Week 3 of the 2013 NFL preseason is a wrap, and the 49ers improved to 2-1 with a 34-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. It was not pretty at times, but there were plenty of highlights to keep us entertained. We'll take a look at some highlights, and then run down some winners and losers on the 49ers roster.
Although this was only a preseason game, we saw a lot of good things in the first half on both sides of the ball. The game got off to an inauspicious start for the offense, as Colin Kaepernick struggled to connect with his receivers. Through two drives he was 1 for 5 with four yards. Jim Harbaugh sent him back out for a third series, and Kap made it count. After two incompletions to start the drive, Kap completed his next six passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. He connected twice each with Vernon Davis, Marlon Moore and Quinton Patton, capping the drive with a five yard touchdown pass to Patton.
The big takeaway was that the 49ers did not use much if any read option on the series. Kap showed pocket presence, he did great work scrambling, and he threw well on the run. Those six completions showed us why this team is so much more than read option.
The 49ers first string defense did great work, and I would say they look like they are on a bit of a mission to make up for their late season struggles last year. Justin Smith made his return to the field, and looked like he was trying to throw Toby Gerhart out of the stadium on one run. The first string secondary looked solid, the pass rush got to Christian Ponder. Of course, Ponder seemed confused much of the time in the pocket, so we'll take what we can from it.
My favorite defensive highlight might have been the back-to-back coverage plays by Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks on the Vikings second drive. On one play, Smith dropped into coverage as Ponder dumped it off to John Carlson. Smith quickly converged on Carlson and stopped him for a two-yard gain. On the next play, Ahmad Brooks dropped into coverage and prevented Greg Jennings from catching a Ponder pass. Linebacker coverage isn't quite as slick as that of cornerbacks, but there's something gritty about it.
As for the backups? Well, Colt McCoy got a whole lot of work, as the 49ers seemed intent on showcasing him. He finished 11 of 15 for 109 yards and one interception. He had his moments, including a touchdown drive on his last series, but he also struggled with inconsistency. Is it enough to keep him around or secure a trade? Who really knows.
We'll be back with plenty more, but here's a quick rundown of some winners and losers from tonight:
Quinton Patton - DAMN
Jewel Hampton - Still likely practice squad bound, but looked real sharp in his second preseason game
B.J. Daniels - Still looking sharp. He might have locked up a roster spot tonight.
Lavelle Hawkins - Big kickoff return for a touchdown, and a 22-yard catch. He did not get any additional returns, but that could hold off the Turk this Tuesday.
Lavelle Hawkins - Three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Wow. Maybe the Turk will in fact make his appearance.
Cam Johnson - The 49ers linebacker suffered a shoulder injury. There is no word on his status.
Perrish Cox - He's not losing his roster spot, but he had a down night after two strong performances the first two weeks
Other (also know as the 49ers other back-up QB options)
Colt McCoy - He struggled a lot at times, but he finished strong. Is it enough to keep his job, or was it enough to ship him to another team? I honestly have no idea
Seneca Wallace/Scott Tolzien - Tolzien didn't play, and Wallace made his debut with 1:06 left in the game. What's going on, exactly?