- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jim Harbaugh liked what he saw from his first-team offense on Sunday.
“Some good things," he said. "Moved the ball. Thought our precision was better.
"Just productive plays. Execution.”
Surely, after the San Francisco 49ers' starters were limited to a field goal in four possessions against the San Diego Chargers in each team's third preseason game, Harbaugh had to be referring to one series in particular in the 49ers' 21-7 victory.
The one in which the 49ers drove downfield for Phil Dawson's 39-yard field goal to break an eight quarter scoreless streak that went over 23 possessions dating to their exhibition opener at the Baltimore Ravens.
Consider: before that drive, in which the 49ers went 55 yards in 12 plays, they had 17 total yards, with running back Frank Gore losing 2 yards on his lone rush and quarterback Colin Kaepernick overthrowing a receiver, taking a sack and losing a fumble, among other unmemorable plays.
“We have some things to improve on before we get to the season,” said Kaepernick, who was hit numerous times due to a leaky left side of his offensive line.
“We have good plays, we just didn't execute.”
Added tight end Vernon Davis: “We've been struggling a little bit ... once we get rolling, then it's all downhill after that. We can do whatever we want, whatever we put our minds to. But it's just about getting into that zone.”
More twilight zone than anything before, the 49ers finally clicked on that fourth offensive series.
Kaepernick begin to find his receivers, the offense started to flow as he completed five straight passes to five different receivers.
He found Anquan Boldin for a 9-yard pickup and then hit LaMichael James for a 7-yard gain. Davis was next for 16 yards and then Michael Crabtree caught a 10-yard bullet before Kaepernick's dump off to Bruce Miller picked up 7 yards, and the 49ers were at the Chargers' 17-yard line.
That's when a familiar bugaboo reared its head -- Kaepernick's issues in the red zone. Sure, he tried to continue spreading the ball around, but his passes to Quinton Patton and Vance McDonald were both knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
The 49ers had to settle for Dawson's field goal and, after being outscored by a running 64-0, they were on the board.
After the 49ers scored, the day was over for their first-team offense for all intents and purposes.
“We just have to keep it together, keep it tight,” Davis said. “Because if one guy, two guys fall off and they're not on the same page as everybody else, then it could be a disaster.”
And we've already seen a glimpse of that in this preseason.