Things didn't look wonderful at the start of the game for the 49ers; Tedd Ginn had a poor opening kickoff return, followed by a Michael Robinson fumble on San Francisco's first play from scrimmage. Indianapolis jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead, but David Carr and his helmet from the future would have the last laugh. San Francisco first units did not look impressive, and rookies Anthony Davis and Taylor Mays obviously need the remainder of the preseason to improve. While the first team defensive unit had a typically strong stand in the red zone early on, Peyton Manning had zero struggles on the afternoon.
Once Peyton Manning left the game, the San Francisco 49ers saw their fortune change scoring 20 straight points to lead the Colts 20-10 at the end of the first half. The 49ers first team offense was on the field for most of the first quarter, but couldn't get anything going against the Indianapolis starters. Quarterback Alex Smith completed just 3 passes in 9 attempts with an interception, struggling to find open receivers including a wide open Vernon Davis during the team's third offensive series. The 49ers first team defense didn't have an answer to Indianapolis' first unit, and sloppy tackling early on didn't help. Manning, completing passes at will, looked to be in midseason form connecting on 8 passes in 10 attempts for 91 yards, leading the Colts on two scoring drives before exiting the contest.
Enter second year quarterback Curtis Painter, and the 49ers scoring frenzy began. During Painter's first offensive series, the 49ers defense looked strong, forcing a three-and-out. Ted Ginn made up for a poor opening kick-off by returing a punt 11-yards to begin San Francisco's drive in decent field position. Three plays later, Alex Smith's pass was tipped and picked off by Colts DB Jerraud Powers returning it 53 yards to the San Francisco 32 yard line. Painter completed a nice 20 yard pass to Blair White sandwiched in between 1 yard losses on run attempts by Donald Brown. On second and 11, an errant Painter pass was tipped up in the air and intercepted by Reggie Smith and returned 91 yards for San Francisco's first touchdown of the game. The Colts failed to answer on the following possession as the 49ers held Indianpolis to a quick three and out. Rookie return man Kyle Williams escaped for a 36 yard punt return, setting up San Francisco's second score of the afternoon.
Beginning at the Indy 43 yard line following Williams impressive return, San Francisco gave the Colts a heavy dose of rookie tailback Anthony Dixon who totaled 24 yards (16 rushing) on 5 touches which was just a sign of things to come from Dixon. Michael Robinson capped of the drive with a 3 yard TD dive, as Dixon looked winded for much of the series and subbed himself out of the game. On the Colts following drive, Painter was again picked off, this time by Diyral Briggs who fumbled the ball back to Indianapolis after a 13 yard return. The 49ers defense responded by holding the Colts short of the first after three downs, but it was a fumble by Curtis Painter on 4th and short that gave the ball right back to San Francisco. Dixon produced 29 yards on two carries, and despite three sacks on David Carr, the 49ers managed to score on a 37 yard field goal courtesy of Shane Andrus' leg. Painter again threw an interception on Indianapolis' following drive and it was Will James' turn to play thief. Another Andrus FG completed the 49ers march of 20 straight unanswered points, with San Francisco ahead 20-10 after one half of football. After the jump, the rest of the recap, and some notable performances...
To beging the second half, both Painter and Carr led their offenses to quick three and outs as both offenses didn't complete a pass. After both teams exchanged punts, Indianapolis began what appeared to be a promising drive as the Colts started clicking for a few plays under Painter's signal calling. The Colts drive haulted just as quickly as it began, and the 49ers reserves held strong once again (either that or Painter is just that bad). San Francisco began its next drive on its own18 yard line, marching 82 yards in 10 plays with David Carr's TD pass to Tony Curtis putting the 49ers up 27-10. Dixon continued his strong performance by contributing 29 total yards to the drive. Carr and his super sleek futuristic helmet completed 5 passes for 64 yards, including the capper to Curtis. When the Colts got the ball back, Tom Brandstater took over and things didn't improve much for Indianapolis.
Brandstater started his first series strong completing his first 3 passes and marching the Colts to three first downs into 49ers territory. However, the 49ers reserve would not be satisified without an interception and undrafted rookie Mike Balogun picked off Brandstater for 17 yards. The 49ers substituted Nate Davis into the lineup, and all he did was complete 2 passes for 40 yards to rookie Nate Bynum getting the 49ers in a goal-to-go situation. Two plays and nine rushing yards from Dixon later, the 49ers were back in the end zone, completing a run of 34 unanswered points. The unanswered frenzy ended there for the 49ers after Bobby Guillory fumbled on a punt return and a 36 yard pass interference call put the Colts right on the doorstep. Brandstater finished off the drive with a 3 yard TD pass to Jacob Tamme.
On the 49ers next possession, Nate Davis again led the 49ers on a scoring drive, capped off by another field goal from Andrus, this time from 44 yards. Davis completed 3 passes for 44 yards and also recovered his own fumble after a sack. Anthony Dixon added another 17 yards rushing to the scoring drive, and the 49ers went up 37-17 all but nailing the Colts' coffin closed. San Francisco's reserve defenders just wouldn't let Brandstater and the Colts muster much and Indianapolis again had to punt. Dixon was not done for the day, yet, as he picked up an important first down that allowed the 49ers line up in the victory formation to end the contest. Dixon's 13 yards rushing helped milk the clock and an 8 yard scamper on 3 and 7 sealed the deal. 49ers 37 Colts 17.
Notable Niner Performances:
Anthony Dixon - While the performance from Dixon may not be a guaranteed sign of things to come in 2010, it certainly helps ease the burden of Glenn Coffee's retirement. Dixon looked absolutely winded on his first series, but bounced back nicely and finished out the game strong. His totals: 100 rushing yards on 21 attempts and 1 TD, 3 receptions for 22 yards. Impressive.
Anthony Davis - The rookie RT looked lost at times during his action, and Jamie Dukes broke it down nicely at the half: Davis needs to extend better and use his hands to push off defenders. Davis was getting beat off the edge and clearly needs to work on his pass protection skills. Considering the rest of the first team's struggles, Davis' performance could have been a lot worse.
Kyle Williams - Speed, quickness, return game. This kid has it, and he displayed a nice burst on his first kick return, and crafty speed during his 36 yard punt return. It's only been one game, but I think it's obvious there's a roster spot for Williams on the 49ers.
David Carr - Hey man, this guy's helmet deserves mentioning for a third time, and Carr's performance on the field was efficient. The backup led the team to 5 scoring drives, including a touchdown pass on 9 of 11 attempts for 98 yards. Alex Smith should improve, but at least David Carr is showing signs of being a quality reserve.
Taylor Mays - Mays was getting abused in pass coverage early on thanks to Peyton Manning. It appears that rookie from USC has a ways to go still from cracking the starting lineup, but his speed definitely will assist him in that task. He made a few good plays, but had at least two blown coverages.
Reggie Smith - Is it me, or did Reggie Smith shine in last season's preseason too? Smith had nice coverage early in the game, forcing the Colts to a field goal and also scored the 49ers first TD of the preseason. Things are looking promising from Smith, let's hope he can remain healthy and contribute during the season when he's called upon.
Diyral Briggs - I think we can all admit that Briggs chances of making the roster increased even more with his performance today. He missed one tackle, but made up for it on the very next play and even though his interception was negated by his fumble, his presence was still noteworthy. He just needs to fall on the ground after an INT next time.