Saturday, August 28, 2010
First impressions: 49ers at Raiders
By Mike Sando
Five thoughts after watching the San Francisco 49ers take a 17-14 lead over the Oakland Raiders late in the first half:
- Quarterback Alex Smith appeared frustrated at times. The 49ers' broadcast team said Smith thought the 49ers' coaches were late getting plays to him. Smith seemed slow to get going, but he weathered a big hit to lead a scoring drive late in the second half. Smith completed 9 of 15 passes for 113 yards, one touchdown and a 105.7 rating. Smith played well a week earlier against Minnesota, particularly during the opening drive and particularly under the circumstances (he was without Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore). There are no questions about quarterback job security in San Francisco.
- The 49ers' running game showed signs of life. Gore gained 49 and 9 yards on his only carries. Brian Westbrook gained 17 yards on third-and-6. Anthony Dixon didn't get much going in the half, but he won't be playing if this season goes to plan for the 49ers. Getting some brief work for Gore made sense. Having Gore break a long run despite limited opportunities? That works for the 49ers.
- The 49ers appeared to miss cornerback Shawntae Spencer, who rested a sore hamstring. It's tough to evaluate coverages from a press box, let alone on television, but it seemed as though the Raiders had some success throwing toward Tarell Brown. The 49ers can live with that as long as the rest helped Spencer get ready for the regular season. This is Spencer's second season back from major knee surgery. He should be better than he was last season -- and he wasn't bad last season.
- Phillip Adams had already made a positive impression in 49ers camp even before his 83-yard punt return for a touchdown. That's the type of play that can secure a roster spot for a young player.
- The 49ers decided to give Crabtree more time to rest his sore neck. Crabtree had been expected to play. Receiver Josh Morgan, a forgotten man for the 49ers this offseason, used the occasion to remind the 49ers he still exists. Morgan caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Smith. The offseason emphasis on Crabtree's development, Smith's comfort level, Ted Ginn Jr.'s addition and Davis' continued excellence has left Morgan largely in the dark. Morgan's yards-per-catch plummeted after Crabtree joined the 49ers last season. It'll be interesting to see where he fits into the offense this season.
As noted previously, I didn't get to watch this game as closely while watching the quarterback situation unfold for Arizona. Looking forward to watching the game again from the beginning. What else did you see?