Observation Deck: San Francisco 49ers
August, 17, 2014
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- It's a good thing for the Levi's Stadium history books that this doesn't count.
The San Francisco 49ers would hate for all of these "firsts" to actually be documented as history at their beautiful new stadium.
The home team couldn't keep up with their impressive new digs Sunday.
The 49ers were throttled 34-0 by the Denver Broncos in the first NFL game at the new stadium, which is replacing Candlestick Park. The San Francisco stadium was the 49ers' home for 43 years. The 49ers have to hope the "real" first game at Levi's stadium -- Sept. 16 against Chicago -- is a much more joyous occasion.
The 49ers have been outscored 57-3 in two preseason games. Is there reason to be concerned? Probably not. The 49ers are playing without six defensive starters, and the offense is pretty vanilla. So yes, as usual, I don't put much stock in the preseason.
Here are some other thoughts:
- The first-team offense -- now complete with receiver Michael Crabtree, who returned to practice Friday after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury -- played a couple of series. It moved the ball well at times but stalled out. Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed five of nine passes for 39 yards. Kaepernick looked to be in preseason form -- some nice throws, but he also had some poor throws.
- Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert continued to look shaky. He was terrible at Baltimore, and he hasn't been very good in practice since. He was 8-of-14 for 40 yards with an interception Sunday. Most of Gabbert's completions were short passes. Still, Gabbert is expected to be the backup to Kaepernick because he is guaranteed $2 million.
- Kicker Phil Dawson missed field-goal attempts from 55 and 44 yards in the first half. Dawson had a huge season last year. I wouldn't be surprised if he chalks up these misses to getting used to the elements at Levi's Stadium. That's what the preseason is for. I'd start to worry about Dawson if he struggles in the first couple regular-season games here.
- Rookie cornerback Kenneth Acker continued his strong showing. He had a nice pass break-up at the goal line, and he had an interception nullified by a penalty. The sixth-round pick might have trouble finding his way on a deep 53-man roster, but if he continues to play well, he will give the 49ers a tough decision. His fellow cornerback, fourth-round pick Dontae Johnson, was beaten for a long touchdown. He has been good in camp, though.
- Rookie receiver Bruce Ellington had a team-high four catches. It is clear the 49ers want to see a lot of this exciting fourth-round pick.