When the Saints almost got themselves six points on the very first drive, we knew we were in for a rough day. That's six points on San Francisco's first drive, by the way. Fortunately, the "fumble" was ruled an imcompletion, and the 49ers were free to go three-and-out ten times in a row on their own. Low pass here, terrible offensive line play there, and that's what you end up with. Alex Smith hardly had any time to throw with the bad offensive line play. Joe Staley and Vernon Davis both whiffed badly on the opening drive.
Smith made a couple bad throws, low to Davis, and one behind Braylon Edwards. Those are on him, and they're the things that don't inspire much confidence. The commentary crew called a severely overthrown pass to Delanie Walker "the wrong route" by way of Walker, but who knows at this point? Smith ended up finishing 2-for-7 and ten yards, and had some quotes during the game:
"At this point, offensively, you know struggled, obviously didn't get anything going early on. There was some miscommunication, missed balls on passes. It just wasn't good. I didn't feel that great about it. Obviously, it's the first preseason game. A lot of us have only had five or six practices under our belt, 12 for some of the guys that have been here all of camp. We have to learn from this. We have to get better. We knew it was going to be tough, potentially it was going to be a little sloppy, but some things have to get fixed and we will. That's what these games are for."
It's an apt point from Smith ... this is the very first preseason game and these players have practiced for only a few days, there's bound to be a lot to work through. Unfortunately, offensive linemen are usually pretty solid with a short amount of time to learn, so the fact that they were abused is a cause for concern. The Saints defense were throwing a lot of blitzes San Francisco's way, which is something that nobody really expected.
The good thing is that the 49ers starting defense did stop Drew Brees and the starting Saints offense. Donte Whitner made a couple good plays on defense, which is always good to see. Tramaine Brock was with the starters on defense and played well, save for a blown play early on that would have went for six if only Robert Meachem had held on. Eventually, the Saints would get things going with Chase Daniel at the helm.
A big run from Daniel and a penalty from NaVorro Bowman gave the Saints their first three points. Daniel would eventually get the team down there again and Mark Ingram got himself a 14-yard touchdown run. A punt return for a touchdown, carried in by Joseph Morgan would give the Saints another one.
Colin Kaepernick did come in and play a lot of football, and looked good through most of it. He ran the ball a few times (they were good runs, not jumpy rookie runs), but didn't look as comfortable in the pocket as we'd like. His throwing motion looked a little more compact, and his actual passes were pretty on point ... kind of. He did have three straight incompletions to Ronald Johnson, who was open for two of them. Unfortunately for him, he was also sacked three times in a row.
As the game winded down in the fourth, the Saints added another touchdown, completing pass after pass and eventually running it in with Chris Taylor. Kaepernick started to wind down, with two picks in the final quarter and his day will look a lot worse than it was. Sean Canfield came in for the Saints, and probably threw the best pass of the day, hilariously enough. He scrambled outside and was right at the out-of-bands line, when he threw it downfield to Morgan. What a jerk. EIther way, game comes to an end with the 49ers barely avoiding a shutout.
Make the jump for more notes and quotes, and remember site decorum is ON for this thread.
- As stated, Smith had three bad passes that are on him, and no protection whatsoever. That's something that will get better, but to what degree, we don't know. Smith should be better under pressure, but the line should alleviate some of it, and they were either a bunch of revolving doors or a bunch of holograms out there tonight.
- Colin Kaepernick looked alright, as game-ready as we could expect at this point. All things considered, he seemed to pick up a lot in a small period of time. He doesn't look like the be-all, end-all starter, but the 49ers definitely need to see more and more out of him as a passer. Looked good running, but his drop-back wasn't on-point and he overthrew more than once.
- Kaepernick's first interception in the fourth was the very definition of a rookie mistake. Mental error that he needs to get past. The second one was just all-bad, and he should have seen him.
- Kendall Hunter looks better running the football than Anthony Dixon, but that can all change. Hunter's first run was 13-yards, and he showed a lot of burst and quickness. Likewise, Dixon was doing more dancing than running, too shifty, no decisiveness, and an unimpressive burst.
- Nobody on the offensive line had a very good day. It was bad all-around, especially Joe Staley and Adam Snyder. The snaps were ugly and Snyder was pushed back constantly.
- The 49ers had a decent pass rush most of the time, from the outside linebackers and the defensive line. They stopped the run well. The secondary didn't look like they were getting help up front, even though they most definitely were.
- Aldon Smith looked fast and aggressive out there. He rushed the passer well, but they keyed in on him quickly. He got a decent amount of playing time.
- Punt coverage units are really bad. Tackles were missed consistently. Colin Jones and Keaton Kristick both had good chances to make tackles on the punt return touchdown, but they didn't seal the deal.
- CJ Spillman should not play safety. Only special teams.
- Hate that new kickoff rule yet?