NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 12: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers looks on as his team plays the New Orleans Saints during a preseason game at Louisiana Superdome on August 12, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
We've already went over it: yesterday's game was a less-than stellar affair, to say the least. Jim Harbaugh's coaching debut didn't quite go the way he had hoped it would, but it wasn't a total loss. What was immediately clear, though, was that twelve days of practice and installation was not nearly enough for any of the three new coordinators. Brad Seely, Vic Fangio and Greg Roman all showed a little bit and all got a giant slap in the face from Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints.
The strongest performers on the day had to be the starting defense. Fangio had thee guys ready to play and they did a good job against the Saints starting offense. There was pressure up front from the defensive line and the linebackers, and the secondary played well, aside from a blown coverage courtesy of Tramaine Brock. Donte Whitner played with hustle early and basically, they looked like a competent bunch.
But there still wasn't enough pressure, and there were a few instances of mis-communication. For the most part, one has to feel that these mistakes were player-made, from backups and third stringers. To me, that says Fangio had his guys the most ready, though he did keep it very basic.
Greg Roman had the toughest time. His offensive line was abused and his quarterbacks left a whole lot to be desired. The wide receivers as a whole actually looked pretty good, the routes were crisp and if you could avert your eyes from the trainwreck-esque happening at the line of scrimmage (read as: the pride-obliterating beatdown administered by the Saints to the 49ers quarterbacks), you'd have seen some good quickness from guys like Kyle Williams and Ronald Johnson.
Smith had a poor showing, Kaepernick was very raw and neither had a great chance to do anything. One thing Roman did do well was get Kaepernick as ready as he was - that's not something I really had expected. He might have the highest ceiling of any rookie quarterback this year, but he was one of the most raw. There were struggles with his dropback and his accuracy, but he did make things interesting, at the very least. Needless to say, Roman (and Harbaugh, who works closely with the offense) will have the most work cut out for him.
Something overlooked thus far is the special teams play. Aside from the awesomeness that is David Akers and his 59-yard field goal, not to mention Andy Lee being ... Andy Lee, the special teams units were less than stellar. On one hand, everybody is adjusting to the new kickoff rule, but on the other, some things need to be made clear. Maybe Kendall Hunter was told to take the kickoffs out because it's the preseason, but it was clear they were going nowhere, and he did it anyway.
But the rest of the special teams wasn't great either. The blocking wasn't there, especially on punt returns. Kyle Williams and Ronald Johnson were all alone (and actually looked decent, despite the poor blocking) out there. Then there's the small matter of the punt coverage units. Colin Jones missed a huge tackle on Joseph Morgan, and then Keaton Kristick, and another linebacker took terrible angles to get to make the tackle. Jones was supposed to be someone that could do this already, according to the coaching staff, and he missed multiple tackles on special teams.
Everybody has work to do. About the only complete players on this team right now are David Akers, Andy Lee, Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and Justin Smith. Everything else is up in the air, and the coaches have to bring it down.