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49ers 17 - Raiders 3, Recap: Starters Look Considerably Better

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Starting this recap a bit early so I can get out of the pressbox, but I have stuff to say regarding things that have already happened. For one, it was a pretty entertaining game, even sitting at 3-0 through the first half. The first teams for San Francisco looked strong, both on offense and defense. Offensively, things stalled out in the red zone and Alex Smith had a bad interception, but the red zone offense is one you're not going to reveal a whole lot of in the preseason. They just called basic, simple stuff at this point, which is totally understandable.

The starting defense looked great, with the exception of Tramaine Brock, giving the Raiders are three-and-out on their first possession. NaVorro Bowman had two tackles and a quarterback hit on Jason Campbell on said drive, so it was a good day for him. When Oakland got the ball again, it was ugly, all the way until the red zone and a first and goal on the two-yard line. The starting defense then stopped the Raiders four plays in a row to force a turnover on downs.

So that was nice. The rest of the game was entertaining, with some good stuff from the 49ers running backs and good stuff from their defensive line. Colin Kaepernick looked mostly good. I have a lot of notes to get through, so there will be one or two before the jump an then a few after it. 

  • Alex Smith with a couple questionable plays, but he looked good on the opening drive. The interception to Matt Shaughnessy was particularly bad. Drives stalling in the red zone is no bueno, but again, he did have some great deep passes and showed a lot of pocket presence. That's got to be the most important thing.
  • Kendall Hunter's 53-yard touchdown run was great. The backup running back battle is going to be a good one, as Anthony Dixon also had a good game. I'll have much more expanded thoughts on this tomorrow, but the battle is leaning in Hunter's favor. The only thing swaying it for Dixon is the fact that Dixon did have productive runs against more starters than Hunter has. They both looked good in pass protection.
  • NaVorro Bowman isn't going to be as good as Takeo Spikes in 2011, but his two tackles and a QB hit on third down on the first Oakland drive showed a lot of what we were looking for. I pegged him as being far too raw to be a starter, and he made strides to change that perception tonight.
  • Very aware players on defense include Madieu Williams and Ahmad Brooks, they were active pre-snap and were always around the ball. Honorable mention to Larry Grant in that regard, as well.
  • Tarrel Brown looked a lot better than Tramaine Brock, who was unimpressive. Chris Culliver also had a mostly-bad day, looked like a rookie.  Brown did a lot to solidify his place ahead of Brock, who seemed to always be away from the ball.
  • Dashon Goldson beat twice by Darrius Heyward-Bey. He was out of position on the first play (which Culliver made a bigger mistake on), and simply got beat on the second (faked). A little rusty, Goldson did not play in week one.
  • Josh Morgan remains a receiver who can puzzle number one corners with something nearing regularity, but still somehow unspectacular. 
  • Andy Lee had a fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception before going down and getting hurt. He limped off the field, but didn't sit down for a long time. He started walking normally, but not before holding for a David Akers field goal - he limped out to go do the hold. Akers punted after that.
  • Colin Kaepernick looked a lot more poised this time around, which says a lot, because he was pretty poised in week one. He made some great passes, notably his first one to Kyle Williams, but he did sort of panic with defenders around him. His legs are a weapon, but it seems like he's been taking dancing lessons from Anthony Dixon.