Aug. 28, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Outside linebacker Aldon Smith was one of the early stars of 49ers' training camp.Teammates raved about Smith's combination of power and quickness within the first week of practices. His long arms always seemed to be around the action, mostly with seemingly uncommonly polished pass-rush moves for a player his age.
The 49ers were surely counting on Smith for major contributions after they selected him with the No. 7 overall pick and converted him from defensive end at Missouri to an NFL outside linebacker.So is he ready to make the transition to being an every-down linebacker?"I think he's in a process right now," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said following the 49ers' 30-7 loss to the Houston Texans in the third exhibition game for both teams.
Smith played the second and third quarters and some in the fourth, too. He was on the field for approximately 45 snaps. He was among the 49ers' team-leaders with five tackles. His strength was in the run game, as he did a commendable job of setting the edge.But the 49ers will be seeking more contributions from him in the passing game. He did not get any pressure on the Texans' quarterbacks, and his inexperience in pass coverage showed when tight end Owen Daniels shook free for a 21-yard reception.Obviously, it's very early in Smith's development. But it looks as if he'll need a little more time before he's ready to be an every-down player. No, the sky is not falling. The only things from the exhibition season that carries over to the regular season are injuries and roles that players win (or lose) during this time of year.But it is also impossible to completely dismiss how the 49ers performed against the Texans. After all, the 49ers have not built enough confidence among its followers over the past decade to just assume things will be better when the season begins. Here's a look at some other 49ers' stock, based on their performances Saturday night:Stock rising
OLB Ahmad Brooks: Not only has he solidified his starting job on the left side, he has been the 49ers' best defensive player during training camp. He sniffed out a screen pass and made an interception that he returned for a touchdown on the game's first play. Brooks also got a little pressure on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and did a good job of setting the edge in the run game.FS Madieu Williams: The veteran has been a sure-tackler on defense and a willing special-teams performer. "I've always played special teams when I was the starter, and hopefully it's something I continue to do while I'm here," Williams said. He provided one of the 49ers' best defensive plays with a forced fumble that led to a takeaway.
RB Kendall Hunter: Starter Frank Gore was given the night off, as Harbaugh wanted to evaluate the backups. Hunter had a strong evening with 40 yards on eight rushes to seemingly take the lead in the race to become the No. 2.DL Will Tukuafu: He entered the game at left defensive end with the second defense in the second quarter, and provided stout defense in the run game. His versatility might give him an inside track in the competition for the 49ers' fifth spot on the defensive line.DL Demarcus Dobbs: The undrafted rookie has shown flashes in each of the three exhibition games. The 285-pounder showed his quickness at the snap with an inside pass-rush move that resulted in an 11-yard sack of Texans quarterback Matt Leinart.CB Chris Culliver: In extensive playing time, he broke up two passes, showed good tackling skills with seven stops and played well on special teams, too.P Sam Paulescu: With Andy Lee on the roster, he has no chance to make the team. But Paulescu will be looking for work on a team that does not have a Pro Bowl punter. He'll be near the top of the list for teams looking for a new leg during the regular season. He was outstanding with a 50.0 average on eight punts.Stock falling
Offensive line: It's unfair to single out just one player on this unit. Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Adam Snyder, Jonathan Goodwin, Chilo Rachal, Anthony Davis and Alex Boone are the team's top seven linemen. Each had at least one bad moment that resulted in a negative play on offense. The worst part is that the 49ers' blocking schemes were "not real complicated," according to Harbaugh. "(But) they were getting us, they were beating us," Harbaugh said.QB Alex Smith: Yes, the protection wasn't the greatest, but 2 for 6 for 17 yards and an interception is 2 for 6 for 17 yards and an interception. Strangely, Smith saw more action last year in the exhibition season than he's seeing this summer in the games.
QB Colin Kaepernick: Yes, the protection wasn't the greatest, but 6 for 16 for 52 yards and a pick-six interception is 6 for 16 for 52 yards and a pick-six interception.WR Ronald Johnson: The sixth-round draft pick had a forgettable night as he got his most playing time of the exhibition season. He played 24 snaps, as well as special teams. He dropped a pass that would've converted a third down, and he mishandled two punts -- one of which resulted in a turnover.RB Anthony Dixon: He seemingly fell behind Hunter on the depth chart. Dixon did not run as decisively as the smaller Hunter. Both had eight rushing attempts. Hunter gained 40 yards, Dixon rushed for just 15.NT Ian Williams: Was not able to hold the point against the run with regularity. In the second half, the Texans controlled the clock with their inside run game. With whom were you most and least impressed among the 49ers from Saturday's exhibition game?
Aug. 28, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE