Here’s the rest of the good and the not-so-good from last night’s exhibition game against the Chargers.
- Kendall Hunter: Finished the game with 113 all-purpose yards. Twice he was thrown to the grown and he landed on his feet to gain more than five yards. He’s very fast, he has a very low center of gravity, and he’s very balanced, all of which makes him a very good running back. Harbaugh and Roman will have to figure out ways to get Hunter in the game, because he shouldn’t be used merely as Gore’s backup. Hunter is a weapon.
- Anthony Dixon: Converted three short-yardage situations – one for a first down and two for touchdowns. The only role left for him is to be a short-yardage back, and he excelled at that duty Thursday night. He was certainly more effective running the ball up the middle than his competition, Xavier Omon, who was more effective catching passes. Dixon will certainly make the team, and Omon will probably go to the practice squad, unless the Niners keep four tailbacks.
- Aldon Smith: Finished the game with 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 QB hits, and 2 tackles for loss. When he played against the second stringers he looked like the best player on the field. He outplayed his competition, Parys Haralson, so decisively that Smith could take his starting right outside linebacker job as early as week one.
- Demarcus Dobbs. Frequently bull rushed offensive linemen straight back into the pocket. Also, he opened up a couple of lanes for Aldon Smith to rush the quarterback. Dobbs looks like the fourth best defensive lineman on the team, and if Ray McDonald struggles at any point of the season, look for Dobbs to be the first guy off the bench to take his spot.
- Antwan Applewhite. Finished with 6 tackles and a half a sack, but got around the right tackle a few times to hurry and hit the quarterback. Applewhite will be a good backup for Ahmad Brooks at left outside linebacker.
- Larry Grant. Made vicious hits on fullbacks and running backs, and finished the game with six tackles. Grant looks like the only true Ted linebacker, as Bowman and Willis both are more of the Mike type. So if Bowman ever struggles stopping the run, look for Larry Grant to make a push for his job.
- Parys Haralson: Finished the game with no tackles, and he was one of the main culprits on Ryan Mathews’ breakaway touchdown run. Haralson rushed up field like he was trying to rush the quarterback, but it was a run play and Mathews sprinted right through the hole Haralson created. Haralson is supposed to be better against the run and in coverage than Aldon Smith at this point, but if he can’t get to the quarterback or stop the run he’s going to lose his starting job fast.
- Bruce Miller. Missed a block in the red zone when Alex Smith wanted to roll right. Missed blocks like these ensure Moran Norris will not only make the team, but start.
- Will Tukuafu. He was the other culprit on Mathews’ long run. Tukuafu got pushed to his right and onto his butt. Tukuafu needed to have a big performance to make the team, but instead Dobbs was the guy who stepped up.
- Ronald Johnson. He broke late on a quick slant and got Colin Kaepernick’s well-thrown pass picked off. Johsnon cannot seem to get open in the NFL, and at this point he’s looking like a practice squad player at best.
- Phillip Adams: Needed to stand out to lock up a roster spot and he did not. He’s clearly not fully recovered from injury. He’s not practice squad eligible either, so if the Niners don’t cut it him, it means they like what they’ve seen from him on film, since he’s shown very little this training camp and exhibition season.
- Colin Kaepernick: Threw 2 interceptions and had a 19.6 quarterback rating. Kaepernick is indecisive in the pocket, so he holds onto the ball too long. He also stares down his receivers, and he has very little touch on his passes. McCown looks like a more capable backup right now.
Follow me on twitter @grantcohn