Few bright spots in 49ers' loss to Texans


Few bright spots in 49ers' loss to Texans

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Coach Jim Harbaugh gave 49ers running back Frank Gore the night off.Just consider the rest of the 49ers' offense -- and a good portion of the team -- as an unexcused absence Saturday night at Candlestick Park."It's a bitter pill to swallow when you're beaten that thoroughly in pretty much all phases," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said after his team's 30-7 loss to the Houston Texans."I think the defense wasn't quite as bad as special teams, and special teams weren't quite as bad as the offense. Specifically with the offense, we didn't get any kind of rhythm going. It's on everybody involved with the offense: protection, route-running, decision-making -- all those things."RECAP: 49ers look lost in 30-7 loss to the Texans
The third exhibition game is generally seen as the closest thing to the regular season. Well, the 49ers demonstrated they have a lot of work to accomplish before they open at home against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 11.Harbaugh said he is confident the team will be ready for the regular season. But why?"Because we have to," Harbaugh said. "It's not an option not to."
Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks gave the 49ers a 7-0 lead just nine seconds into the game with a 13-yard interception return, as he stepped in front of an attempted Matt Schaub screen pass.From that point on, the Houston Texans thoroughly dominated the 49ers en route to 30 unanswered points before the smallest turnout to attend a 49ers home game in three decades. The announced crowd of 69,732 was for tickets sold, and does not reflect the abundance of no-shows.Do you want to know how bad it was?MAIOCCO: Blog -- 49ers vs. Texans In-game notes
--Rookie Colin Kaepernick completed 6 of 16 passes for 52 yards. He had an interception returned for a touchdown. His 20.8 passer rating far exceeded that of starter Alex Smith, who completed 2 of 6 attempts for 17 yards and an interception. Smith's rating was 2.8.
--Schaub completed 16 of 24 passes for 180 yards in his one half of work, as the Texans had four receivers with at least 35 yards receiving. The 49ers' leading receivers were Kyle Williams and Dominique Zeigler, who caught one pass apiece for 15 yards.--The 49ers managed six first downs, including just three through the air. The 49ers had the same number of first downs passing as sacks allowed, and there were also numerous quarterback pressures that resulted in incomplete passes, along with one of the interceptions. The Texans, meanwhile, rolled up 28 first downs.--Total yards: Texans 417, 49ers 105.There weren't very many bright spots, especially on offense, but rookie Kendall Hunter might have taken a large stride toward winning the job as Gore's primary backup.Gore suited up for the game and went through warmups, but he did not play as Harbaugh said he wanted to take an extended look at Hunter and Dixon against the Texans' starters.Both running backs got eight rushing attempts. Hunter gained 40 yards, while Dixon managed just 15.Afterward, Gore made it clear that the fact he is entering the final year of his contract is weighing heavily on his mind. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is scheduled to meet with 49ers' chief negotiator Paraag Marathe on Monday for the second time in three weeks to discuss an extension."I want something to get done before the season," Gore said. "Hopefully, something can get done here. If it doesn't happen, I still got to be here for my teammates and try to stick it out. . . . Hopefully, man, hopefully, hopefully, I hope it gets done. And I hope I can get something fair."Gore is unlikely to play in the exhibition finale Thursday night at San Diego, but he declared himself ready for real games to begin."I'm ready," Gore said. "I trained hard this offseason, and I practice hard every day. Once my number gets called, '21' is going to be ready. I hope everything gets done, so my mind is right and I can just play football."Is his mind right without the new contract?"I have my days, but once I touch the field, I don't think about it," Gore said. "I'm going to be here for my team and try to get some wins."There might be a lot weighing on the minds of those involved with the 49ers' offense as the third exhibition game. The same problems in pass protection that were obvious in the exhibition opener came back to haunt the 49ers."Obviously, there's room for improvement for all of us," Smith said.Left tackle Joe Staley was beaten for one sack. Left guard Mike Iupati had a breakdown that led to another. Center Jonathan Goodwin, who is competing with Adam Snyder for the starting job, had his problems, as well."It's not something I'm worried about, to be honest with you," Smith said. "We have a great group up front and they work as hard as anybody. They're talented. Protection doesn't always fall on them. It falls on everybody sometimes."Smith's one interception came as he fluttered a pass into the middle of the field while Texans defensive end Antonio Smith delivered a hard hit. Houston free safety Troy Nolan had both interceptions. Kaepernick's pick came when he tried to deliver a pass deep down the middle to Braylon Edwards. Nolan returned it 73 yards for a second-quarter touchdown."I saw the safety, but I thought Braylon would cross his face before he got there," Kaepernick said. "It was just a bad judgment on my part."One of the few bright spots was provided by fill-in punter Sam Paulescu, who was signed to take over for Andy Lee. Paulescu averaged 50 yards on eight punts. Lee is expected to return from a bruise right hip for the start of the regular season.Said Harbaugh, "We're not going to have any 'loser' talk or hang our heads. If you're waiting for that, you're not going to get it. We're going to keep our heads up and forge ahead."

49ers: Solomon Thomas capable of playing anywhere on D-line

49ers: Solomon Thomas capable of playing anywhere on D-line

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected defensive linemen with their top picks in the final two drafts under general manager Trent Baalke.

The 49ers fired Baalke at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season, and new general manager John Lynch stepped into a tear-down project.

That complete rebuild began Thursday evening with Lynch’s selection of another defensive lineman. The 49ers traded back one spot and selected Solomon Thomas of Stanford with the No. 3 overall pick.

“We see a special football player, disruptive football player, who has tremendous versatility,” Lynch said. “I think he fits in with the current group that we have because he’s a little different than the guys we have. And when I think of Solomon, I think of speed and quickness and disruption.”

The 49ers expect to play more of an aggressive, attacking style of defense under first-year coordinator Robert Saleh. Perhaps, the team’s biggest need is at the “Leo” position, the weak side end that is considered more of a pass-rusher.

Thomas appears better-suited at the other end or at a defensive tackle position, but the 49ers are keeping an open mind about using him at nearly every spot along the defensive line in the team’s new 4-3 scheme.

“There are four defensive linemen and what’s intriguing about Solomon is he has the ability to play all four of them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s what makes him so unique. That’s why I think John says he’s a little bit different than some of the guys we have, because you can move him around. He has the quickness and speed to play on the outside. He has enough sides to play on the inside, so you don’t want to put him in one spot.

“We don’t think he has to be one specific role. Obviously, he is a defensive lineman, but there’s four spots he can play at and I think that’s going to depend on down and distance, whether we’re expecting run, whether we’re expecting pass and the type of personnel we’re going against.”

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers began Thursday with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

When his first day as 49ers general manager reached its conclusion, John Lynch had selected two of the three top players on his draft board and picked up additional third-round picks for this year and next year.

After Myles Garrett, the 49ers’ top-rated prospect, was the Cleveland Browns’ selection at No. 1 overall, the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears. The 49ers still got their No. 2-rated prospect, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

The 49ers started making calls to teams with selections in the teens, according to coach Kyle Shanahan, to inquire about trading up for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. The 49ers finally worked out a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to move up three spots to No. 31.

The 49ers selected Foster one spot ahead of the New Orleans Saints, who were apparently ready to select Foster with the No. 32 pick.

Said Lynch, "Reuben thought that because we were at 34, we made a trade at the end with Seattle and when I was talking to him, he said, ‘Coach, New Orleans is taking me.' And I said, ‘No, we’re taking you.’ It was hard because it happened late in the process and so, he was really excited when he found out that we had pulled off that trade and we were certainly very excited.”

And all the 49ers gave up to make the necessary move was a fourth-round pick acquired from the Bears earlier in the day.

The 49ers got everything the could have ever wanted from Day 1 of the draft.

“In terms of how we rated them, we got two of our top three players,” Lynch said. “We’re thrilled. We’re ecstatic. I think these guys have traits that encompass what we want to be about as a football organization.”

Lynch said he began speaking with Bears general manager Ryan Pace more than a week ago. Because the 49ers had picks scheduled next to the Bears in every round, Pace suggested to Lynch that the two teams should be willing to work with each other throughout the draft.

The 49ers had other offers for the No. 2 pick, Lynch said. A source told NBC Sports Bay Area just prior to the start of the draft that the 49ers had fielded three solid offers.

The team’s chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe worked out the details to finalize the trade with the Bears.

The 49ers did not know which player the Bears were targeting at No. 2, but Shanahan voiced his opinion while the trade was going down.

“This guy is a pretty bright,” Lynch said of Shanahan. “He said, ‘That’s not for a defensive lineman. That’s for a quarterback.’ And he was right.”

The Bears made the trade to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick. In order for the Bears to trade up one spot, they delivered the 49ers a third-round pick (No. 67), a fourth-round pick (No. 111) and a third-round pick next year.

Jacksonville executive Tom Coughlin, whose team held the No. 4 pick, watched and admired the 49ers' move from afar. 

"To get what you had in mind right off the bat and pick up those extra picks? Pretty nice deal," Coughlin told Jacksonville reporters. "I’ve never seen one of those. . . Oh, my gosh. Nothing like that has ever come my way.”

When asked if the 49ers would have selected Foster if the Bears selected Thomas, Lynch said, “Perhaps. It was very likely.”

Instead, the 49ers waited and waited and waited before finding a trade partner in an unlikely place. The 49ers made a deal with Seattle, giving up the 111th pick obtained from Chicago, to select Foster before the Saints had a chance.

“He’s my kind of player,” Lynch said of Foster. “He plays sideline to sideline, and he’ll hit anything that moves. I think that’s contagious for teammates.”

Foster is recovering from shoulder surgery and his stock was negatively affected by character concerns. He was sent home from the NFL scouting combine after an argument with a hospital worker during his medical check. He also had a positive drug test due to a diluted urine sample.

Lynch spent a lot of time with Foster during his visit to Santa Clara, as well as a meeting him at the combine. Both Lynch and Shanahan spoke regularly with Foster on the phone and on FaceTime in the past few weeks.

The 49ers also dispatched vice president of football affairs Keena Turner and team chaplain Earl Smith to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to meet with Foster for two days. The team will have a plan in place to help guide Foster as he transitions to professional football, Lynch said.

“I would tell you that his character is what drew us to him,” Lynch said. “When you start talking football with this young man, he lights up a room. He’s a good kid. I believe in the kid. I think he’ll be a great player for this organization for a long time.”