Here are the grades for the 49ers 23-10 preseason loss to the Houston Texans.
QUARTERBACKS: B. Colin Kaepernick was decent, completing a short pass to Anquan Boldin, overthrowing a deep pass to Torrey Smith and intentionally throwing a pass away. He clearly needs more work on his deep passes—he overthrew Smith by
about 10 six yards. Blaine Gabbert played into the third quarter and was fantastic. He had the second-team offense rolling at a much quicker pace than the first-team offense was moving. Rookie undrafted quarterback Dylan Thompson was unspeakable, so we won’t speak about him.
RUNNING BACKS: B. Carlos Hyde had a nice run around the left side that was called back due to a holding penalty on tight end Vance McDonald. Kendall Gaskins had a strong four-yard run to the right side of the Niners’ starting offensive line. Mike Davis had a nice 11-yard gain on a run he started to the left and then cut back all the way across the field. But the best run of the game belonged to former Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne. He ran a stretch zone run to the left, exploded through the line, made a defensive back miss and picked up 53 yards. Hayne seems to have a good feel for zone plays, which do not require running backs to run with low pad level.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C. Starters Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith received just one target each, so the receiver who stood out was Jerome Simpson, who made a 25-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter. He seems to be the leader in the No. 3-receiveer competition.
TIGHT ENDS: B. The best tight end of the game was Garrett Celek, who caught two passes for 29 yards and one score. Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier each caught one pass and committed one penalty.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B. Kaepernick faced pressure once out of three drop backs. Gabbert, for the most, part did not face pressure, partly because he got rid of the ball so quickly. Although on one play he scrambled even though there was no pressure, and ended up running into a sack. In the running game, the first-team offense struggled running both to the right and left until Hayne broke through a huge hole on the left side of the offensive line during his big run.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B. Allowed only 3.3 yards per carry and stuffed the Texans’ offense at the goal line six times in a row. That was good. The defensive line also allowed Texans’ starting running back Alfred Blue to average 6.6 yards per carry, and generated no pass rush. That wasn’t good. Pass-rushing specialist Tank Carradine was particularly ineffective. Rookie Arik Armstead may already be a better interior pass-rusher than Carradine, although Armstead seemed to struggle against the run.
LINEBACKERS: C. Starting inside linebackers Nick Moody and Shayne Skov got torched in coverage, and starting outside linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Corey Lemonier generated no pass rush.
SECONDARY: F. Allowed 12 completions on 15 pass attempts by Texans quarterbacks in the first half, and allowed a 119 passer rating in the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Hayne gained 24 yards on two punt returns, and 33 yards on one kick return. He seems like a natural as a returner, and probably the best returner on the team. Rookie punter Bradley Pinion averaged 48.8 yards per punt. The punter he replaced, Andy Lee, averaged 46.8 yards per punt last season.