San Francisco 49ers 20 - Dallas Cowboys 13: Should I order my Nate Davis jersey yet?

Ok,I'm getting ahead of myself.  I was out at a friend's house-warming, but managed to catch the last 5 minutes (game time) of the game.  I also recorded the game so I had a chance to watch the second half once I got home.  All in all, I have to say I feel pretty good about myself.  Why you ask?  I've said from day one that Nate Davis would not be able to be stashed on the practice squad.  I certainly didn't foresee this kind of preseason performance, but I was convinced the talent was there.  After reviewing the tape, there are two things I come away with two primary observations:

1. Nate Davis looked good, but obviously it was against the Cowboys substitutes.  And of course he got a lot of lucky on that pass interference play on the last drive.  In the end, Shaun Hill is the starting quarterback and that's the way it is.  The 49ers could stick Nate Davis out with the #1s next weekend at San Diego and no matter what (injuries aside), Shaun Hill would be the starting quarterback week 1 at Arizona.  I can live with that.

2. There is NO way the 49ers can risk trying to slip Nate Davis through waivers onto the practice squad.  The 49ers know what they have with Damon Huard, thus the lack of playing time.  However, I still think the team should just go with Hill, Smith and Davis.  Even Maiocco has come around to that fact.  Folks in the comments are coming around to that fact.  Nate Davis has to be on the 53-man roster.  That's just the way it is.

What I like most about Nate Davis?  Three things: 1) He's got a rocket for an arm and thus can make the plays on the run that guys like Shaun Hill and Alex Smith simply don't have the arm power to make.  2) He's still shown he can hit the receivers in stride at times.  3) More importantly, he's shown some excellent decision-making ability.  Maybe it's against opposing defense backups, but anything that instills confidence in a rookie is a good thing.

Plenty more analysis and some player transcripts after the jump...

Unfortunately I couldn't find a picture of Nate Davis in game action, so I went with the next best thing: RB Kory Sheets, who looked quite solid, most notably on his second touchdown run.  Speaking of the practice squad, while his yards per carry averaged out below the magic 4.0, that 9 yard touchdown rumble might have been enough to solidify a spot in the eyes of Coach Singletary.  We've continued to go with Sheets on our 53-man roster projection and I see no reason to change that at this point.  I know people are high on a guy like Brit Miller, but do you risk putting him on your practice squad, or Kory Sheets on your practice squad?  I just think Sheets can do so much when you get the ball in his hands that it makes sense to utilize him on the 53-man roster.

On the defensive side of the ball, the pass rush struggled quite a bit, but we saw some good things from the likes of Aubrayo Franklin, Kentwan Balmer and Dre Bly.  None was a lights out performer, but they made plays and looked to be improving upon 2008.  My favorite Balmer play came in the second quarter when he brought down Marion Barber near the end zone and then batted down a pass later in the game.

I was reading over Matt Maiocco's recap of the game and he had a very interesting comment about Tarell Brown:

CB Tarell Brown: He saw his first action of the exhibition season, and he looked really, really good. Don't be surprised if he ends up winning the starting job over veteran Dre' Bly. At the very least, Brown showed he deserves a big role in the offense defense this season. Not only was he strong in coverage, he showed good awareness in the run game.

At this point, the worst case scenario would see Tarell Brown as the #3 cornerback.  I honestly thought that since Brown missed so much time he was guaranteed to start the season coming off the bench.  However, that might not be the case at this point.  I wasn't able to notice a ton about Tarell Brown in the game, aside from some very positive comments from the CBS announcers (not exactly a stellar crew).  Did folks see enough from Brown yesterday to deem him worthy of starting?  Would it require a continued solid effort at San Diego next weekend?

One last question I have, that I definitely plan to address later this week: What's up with Jason Hill?  He's had his moments, but it seems like he's been passed on the depth chart by Arnaz Battle.  At this point, when the 49ers roll out 3 receivers against the Cardinals on September 13, will we see Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan and Arnaz Battle?  Arnaz Battle may not inspire folks, but he just will not go away.  If Arnaz Battle can stay healthy, he may put up some solid numbers in this conservative offense.  I will say though, upon further review, Hill ran a fantastic route and probably could have caught the ball that Courtney Brown interfered with on the final 49ers drive of the game.  So, congrats on that I suppose.

And finally, the quote of the game comes from Patrick Willis on his Cowboys fandom:

They're just the Cowboys now.  They're still my team but I'm loyal to the 49ers now.  That's my heart now.

We'll have plenty more on this game.  Once again the 49ers finished things off in a fun way.  It may only be preseason, but they're certainly keeping us entertained at times.

San Francisco 49ers QB Shaun Hill
In-Game Quotes – August 29, 2009
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys

On his thoughts on the first half:

"I would have liked for it to have gone a bit smoother than it did. I don’t know. You can’t tell a whole lot right now. I just wish we could have put a few more points on the board."

On what he thought went bad and good on the field:
"For the most part I was seeing things fairly decent out there. So that was good, but like I said, I just wish we could have put more points on the board."

On what he thinks they need to do to finish drives:
"Yes, there’s just certain plays out there that we need to make, but we didn’t. They were stopping those drives. Obviously, we have a lot of work yet to be done."

On whether he was on the same page as his receivers tonight:
"Yeah for the most part. There were several plays there that we’ll go back and learn from."

On whether he had any issues with his back:
"No, it felt pretty good."

 

San Francisco 49ers LB Patrick Willis
In-Game Quotes – August 29, 2009
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys


On how he felt after his first action of the preseason:
"Man, I felt like I was a rookie all over again."

On what he was seeing on the field:
"Everything was moving 100 miles per hour. It was crazy. Whoever said that not playing in the preseason doesn’t affect them, that’s not true at all, unless they’ve been doing it for years. For me, I still feel like I need to play in the preseason. I’m glad I was able to play this preseason."

On how it felt to hit somebody again:
"It felt good, but it felt awkward.  It was a good game for me to come back. I don’t think too many teams are as big as those guys are, but they’re a good group of guys. We just have to continue to work hard. A lot of guys are pretty tired,but it’s part of preseason."

On getting the rust off going into the season:
"I think so. I had my fair share of mental mess ups and it was not where I wanted it to be at all by any point. It’s a game that I can learn from and I can see what I need to get better at."

On what the defense did as a unit:
"As a unit, we showed some frustration at some times.  We didn’t play well at all, but even so, the score was only 3-10.  We can win a lot of football games by keeping our opponents to 10 points, but we still have the rest of the game to play."

On the importance of causing turnovers:
"They are really big for us. Any good defense over the years, history says that defense wins championships. Getting turnovers also helps create more opportunities for our offense to score and we can even convert some turnovers into points. It’s great forcing turnovers."

San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore
In-Game Quotes – August 29, 2009
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys

On how he felt after his first extended action of the preseason:
"I felt great. I felt fast. I felt strong. Even though I wanted to do more, I felt really good in the game. I was happy to be out there, especially against the Cowboys who are supposed to be a top-tier team. Our offensive line did a great job in the little bit of time I worked. I’m just happy."

On where the team can improve going into the regular season:
"On some of the runs, we made a few mistakes, but we’ll watch the film and we’ll correct that. And when we correct it, it’s going to be crazy."

On how he liked catching passes out of the backfield:
"I loved that. I love doing whatever, if it has something to do with football. I love it."

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