If you didn't watch this game and only check the final score, you would assume the 49ers were competitive and looked reasonably solid on offense against the vaunted Bears defense. And that is why you never assume because you would be incorrect sir. I think the final score of this game is a perfect example of how the preseason really works. The Bears led this game 31-13 at halftime and thoroughly dominated that half. The 49ers did have several opportunities to swing the momentum in their direction. However, every time that happened, there was either a turnover or some stupid penalties, or just poor execution on offense.
I'll have plenty more analysis tomorrow, but for now here's some quick takes:
This was a very weird game for Smith. He had 3 total passing attempts in the first half and 8 overall. I won't say he played badly, but he definitely wasn't good. The way the game and the 49ers game plan unfolded, it seemed apparent that they wanted to stress the run. Smith never had a chance to get in a rhythm and aside from a nice pass to Vernon Davis, didn't get much done. I don't think he can be graded on this performance, but would rather get an I for incomplete.
Trent Dilfer on the other hand was a clear A as he moved the team efficiently and got them a pair of touchdowns. Considering his lack of play last season, Dilfer is really looking good for now. It's against backups, but I feel a little safer in our quarterback depth knowing he can at least complete some passes.
Speaking of stressing the running game. Is it possible to stress it enough but not really execute it? Because that's what happened tonight. Michael Robinson had a couple of decent runs, but also one costly fumble and a lot of dancing around as no holes appeared. And once again, the best performer (for combination of efficiency and numbers) is Thomas Clayton who got 4 carries for 19 yards. I understand the need to give the higher string more reps tonight, but I think at some point you have to look at other areas for production.
Ashley Lelie followed up his game MVP performance last week with a nice little game tonight. Nothing spectacular, but he made some solid plays late in the game.
Delanie Walker continues to be a playmaker this preseason for the 49ers and I think he and Thomas Clayton have been the two most consistently solid performers for the team in the preseason. Lelie is coming on but Walker and Clayton have done well week in and week out.
Rex Grossman should send our defense a thank-you card for giving him a few more weeks at least of starting. Grossman showed his inconsistency over the course of the half, but also consistently burned the secondary with big plays, including three plays of 30+ yards. Not so good. The pass rush was improved and they looked good in containing Cedric Benson for the most part. But still plenty of room for improvement, that's for sure. Congrats though to Walt Harris for his pick-6 in the second quarter.
And big congrats to the backups who continue to perform quite solidly, shutting out the Bears in the second half.
The biggest issue was the penalties. Vernon Davis had a couple stupid ones, the team got a 12 men on the field on defense and they were killed by illegal contact calls on the secondary. Definitely the worst game for penalties and something that needs to be cleaned up soon.
Overall, this was an ugly game and Alex Smith definitely said it best when he was speaking with the sideline reporter after he came out. While there were some good things out there, the team clearly has a ways to go before they can be happy with their performance. Thankfully, Coach Nolan is the type of guy who won't sit by and hope it changes. Hopefully he'll get on them in practice and get some better practice habits going.