Harbaugh awards 49ers with praise, two game balls

Harbaugh awards 49ers with praise, two game balls
August 28, 2014, 9:45 pm

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It was exciting and what we wanted to see, what we asked them to do, and so many guys responded that way...
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh

Programming note: For comprehensive 49ers-Texans postgame coverage, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 10:30 p.m. and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

HOUSTON -– Coach Jim Harbaugh carried two game balls with him into the locker room following the 49ers’ 40-13 victory over the Houston Texans on Thursday in the exhibition finale.

But he might have needed a dozen or more to properly dispense the credit throughout the 49ers’ locker room in the final game before the club is required to trim its roster from 75 to the 53-player limit.

“I’m sure, like we told the team after the game, there are guys that played the best games of their careers tonight,” Harbaugh said. “It was exciting and what we wanted to see, what we asked them to do, and so many guys responded that way.”

[RELATED: 49ers reserves demolish Texans 40-13 in finale]

Tight end/long-snapper Kyle Nelson caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Josh Johnson. He caught a total of two touchdown passes in his four-year, 50-game career at New Mexico State.

Nelson, who received one of the game balls, did not have to think for very long when asked if it was the best game of his career.

“Oh, easily,” he said.

[RELATED: 49ers rest the regulars in exhibition finale]

The other game ball went to 12-year veteran Kassim Osgood, who did nothing to hurt his cause for a roster spot with a blocked punt that resulted in a safety.

“Sometimes Coach Harbaugh gets excited about the games, so to get game ball is pretty fun –- especially in the preseason,” Osgood said. “I’m trying to make any play I can to be on that (53)-man roster. It’s a good deal to get a game ball.”

On a night in which the 49ers played just three projected starters, many of the backups and bubble players came up with a strong showing against the Texans’ reserves:

--Cornerback Chris Cook “had a heck of a night,” Harbaugh said. Cook had just one short pass caught on him. He defended two passes, including an interception and 33-yard return. He is battling for a roster spot after four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

--Linebacker Chris Borland, who appears as if he’ll open the season behind starters Patrick Willis and Michael Wilhoite, used his instincts to pick off rookie quarterback Tom Savage and score on a 34-yard touchdown return.

--Linebacker Nick Moody started and recorded five tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage.

--Wide receiver Lance Lewis recorded three catches for 61 yards, including a 49-yard go-route from Johnson, to strengthen his case for a spot on the 49ers’ practice squad.

--Running back Glenn Winston had a game-high 55 yards on 11 rushing attempts. Alfonso Smith, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals, gained 44 yards on 12 carries.

--Rookie outside linebacker Aaron Lynch had three tackles, including one for a loss, and batted down his third pass of the exhibition season.

[RELATED: Projecting 49ers' 53-man roster]

--Defensive linemen Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial “continued to keep coming,” Harbaugh said. Dial had two tackles, and Carradine was credited with a quarterback hurry.

--Cornerback Darryl Morris broke up a pass and made two tackles on special teams.

--Tight end Asante Cleveland scored the first touchdown of the game on a 14-yard reception from Blaine Gabbert.

--Rookie Bruce Ellington capped the exhibition season as the 49ers’ leading receiver. He had 12 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown, coming on a 13-yard pass from Josh Johnson.

--The 49ers’ offensive line helped the offense roll up 377 total yards. Carter Bykowski played the entire game at left tackle. Joe Looney started at right guard before moving to get extended time at center.

“Real excited for our guys,” Harbaugh said. “So many of them with their uniforms sweated all the way through, grass stains all over them,” Harbaugh said. “It was great to see them having fun playing a game of football.”

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