Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' loss to Texans
Back to drawing board
Jim Tomsula's 49ers fell to Bill O'Brien's Texans 23-10 on Saturday night. Matt Maiocco offers five main takeaways...
5) Offensive line not set
Lock in Joe Staley, Alex Boone and Erik Pears as starters on the offensive line, but competition remains for the other two spots. Brandon Thomas did not have a good offseason program, but he is rounding into form after missing his rookie year after sustaining a torn ACL before the 2014 draft. Thomas played well at right guard with the second unit. Center Daniel Kilgore, recovering from a follow-up surgery on the lower left leg that was fractured last season, is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Both Joe Looney and Marcus Martin are options at center and right guard.
4) Corners look just fine
The Texans threw for 254 yards with a team passer rating of 119.9. But most of the problems with the 49ers' pass defense resulted from miscommunication or with linebackers in coverage. Cornerback Shareece Wright gave up a two-point conversion pass, but had tight coverage on a back-shoulder throw. And, on the other side, Tramaine Brock was called for a questionable pass interference in the end zone. Keith Reaser had an impressive debut, and Kenneth Acker picked up where he left off from last year’s strong preseason. Along with Dontae Johnson, the 49ers appear to be in good shape with talent and depth at this spot.
3) Pass rush in question
The most notable change after Aldon Smith’s release is that Ahmad Brooks was switched to the right edge. Aaron Lynch did not suit up. Corey Lemonier started and his most notable play was a pass breakup at the line of scrimmage. Rookie Eli Harold had a hit on the quarterback and could be a factor. Lawrence Okoye, who’s fighting for a spot, nearly had two sacks. He missed one, and was a split-second late on the other. Rookie Arik Armstead had one hit on the QB while seeing significant playing time. First-year defensive coordinator Eric Mangini has to come up with more blitzes, and that kind of scheming might be needed for the 49ers to deliver consistent pressure.
Deep threat for Kaepernick
The 49ers wanted to take speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith for a test drive, and that’s what they did when he ran a deep route on the third play of the game. Colin Kaepernick overthrew Smith, and Smith did not adjust his route to take the best angle. Kaepernick and Smith need to get more familiar working with each other, for sure, but now the 49ers have at least a threat of the deep ball. The 49ers have lacked any kind of speed threat in recent seasons. The 49ers can be expected to take deep shots every game with Smith. They want to hit on some of those, of course, but the mere presence of the long ball should keep the safeties honest, which will help the run game, as well as Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis.
1) First impression of Hayne
Running back Jarryd Hayne did not win a job on the 53-man roster, but he will almost certainly earn NFL paychecks this fall. At worst, he will continue to develop and refine his game from the 49ers’ practice squad. After all, Hayne would still seem to fall behind Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush, Kendall Hunter and Mike Davis on the 49ers’ depth chart. Don't rule him out, either. Hayne is a confident, bold, sure-handed return man who has a knack for making the first would-be tackler miss. He can win a roster spot based on his contributions on special teams. On offense, he still needs to run lower, protect the ball, and be more decisive when there’s not an obvious hole through which to run.