When the 49ers leading passer is Shaun Hill, the leading rusher is Thomas Clayton and the leading receiver is CJ Brewer, I think it's safe to say we are most definitely in the thick of the preseason. Considering the starters lasted a quarter, there was plenty of action and plenty to look into going forward. At the same time, it's still early and seeing Shaun Hill complete some pretty passes does not really mean a whole heck of a lot.
The original plan was for me to be sitting upper reserved section 6, 20 rows up in the southwest corner of the stadium. However, a couple hours before the game, a buddy of mine called and said he had some extra tickets from a client, along with tickets to the 49ers Alumni Tailgate Party. Well the tailgate was certainly fun as I managed to meet Steve Bono and enjoy some free food and booze. Then we walked to our seats at 5 and suffice to say, we did ok. We were in section 40 (the north end zone) row A. Indeed we were in the front row. When the Broncos kicked their first extra point, if you looked to the far right of the screen you would have seen a smudge that was me. One game later I can say those are the best and the worst seats in the house. Obviously it was cool being right down close, but when the offense was going away from us it was impossible to figure anything out, as we lacked depth perception. However, when offenses were coming at us we had a better view of things. In fact, on Trent Dilfer's interception, I could tell immediately it was going to get picked off. I believe Delanie Walker thought he was on some sort of fly route and Dilfer thought he was going to cut in with some sort of post pattern. Or Dilfer just made a bad throw.
I TiVoed the game so that I could go back and check out the coverage and get a better idea of things. I certainly enjoy football in person, but it's one sport where the viewing experience is enhanced by the tv. Unless of course you hate the announcers. Speaking of which, I'm re-watching the game and I've always been a fan of Ron Jaworski. So hopefully Jaws improves the experience.
So, for now I'll throw out some of my own observations on the game including highlights and low lights. I noticed some of the questions you guys posted so I'll see what I can answer from that:
- Maurice Hicks looked solid in limited action, with a couple of solid runs and a nice catch. Michael Robinson also looked ok in limited play.
- I was quite pleased to see Thomas Clayton get a heavy dose of carries. He wasn't spectacular and showed the problem of dancing behind the line, but looked ok for his first game.
- Delanie Walker looked really good in making some nice catches. On the other hand Vernon Davis was just as nonexistent as people were wondering. No touches and nothing really to show for the game. Nothing to worry about yet, but definitely worth noting.
- I agree that the defense looked out of sync and is still learning the 3-4. It seems like most of the big runs were a result of shoddy tackling, as much as good runs. It's also a shame we can't see Aubrayo Franklin in the nose tackle role. My biggest worry going into the season is how long it takes for the defense to come together and form a cohesive unit. That is the biggest concern when it comes to a potential slow start.
- Alex Smith definitely looked solid for his limited snaps. A solid DJax catch and Arnaz Battle made a very smooth sliding catch. Also, I just heard the Kornheiser comment about the small hands and Jaws shot him down pretty quickly considering his own hand size.
- Tarell Brown had the nice interception. It's going to take a little more of that before he makes some waves, but I like it from the start. Also, Dashon Goldson seemed to be all over the field making plays. Always good to see rookies showing the fire.
- The one problem I had with play-calling was that it seemed a little conservative at times. Trent Dilfer may not have the greatest arm at times, but I would have liked to see him go down field a little bit more. I'm curious to see how Hostler's play-calling develops over the preseason and into the season.
- The peewee football games were a lot of fun to watch. They had two sets of teams squaring off on each end of the field. It was a lot of scoring and they had to hustle back to the line each time. All in all though, it was a lot of fun.