guys have played. Jerod- Eddie and Purcell are likely fighting for one spot.

      Tough to pick the final roster spots this year for sure.

  8. I disagree completely with your assessment of Kaepernick and think it just goes to show your complete bias against him. He only made one bad play, taking the sack. He made a great read and throw to Smith in the end zone. There was just a good play made on it. You can’t fault him for that.

    1. You guys know that I am one of Grants biggest critics. But in this case I think I will come to his defense and give him the benefit of the doubt. I read his C grade as being justified based purely on the passing games results. Other than his comments about Gabberts checkdowns and the missed receiver, there really were not that many negative statements about the QB’s. It is out of line to give them a C grade based purely on the results. In fact based on those results he would have had to consider those mitigating circumstances mentioned by a lot of posters in respect to the situational conditions the QB’s faced to even give them a C.

      1. In my fifth sentence it should have read — It is “not out of line” to give them a C grade based purely on the results. Not “it is out of line”.

  9. Hayne needs a nickname. “Thunder from Down Under” or maybe “The Flossy Aussie”. cmon lets get creative…

  10. 3 minor criticisms.
    Too many penalties. Those are self inflicted wounds. Niners need to play cleaner if they want success.
    Defenders are lining up too close. I hope they do not get called for encroachment, and have that determine the outcome of the game. I saw one play where the player’s foot looked over the line.
    Defenders need to play more selflessly. When both go up for the ball, one must subordinate to the other and let him make the catch. Maybe they need better communication.

  11. The usual misinterpretations by Grant that we’ve come to love and expect.

    Actually a very encouraging game. I thought Kap looked really good. The touch on his short passes was excellent – that’s new this season. A perfect pass into the end zone, defended brilliantly (although the defender got there a little early, in my opinion). Grading a quarterback’s performance on the basis of yards per catch, with a very small sample size, is really unintelligent.

    I love the play calling compared to previous years. Somewhat of a return to the WCO. The trouble getting plays off is a thing of the past, looks like. Huge improvement compared to Roman’s and Harbaugh’s offense, my opinion.

    Hyde looked outstanding. In Hayne we have the return man we’ve lusted for forever.

    The defense was very good. Exciting to see Bowman back and playing great. McCray and Tartt were impressive. In fact, the entire defense looked good.

    Holy moley. We may have a competitive team after all.

    1. Sorry to disagree. Grants grades average out to be a B-, which is reasonable considering the passing game was poor and the offence could not score a TD.
      It was not a perfect pass to Torrey. It was a tad late, or it would have been a TD.
      I do agree that the play calling and game management is 100% improved over last year.
      I also agree with your last statement.

    2. The team has usually been competitive in the first half. Its failure to make adjustments at half time has been a big problem.
      While it is always fun to beat Dallas, the check down passes look like Alex Smith is back. The team appears content to clone A Smith through Gabbert.
      I did not see anything last night that would make me think this team is winning more than 6 games unless the OL has vast improvements, the QB play improves, and the play calling extends a pass play beyond 3-6 yards.

      1. Niners just beat a hated rival. Why the angst over the backup QB? It was a preseason game so the play calling is vanilla. I do not know what you base your 6 game win season on, but after a win, the Niners are looking good to me.
        I see a 10-6 season.

        1. I think the team goes 5-11. Looking at the SOS, the travel, and the time between games in association with all of that anything more than 5 wins is a big feat.

          I was accurate last season with my 8-8 prediction. I will still watch every game, will still sport all the niner gear, and enjoy the season regardless of their standings.

          1. Matt- You got lucky with your 8-8 prediction last season. There were just too many unforeseen circumstances involved for it to have been an assessment based on proper preseason evaluations. That 8-8 was a negative Nelly shot in the dark so don’t try to get credit for an educated preseason assessment. Did you foresee all the injuries, the discord in the locker room, and the lack of effort and attitude by a number of key veteran players? If you did then you might be ready to take Nostradamus’s place.

        2. sebnynah check the Dallas beat writer’s story on the game above. There is no such thing as a “hated rival” in a preseason game. Especially one that sits most of it’s front line players.

          1. I beg to differ. Anytime the cowgirls lose, it is a red letter day to me. Even meaningless preseason games when both sides did not play their starters long.
            My intense dislike of the Cowgirls spans decades, unlike the Johnny come lately Seasquawks.

            1. Razor there are times when I don’t understand some of your shorter posts. This occasion is one of those times.

              If you and seb want to invest your emotions in an exhibition, who am I to deny you that empty pleasure. I’ve spent many a glorious day watching Dallas blow up during the season and especially during the post season.

              1. I’m interested in the individuals trying to make the team in preseason. Thats enough for me going into season seventy. ;-)

              2. I am a fan, and hated when the Cowboys ripped out the hearts of early Niner fans because the Niners could not overcome the Cowboys back then.
                Then the glory years, but after that the Haley years with the Cowboys put them on top again.Now THAT is a rivalry.
                It is just a visceral reaction, I guess.

              3. Seb, the early fans were interested in Cleveland and then next in the NFL it was the Rams and Detroit Lions.

  12. I thought the objective for the offensive game plan was to run the ball as much as possible. They didn’t really look like they are trying to improve the passing game. They must feel that they have cards they need to hide.

    Tim Green said that on Kaepernick’s sack, everyone was going deep, and that when Kaepernick backed out of the pocket, all the receivers had their backs to him. With the CBS camera work there was no way to tell if that was the case from my couch.

      1. They will start taking the sod out today to get ready for the next concert. At least that’s what they said during the broadcast.

    1. htwaits- I also found it interesting that even after Greens description of the circumstances of Kaeps sack one of the commentators ( don’t know if it was green ) criticized Kaep for back peddling and not running out of the none existent pocket to buy more time. ???? Dam*ed if you do and dam*ed if you don’t. In retrospect he probably should have run, but I don’t know if you can foresee a total progressive breakdown of protection to that degree. He was probable just over compensating staying in the pocket.

      1. As seb just wrote, I though he was triangulated. The only out I could see would have meant he had to give up on the play and throw deep out of bounds. That would have been better even if they called intentional grounding because he had no chance to escape and the loss would have been for fewer yards. So far it hasn’t been in Colin’s nature to give up on a play that quick, and there are down sides to that too.

  13. I missed some of the game due to technical difficulties, but a few thoughts.

    – Temper temper. 3 out of 5 Cowboys starting OL didn’t play a snap, as well as scores of other offensive and defensive starters.

    Just like combine stats, pro-days, OTA reports and training camp reports… throttle back conclusions 80% when it comes to exhibition games. Coach Tomsula’s orders. (Say, anyone know what preseason stud Glen Coffee is up to these days?)

    – In Haynes two biggest runs from scrimmage the last two games, he had gaping holes to run through. (Niners Nation podcast said last weeks big run could have been done by a good high school back)
    But I’m not giving up on him. The guy is a powerhouse and quick. I think he can eventually becoming a running back. In fact, the zone blocking scheme suits him.

    – Hayne’s returns are fantastic. He makes the squad on the ability to make defenders miss, good hands and power. The combination of agility and size are rare. I think he sticks to the 53. I think York should buy him is own espresso machine. I can’t wait to see him again Saturday.

    – Great to hear VMac’s playing in-line while VD is moving around. This will give defenses fits, while playing to VMac’s strength.

    – Hyde is faster then last season. Think about it.

    – We finally found our shutdown corner… Mike Purcell.

    – Tartt and McCray can cover ground and hit.

      1. After Jordy Nelson, I hope they shelve Bo until the real games begin.
        He is way too important to lose in a meaningless game.

    1. While the holes were initially there I think it is a bit over the top to suggest that a high school player could have made those runs. When he gets space he makes the most of it. He straight armed a couple of players in both runs to get extra yardage. Granted you need to have big holes but there are players who would not take advantage of the holes once they are available. Other backs might have only gotten 10 yards rather than thirty+. As has been stated ( him included ) he needs to learn to run with his pads lower in traffic, but that should come. The thing is he is showing enough positives to compensate for that for now. He is very good at running in open spaces.

  14. Finally got to watch the game. Here are my thoughts (apologies in advance for the long post):

    – As Brodie said above, first and foremost we have to keep in mind who didn’t play for the Cowboys. Lets not get too excited.
    – In saying that, the defense looked very good. The DL got good push against run and pass, and the LBs and DBs were good in coverage and in coming up to stop the run, for the most part.
    – However, the OLBs still weren’t generating a lot of pressure. The pressure is mostly coming from up the middle.
    – Harold was the pick of the OLBs today. But I’d like to see him get some reps as a pass rusher against starters. Brooks was anonymous, but in limited reps you can’t really draw much. Same with Lynch, though he did have a tackle on the second play of the game. Lemonier was much the same as last week – far from terrible without ever really looking likely. The third stringers Rush and Lemon got a sack each, but against scrubs. Neither of them looked outstanding enough to think they could be much of a factor against top competition.
    – On the DL, I didn’t think any of the guys really stood out per se, but all looked solid. Did a very good job helping shut down the running game, and as mentioned previously, there was pretty good push generated to keep the QB from settling throughout the game.
    – Skov was much improved for mine this week, but he seems to be more of a risk taker than I like. He attacks the hole well, but he looks like he’s guessing rather than reading much of the time. When it works out for him it looks great. When it doesn’t, he leaves holes for RBs to get through.
    – Of the other ILBs, Moody was quietly efficient. Didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy either way, but looked pretty good. Bishop flashed some athleticism, but was playing against third stringers which likely made him look better than he was.
    – Of course the real story of the ILBs was those three plays of Bowman. Great to see him back out there. On that last play he didn’t look like he was moving as well as he used to, but what he may have lost in speed he may have made up for in smarts. High impact.
    – I thought the CBs were excellent, but could just be they weren’t really tested. For mine Acker was the pick of the bunch. Very physical, kept tight coverage for the most part, and was strong in the running game too.
    – When I read Grant’s criticism of Reaser for allowing the catch to Jenkins, I assumed he must have been soundly beaten 1-on-1. But no, it was a simple zone shell in which Reaser didn’t get enough depth and allowed the QB to find the soft spot between him and I believe it was Dahl. Dahl could have done a better job coming up quicker on that play. Aside from that, Reaser looked fine.
    – Didn’t even notice Brock, so I’m guessing he did well. Certainly didn’t do anything glaringly wrong to get noticed. Wright was pretty anonymous too.
    – Johnson looked too good for the third stringers he mostly faced. As he should. Can’t really read much into how he played because of who it was against.
    – I liked what I saw from Tartt today. He can be beat in coverage 1-on-1, but he didn’t look to ever be beaten badly, and he’s a true enforcer. Good against the run, and looked good playing shorter zones too. Could easily see a pretty significant role for him as the dime back this year. And McCray has shown enough as a safety to be comfortable keeping him as the 4th/ 5th safety and STs demon. He is an almost lock to make the team. Dahl played well, but if it comes down to a competition between him and McCray for a spot, McCray will win.
    – On offense, the passing game was basically non-existent, so not much point talking about it. Didn’t learn much of anything about it today.
    – But the team can run. Some very good blocking up front to create holes for the RBs, and Hyde and Davis looked good.
    – Hayne had a good run through a big hole, and had his moments as the RB, but he won’t make a football team on his RB skills just yet. But as a returner, he’s dynamite. Barring injury he’ll definitely be playing on Sunday’s this year, and at this point I would be shocked if it isn’t with the 49ers.
    – The first team OL still has some problems in pass pro, but run blocking is pretty good. Both sides looked pretty good blocking for runs today.
    – But, Thomas should be part of the first string OL. He looked very good again today I thought, In both pass pro and run blocking, with the exception of two plays (one where he got tripped up while pulling, and another where he whiffed on a block by lunging too far which ended up getting Davis tackled for only a small gain).
    – Finally, that really stupid play where he lost 12 yards aside, Patton looked a lot better today. He managed to get himself open a few times, was physical in the run game as a blocker, and had a couple of good moments on STs. He needs to build on that (and not make another bonehead move like the one today).

    1. Nice analysis as usual, Scooter. I only watched parts of the game between running errands.
      What did you see on passes to the RBs coming out of the backfield? Is it now a staple of the offense in a traditional WCO sense?

      1. Getting the RBs out into pass patterns definitely appears to be part of the offense now, and the QBs are using them. As to whether Kaep carries that over into the regular season remains to be seen. Kaep hasn’t played much in preseason, and in the past he has had a bit of a blind spot when it comes to throwing to the RBs.

    2. Scooter, my impression was that the offensive objective was to work on running the ball. Do you think that could be an injury avoidance plan? With Dallas sitting their top three defensive tackles and other top defenders it’s hard to tell just how good the run blocking will be against the Vikings or Steelers.

      1. It was odd that the team barely threw the ball downfield. Not sure if that was by design or not. But as you say, hard to know how much to take from this game. Lots of players were rested by the Cowboys.

        1. I think a better indication of the passing game will come this week against the Broncos. The biggest thing to take away in preseason games from an offensive perspective is the play calling balance, the rhythm an offensive establishes, and the overall organization from play clock to substitutions, etc.
          From a defensive perspective its the speed at which the ball is being pursued, tackling, and one on one battles at the line of scrimmage. In both instances, I think the 49ers are well on their way to being a good team this year.

          1. That was against a Dallas squad that looked like they were playing on “heavy” legs. Both teams should take next week’s game a bit more seriously.

        2. Downfield throws take time, and with the right side of the line struggling to protect, maybe that was the thought process….

  15. someone told me that “Crab” is gone (to the Raiders).
    Okay, so who will sit in his old chair when
    Kaep and Boldin need a “third wheel” to bolster their
    confidence/cockiness during those “chill-o-thon”
    (cool as we wanna be) group press conferences?

    Crab + Gore + Coach Harbaw + other mighty men =
    no Super Bowl ring #6. Dang. It is gonna be a while,huh?

  16. It was nice to see Armstead drawing the consistent doubleteams. He must be showing something on the scouting reports.

  17. I hope that we see more of those back shoulder throws as they seem to be effective these days in the NFL and fit with Kaep’s strong arm.

  18. My takes.

    1. I liked the Pinion pick, but as of yet I have not seen the value.
    2. Looks like Armstead is getting double teamed, that’s a good thing.
    3. Patton made two rookie mistakes.
    4. The O-line needs work.
    5. Still too many penalties.
    6. Purcell just might make the 53.
    7. Hayne will make the 53.
    8. Winning at home for me was the biggest thing I take from this game. Needed to establish home field dominance that was not established last year.
    9. Its pre season never get too high or too low that’s reserved for the real season.

  19. From my limited viewing of the pre-season games, it seems that the team is making good progress on all aspects of the game. My concern (probably that for many other fans) is with the right side of the O line and the effectiveness of the pass rush. Seems that coaches will have to game plan around it with time running out for significant improvements for Martin and Pears. Personnel is probably set until Kilgore returns.

  20. Comments on the game. I don’t like to grade preseason nor do I praise or disparage for wins and losses during this time. I mean cheering for a win in the preseason is like applauding for the singer who merely cleared their voice. With that said here’s what I take away from the second scrimmage of the season:

    QB: I’m trying to stick to my promise to not be a negative nelly in regards to Kaepernick so I’ll only say this; after two practice games Gabbert looks like the best QB on the team and that thought makes baby Jesus cry. I hope that it’s simply because Colin doesn’t take the pre-season seriously or maybe he’s part RB and needs to get into a rhythm before he can consistently throw accurate passes. I don’t know I can only come up with so many excuses for the guy.

    WR/TE: Vernon, check. Boldin, check. Smith, check. Please God don’t let any of those 3 get hurt.

    RB: With the vanilla plays on both sides it’s hard to get a feel for the backs. They all look pretty OK at this point. Still not the biggest fan of Hyde and he’s not doing much to change that opinion. My money is still on Michael Davis and Hayne as the future backs of this team.

    OL: Work in progress.

    Defense as a whole: No shocker to anyone that this unit will once again be the teams strong point. Even after losing key players the depth of talent is such that I think hardly a beat will be skipped. The corners are giving us reason to not think they’ll be as horrible as originally believed and Bowmans return quieted many of the ILB fears that arose after game 1. The defensive line is going to be a handful for most teams and I expect our run defense to be top 3 in the league. In regards to pass rush I see the OLB’s ranking as such in total sacks; Lynch, Harold, Brooks, Lemonier. Brooks will be a bust on the right side and Harold will eclipse him as the starter.

    Special teams: I think the return game will be alright…

    1. CFC,

      Good thing you’re not being negative…

      That was a good pass to Smith in the end zone. It was not batted away, as Grant mistakenly said. It was raked from his hands by a defender that first interfered with Smith.

      CK wasn’t great, but he wasn’t bad either.

        1. It seems that through my eyes that the officials have been fairly loose and generous in respect to their lack of calling penalties this preseason.

      1. CK wasn’t great, but he wasn’t bad either.
        That’s quite an endorsement for a 4th year starter playing in the pre-season.

        1. CFC,

          It wasn’t meant to be an endorsement.

          CK didn’t really have a chance to do much more than he did. Not looking bad in such circumstances is a lot better than the alternative.

          My point is, since he’s the starting QB, I’m willing to wait to see what he does once the season starts.

          1. I guess I mistook your comment. My mistake. I did allude that his lack of sharpness could be due to a lack of ability to get into a rhythm with the limited playing time.

            I’m confident that once the season starts that Kaepernick will have his best year statistically speaking.

  21. If you haven’t read this, you might give it a look:


    A telling line:

    “He attended school at John Warby Public School, Leumeah High and Westfields Sports High School but dropped out of high school early to pursue a career in rugby league. Hayne was a national schoolboys champion in the 100-metre hurdles without even training.”

    His father is Fijian and I can tell you from my days announcing Sumo that they are some tough guys right up there with the Maoris.

  22. I no longer follow talk-show-type columns about the Niners (or anything). However, I am aware that there is discussion here and there about whether Jarrod Hayne will make the team… to which I can only offer another question: ARE YOU KIDDING?

    Kniles N.

  23. If Wayne has anything left in the tank, which is highly questionable, this will be a good pick up for the Pats. Surprising that Carolina wasn’t sniffing.

  24. Not sure what to make of the 49ers offense. I like the new look but the passing game looks pretty mediocre so far. This was against a Dallas D that was playing without many starters too. It seemed like they were really trying emphasize the ground game, but the passing game is what needs to start clicking by game #3.

  25. M Martin has received more opportunities than most 1st rd’rs

    I think it is time they decide what his role on the second team unit should be….

  26. Well the preseason is for practicing and that’s pretty much what we saw last night. There wasn’t much of a commitment to the passing game – 10 passes thrown in the first half and about 5 more called that turned into sacks or scrambles – but the running game worked really well. Every RB who got a carry did well with the exception of Gaskins. The Cowboys were playing a combination of backups and fringe roster players for most of the game, but even so, the execution was good in the running game. The passing game was marred by poor protection from the right side again. On the first play Kap had to throw the ball away on, Pears got beaten badly to the inside flushing Kap outside and leaving him to throw it into the seats. On the sack, Martin got beat inside but Looney didn’t block anybody so I’m not sure if there was a mental error there, however on this one I think Kap had a chance to get the ball to one of two short options but reacted to the pressure instead. Poor job by Martin and possibly Looney, but that’s an example of Kap needing to get rid of the ball instead of hitching and pulling it down.

    We are going to have problems with the right side of the line all year I think. Pears and Martin are really struggling with consistency in pass protection and if the Coaching staff is intent on sticking with this group, it’s going to look a lot like last year imo.

    The Dline continues to be the most impressive position group and it’s going to be hard to watch some good players get cut. Purcell is earning himself a job, Okoye is getting better, and even Ramsey has played pretty well at times, and all may not make it on to the roster. Purcell has a shot, but he will have to make it over Jerod-Eddie and I’m not sure the Coaching staff is ready to go that route.

    ILB is another problem area beyond Bowman. Moody looked better this week but is still a step slow at times. Skov will make a pretty good play and then 2 or 3 bad ones. Wilhoite is still hurt. This has gone from being one of the deepest spots on the roster to a concern. They should be looking at the depth charts around the league to see if better options exist elsewhere especially if Wilhoite’s injury lingers into the season.

    DB’s were solid overall, but struggled in zone at times which is where the Cowboys made all their best gains in the passing game. Individually I thought Acker, Johnson and McFadden all stood out at CB, and McCray laid out some nice hits.

    Last but not least, I give up on trying to downplay the Hayne hype. From the moment he was signed I expected it to be an Okoye type situation where the player comes in, learns about the American game and goes on the practice squad to develop. It has become abundantly clear that Hayne doesn’t fit into that mold. His natural ability has allowed him to play fast while learning, which is very impressive. He has a feel for knowing which way to lean, excellent vision and an elusiveness to make people miss in tight areas. I’ve never seen anything like it. I guess Rugby league and American Football are not mutually exclusive. Whatever the case, he’s earned a spot as the teams punt and KR, and also got a chance to play on coverage teams which is what I was waiting to see as that would solidify his roster position. He did well in that area too, getting to the ball carrier first, and while not making the tackle, slowed him up so he was easily brought down by the next tackler behind him. He is an amazing story and I underestimated how talented this guy really is.

    1. Was it a case of underestimating his talent, or underestimating how he’d be able to adapt so quickly as a return man? From recollection, you’ve never doubted his talent.

      With the OL, I’ve said this a few times now so I’ll start to sound like a broken record, but the sooner they add Thomas to the starting unit the happier I’ll be (and better I think the OL will look). He makes the occasional bad block, no question, but for the most part from what I have seen he has been very good. But, I guess until we see him against top competition we don’t really know if he’s ready, or if its an illusion.

      1. Scooter,

        You are correct. By how talented he is, I also meant to imply his ability to adapt so quickly to the American game. I knew he was a phenomenal athlete, but I didn’t see him making the roster in one offseason of learning and playing the game. Hats off to him because he’s kicked the door in and they aren’t getting him out.

        I agree with you on Thomas, but moving him back to LG has me puzzled as to how they plan to use him going forward. I thought there was a good chance he’d take over at RG with Martin being moved to C, but they seem to have scrapped that idea. They seem to be intent on Martin playing RG no matter how much he struggles. If he had a good RT next to him, I’d feel a little better about it, but Pears is a journeyman caliber player who has struggled just as much or worse than Martin so far. Davis retiring may be the biggest hit this team took when it’s all said and done.

        1. Rocket,

          You underestimated Hayne the same way, you’re underestimating the 49ers this coming season (if I used emoticons, there would be a smiley face here).

            1. Rocket,

              Have you found any reason(s) in training camp for increased optimism, or, as the case may be, decreased pessimism for the 49ers chances this year?

              IMO, it looks like the defense is going to be at least top ten; that the offense will be at least top 15; and the special teams could get a shot in the arm from Hayne and Pinion.

              The loss of Aldon Smith put a big dent in the 49ers chances, but I still think things will have to go pretty wrong for their record to be worse than 8-8. Conversely, things will have to go very right for the 49ers record to be better than 10-6.

              1. ex,

                I feel pretty much the same as I did before TC. I think it’s a team that could win 9 games if all goes well and as low as 6 if it doesn’t.

                The Dline is obviously a strength, but the pass rush took a big hit when Aldon was released and the ILB position is paper thin. We will be relying on a lot of youth and inexperience at the CB position it looks like as well, so that is a question mark. I think the defense can be good over time, but it might take awhile before they are cohesive.

                Offensively, the Oline is still a problem, no other way to look at it. The right side was a glaring issue last year and it remains so this season. We can talk all we like about Tory Smith and a rejuvenated Vernon Davis, but if the pass protection is as poor as it was at times last year, the offense will struggle.

                I’m encouraged by the depth we have at RB and TE, but WR is still a question mark after the starters.

                Overall, the team is strong in some areas, weak in others which usually leads to a middling season. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’d love to be wrong on that, but if I’m looking at this team honestly, it is not playoff caliber imo.

              2. Rocket,

                One point we agree on: after the loss of AS, the 49ers will need a lot to go right for them to make the playoffs.

                BTW, all the things you’re pointing out about the team may happen, individually, but for all of the position groups to simultaneously be as bad as you fear, it would be horribly unlucky.

  27. Listened to Greg Cosell on KNBR. He found fault in the running play of Kaep, saying that it was a bad decision to do it. He was basically criticizing the Niners for calling that play. Of course, he sticks with his mantra that Kaep will never succeed until he becomes a solid pocket passer, so he wants Kaep to stay in the pocket until the WR gets open. Too bad he did not realize that Kaep initially looked downfield, but when the opportunity presented itself, Kaep took the easy first down. In other words, they took what the defense gave them. Kaep was well coached because he slid feet first after passing the first down marker.

    1. Seb,

      Cosell didn’t question CK running too soon on that play, he questioned calling a read option run play (he never looked to pass on that play, it was a straight running play).

      His point was, why waste a play on something everyone already knows that CK can run, instead of calling a pocket pass play, so CK could work a skill he needs to develop. I don’t think there was anything wrong with calling a read option run play for CK there.

      I think it’s good for the team to run a couple of those in preseason for practice and to remind the league that time needs to be spent on preparing for the read option.

      1. Sorry, but the pass was an option. It was not a pure running play, because that would be incredibly stupid. Why risk running Kaep and exposing him to hits when it would be 100 times safer to hand off the ball to a RB?
        That is the whole point, the pocket is movable and Kaep has several options. He can use his mobility to avoid sacks and he should take what the defense gives him. Since he made a first down and was untouched, it was a pretty good play in my book.

        1. CK’s right shoulder was always closer to the line of scrimmage during that play. He was never in position to throw, never cocked the ball as if to throw, it was a running play, all the way.

          Look at the play again and find Dallas’ #92, the back side DE. He got crashed down on the RB and that gave CK the “read” to take the “option” of keeping the ball.

          One thing we agree on: it was a good play.

      2. Calling a pocket pass play? Like RGIII last game? Forcing a mobile QB to be only a pocket passer is a recipe for failure, and disaster. Look at RGIII. He was bludgeoned, just like Kaep was 52 times last season. Coach Tomsula is too smart to fall for that trap.

  28. Re-watch the play, it was a straight zone read run. Also, you said he picked up a first down and he didn’t. He gained nine yards. Nit picking, maybe, but if you missed that detail, maybe you missed that the play was a run. All the way.

    1. Maybe you are referring to a different play. If not, he still gained 9 yards which any coach worth his salt would take any day.
      Still, it was an OPTION run.You stated Cosell said it was a read option run play. Kaep was reading what the DBs were doing. Since they ignored him, he took the easy yards. It was not a naked bootleg.

    2. Let me get back to my premise. Cosell emphatically stated that Kaep will never be great until he can sit in the pocket and deliver the ball. I counter with- Why shackle a mobile QB and negate his strengths? Kaep should accentuate his positives and camouflage his weaknesses.
      Cosell wants to force Kaep to be a pocket passer, but I consider that to be like putting an Abrams Tank in a pit. Kaep is so much more dangerous on the run,so it makes perfect sense to run those plays in a preseason game to get better at those.
      JH tried to make Kaep into a pocket passer, and he was sacked 52 times. Repeating the same thing over and over again and expect a different result is the epitome of insanity.

    3. Just looked up the play by play, and it stated that Kaep was in the shotgun. It was a read option play and not a straight run only play.

      1. Seb,

        In a read option play, the option typically isn’t between running and passing, but rather between the QB handing off or running.

        Also, the QB is reading the DE on the play side, not the DB’s.

          1. Seb,

            Just to be sure that I had it right, I took your suggestion and looked up the read option.

            I’m just curious, what to you think is meant by “zone read option”?

            1. You started with read option, and morphed to zone read option. That play could include the pitch, or even a pass. The point is that any option play can include passing, unlike a straight drop back into the pocket pass that Cosell wanted.

            2. Looking back on the fishduck explanation, the zone RO does include the pitch, bubble screen and play action pass. That is what I am emphasizing. You seem to think it only the fullback dive or QB bootleg, which are only running plays. The play has many options, and is what I am talking about when criticizing Cosell. You seem to talk about it being only a running play, when Kaep had the option to do other things, but ended up running the ball.

  29. You ARE nit picking. You never answered any of my questions, but keep parroting your arguments as if catching me in a small mistake makes all my arguments fallacious.
    The point is, they ran a read option instead of a classic drop back pass play. I am happy they ran the RO. Cosell whines about Kaep, and he disses him for not being a classic pocket passer. Kaep did gain 10 yards, but they marked the ball at the point where he started his slide, which was only 9 yards. I am happy he only gained 9 yards because if he went head first and got injured, that would be a disaster.
    I did not know you are such an expert, Pontificating that the read option only keys on one player sure is news to me. I thought the QB’s job was to read the entire field. You must be an innovative genius, because designating a running only play out of the shotgun is a new one to me.

  30. Seb,

    Below, in quotes, is an excerpt from an article on the zone read option.

    Notice the first line in the second to last paragraph, “The Quarterback then reads the back side Defensive End…” That’s what I was referring to.

    BTW, as I said in my first post on this subject, I don’t agree with Cosell that having CK run a couple of zone read runs in preseason are wasted plays, but I do agree with him that CK needs to improve his pocket passing (presence, patience, movement, awareness, etc.), which I believe he is in the process of doing and we’ll see the results this year.

    Anyway, here is the article:

    “Zone Read Option: The Centerpiece of Your Spread Offense

    How to Run the Zone Read Option:

    For any great Spread Offense, particularly those who make their living by running the football, the Zone Read Option is one of the key plays in the offense. In fact, it should be the first play you install and the play you spend the most time working on.
    The beauty of using the Zone Read Option as the base play is that you can do so much with it. For starters, this is 3 plays in one, like any traditional Option Offense play. You have the Inside Zone run, the Quarterback keep and the Pitch. On any given snap, even the Offensive Coordinator cannot be entirely sure which player is going to have the football!

    An additional benefit is that you are using Inside Zone Blocking, and you can built on this for many other plays. With only slight changes, you can run a Lead play, Dart or Outside Zone. Getting your players to understand the concept of zone blocking (not to mention teaching your Quarterback to read), can go a long way to creating a complex and complete Spread Offense running game.

    The Read Element

    The read element of your Zone Read Option will work off of the back side Defensive End. If we are running the play to the right, we might call “Zone Read Option Right” (or something shorter), telling the Running Back and Offensive Line to run the Inside Zone play to the right.

    The Quarterback then reads the back side Defensive End, the first player head-up to outside of the Left Tackle. While there are many ways to teach the QB to read, reading the outside jersey number is a good starting point. If the outside jersey number turns inside or collapses to attack the running back, the QB should keep. If the outside number does not attack the back, the QB should give the football.

    When in doubt, we teach the Quarterback to always give the football. After all, the Offensive Line is blocking for him, and he should be our top ball handler here!
    If the Quarterback decides to keep the football, he attacks to replace where the Defensive End left. He should be replacing the outside hip of the Defensive End.”

    There’s more, but I didn’t include it as it talks about the pitch option, which isn’t used much in pro football.

    1. I just realized that I used incorrect terminology in describing the DE the QB reads. I called him the “play side DE”, which he’s not. He’s the back side DE. I was thinking in terms of the QB and not the entire play.

    2. Yes, the pitch or the QB could do play action pass.Something you ignore, because it does not seem to matter to you. The multiple option is inherent in the scheme, which means that it was not a run only play and never will be because a run only play could be just handing the ball to the RB, or a naked bootleg.This play has options, which includes pitching or passing the ball. In the salient instance, he chose to keep the ball and pick up 9 easy yards.
      That article also stated that it should be the first play installed and the one teams should spend the most time working on. You and Cosell want to waste time on pocket passing only.
      Cosell and his disdain for anything except a pocket pass just demonstrates his bias. He cannot veer from his narrative, even though Chryst has installed a brand new system.
      You are hung up on the fact that it was not a first down. I am commenting on the fact that it did lead to a first down, even though it gained only 9 yards. Kaep is smart to practice that play because he will be able to utilize his skillsets, and practice makes perfect.
      You may pontificate that the QB should key on the DE, and I concede that he will read that players reactions and move to thwart him., but he also has to be aware of where the DBs are, too. In that run, he did not ignore them and just key on only one player. He was cognizant of where the defenders were and slid feet first because he was trying to avoid being hit. If he keys on only one player, he runs the risk of getting blind sided. Kaep should know where every player is on the field and act accordingly.

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