Live blog: 49ers @ Texans

The 49ers play exhibition game no. 2 tonight in Houston against the Texans. I’m sitting in my living room watching it on TV like you. Chat here in the live blog, which I update frequently with information and analysis.

4:55 The Niners two starting outside linebackers – Aldon Smith and Parys Haralson – did not fly to Houston. Parys Haralson and Eric Bakhtiari will start in their place. For the Texans, starting defensive linemen Shaun Cody and J.J. Watt will not play, but All Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson will.

5:11 Chris Culliver gave up a 22-yard completion to Keshawn Martin on a deep in route, but the Niners defense tightened up after that, eventually forcing the Texans into a third and nine. Schaub threw a screen pass to Foster, but Whitner tackled him after just a two yard gain. Whitner is one of the best tacklers on the Niners. Great play.

5:14 Shane Graham made a 48-yard field goal. 3-0 Texans.

5:24 David Akers just made a 52-yard field goal. The drive started out with Frank Gore gaining 14 yards behind Mike Iupati on a second-and-six run. It seems like the Niners will have three very good running backs to start the season – Gore, Kendall Hunter and Brandon Jacobs.

Later in that drive Alex Smith got sacked by Connor Barwin. Smith tried to step up in the pocket and scramble, but Barwin got him before he gained a yard.

On a third and five, Smith rolled to the right and made a beautiful play, connecting with Ted Ginn Jr. for a 24 yard gain. That’s the type of play Smith needs to make to take his game to the “next level.”

But two plays later, Smith missed a wide open Randy Moss streaking down the field for what should have been an easy touchdown. Smith checked down to Vernon Davis on a crossing route instead, and Davis dropped the pass.

The drive ended on third and seven. The Texans rushed six men and the Niners couldn’t pick it up. Smith got sacked immediately.

5:32 The Niners defense forces the Texans offense into a three-and out. Demarcus Dobbs appears to be the defensive end in the nickel formation in place of Aldon Smith.

5:35 Brandon Jacobs just took a vicious shot from to his left knee and he’s lying on his back. Jim Harbaugh is kneeling over him. You hate to see this.

5:38 Jacobs hops off the field on one leg under the arms of Harbaugh and a trainer.

5:42 The first quarter just ended and Smith is 0-3 on this drive so far. He threw a pass right to Texans’ DB Grover Quinn but Quinn dropped it. Then Smith threw high to Michael Crabtree, and then he threw low to Kendall Hunter.

5:51 The Niners have the ball at the Texans’ 33-yard line, and Harbaugh just called timeout. The drive was chugging along until right tackle Anthony Davis got flagged for holding on first down. The Niners moved the ball down the field thanks to a 17-yard Kendall Hunter run on third and four, and a 2-yard Anthony Dixon run on fourth and one.

5:54 Alex Smith just completed a 13-yard pass to Randy Moss on third and 14, but Anthony Dixon couldn’t pick up the fourth down this time and the Texans take over on downs. Dixon did a good job powering through two tacklers on his first carry, but he got pushed backwards the second time.

5:59 The Texans just missed a field goal. Matt Schaub completed a 43-yard pass to Andre Johnson on first down. Johnson jumped right over Tramaine Brock and Trenton Robinson to catch it. Later on third and seven, Ricky Jean Francois sacked Schaub. Jean Francois is one of the strongest players on the team, and he showed it there.

6:01 Alex Smith is out and Colin Kaepernick is in.

6:05 My mom just said, “So far I haven’t seen anything spectacular.”

6:10 David Akers just made a 36-yard field goal to put the Niners up 6-3. Kendall Hunter gained 14 yards up the middle on third and fifteen, but Harbaugh chose to go for the field goal this time. Hunter looks like the best player on the offense tonight.

6:23 The Texans’s no. 1 offense just easily drove 80 yards down the field for a touchdown against the Niners no. 2 defense. No surpre. 54 seconds left in the half.

6:29 Halftime, 10-6 Texans. Alex Smith completed 5 of 9 passes for 49 yards – 71.1 QB rating. Kendall Hunter gained 46 yards on 6 carries – that’s a 7.7 yards per rush average. Even if the Niners lose Jacobs for a while, they should have an excellent rushing attack.

6:32 LaMichael James gained 14 yards on two carries. He didn’t stand out in training camp, but he looked terrific on those two runs.

6:46 The Niners second-team offense just went three-and out to start the second half. Kaepernick almost got picked off on first down when he telegraphed a pass to Kyle Williams, but Kaepernick managed to squeeze the pass between two defenders and Williams caught it. On third and two, Kaepernick competed a pass to Dixon for no gain. The Niners do not look sharp tonight.

6:54 The Niners no. 2 defense just gave up a first down and just nine net yards to the Texans’ no. 2 offense. Three defenders stood on that series: Eric Bakhtiari, Ricky Jean Francois and Ian Williams. Bakhtiari set the edge against the run, got pressure on the quarterback and induced a holding penalty. Jean Francois and Williams each collapsed the pocket and forced T.J. Yates to throw bad passes.

6:57 Kaepernick just went three-and-out again. He missed Brett Swain by a few yards on third and seven. Kaepernick’s QB rating is 56.2.

7:08 The Texans just made a 49-yard field goal, and now they lead by 7. On that drive, T.J. Yates burned Tramaine Brock a few times. Brock looks like he may not make the team. Undrafted safety from Stanford Michael Thomas ended the drive with a blitz sack.

7:08 Josh Johnson is in the game at QB.

7:11 Josh Johnson made the best deep pass of the Niners’ preseason, hitting A.J. Jenkins on second and nine for a 32-yard gain. Then on the next play, Johnson overthrew Jenkins. The drive ended when Rock Cartwright couldn’t run for the first down on third and five. Johnson and Jenkins look very good against the Texans’ third-stringers.

7:13 David Akers makes a 55-yard field goal. He’s still got it. 13-9 Texans.

7:30 Trindon Holliday just returned an Andy Lee punt 87 yards for a TD. 20-9 Texans. Josh Johnson was 2-4 on that drive, hitting Konrad Reuland 15 yards and Bryan Tyms for 12, but Johnson also missed A.J. Jenkins twice – once deep and once short on third and three.

7:35 Scott Tolzien time. He’s in at quarterback.

7:47 Not a great first series for Tolzien. He completed two of four passes for ten yards yards. He’ll get another chance right now.

7:51 LaMichael James is writhing in pain on the ground. The trainers are holding his left ankle.

7:52 Like Jacobs earlier, James cannot put any pressure on his injured left leg as the trainers carry him off the field.

7:54 James is now putting light pressure on the ankle on the sideline. He’s limping to the cart, and now he’s getting carted off the field. This has been a terrible night for the Niners.

8:00 49ers who are currently injured: Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James, Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Perrish Cox and Delanie Walker.

8:03 The 49ers lose 20-9.  The player of the night was Kendall Hunter, but the story of the night was the injuries to two other running backs – Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James.  The goal of preseason is to finish it healthy, and the Niners aren’t accomplishing that. What’s more, the offense has yet to show strides from last year, and neither the defense or special teams have played sharp. I’ll have my grades posted first thing in the morning.

UPDATE: Harbaugh says Jacobs’ injury is not a season-ender. Did not tear his ACL or patella.

ONE MORE UPDATE: Frank Gore told Vern Glenn that LaMichael James just sprained his ankle and James should be ready for the season opener.

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