49ers Preseason Game 2: Game In Review

Fooch's Note: This is a very solid FanPost providing one person's thoughts on a whole bunch of issues related to the 49ers-Raiders game. Jim Harbaugh had a conference call in which he discussed a variety of issues related to the game and I thought I'd use this FanPost to link to the conference call.

Last night the 49ers beat the Raiders 17-3 in a game much improved from their last game against the Saints.

I just finished watching the game for the first time and I’ve got some points/questions/remarks I’d like to share with you regarding the game (moved after the jump by Fooch)

Battle of the backup running backs – the battle for the backup spot at running back is underway, but it seems like the finish line is on the horizon, and a winner is starting to form. Both Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter looked good last night, but there was one major difference between them. Kendall Hunter showed the same decisiveness that Frank Gore shows when running into the whole. He read the blocking quickly and immediately exploded into his hole. At times Hunter seemed to glide, not run, because his footwork was so quick and good. Dixon on the other hand, had a severe case of "happy feet", a known problem with Dixon. He seemed to always take a couple of extra steps in the backfield which slowed him down. To Dixon’s defense he did have some good runs, and he showed great vision on a few plays, finding a different hole to go through. All in all, the play was good from both running backs, but Kendall Hunter seems to be slowly separating himself from his competition.

Outstanding offensive line play – The excellent running back play mentioned above could not have been able to succeed without an outstanding night from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd offensive line units. Apart from a few mistakes here and there, the offensive line play was aggressive and looked promising. In the run game a few plays that stand out to me are guard pulls by Chilo Rachal, which were run perfectly, and a couple of great blocks by rookie Daniel Kilgore. Kilgore looks promising and could develop into a very reliable back up at the guard position. In the passing game unlike last week in New Orleans, the O-line held it’s own. A false-start by Anthony Davis stands out to me only since he had one last week as well. All in all Davis played very well, just mentioning it’s the second week in a row with a false start. Davis has to learn not to flinch when rushers come at him. Center play was also good, although there were some plays both for Goodwin and Snyder where they were dominated and pushed back right into the quarterback. Hopefully their play improves. Moving on…

The Smith-Edwards connection – Alex Smith and Braylon Edwards seem to be building a good relationship, and things are starting to jell for them. Alex looked for Braylon a couple of times during the game, and Braylon answered with a beautiful one-handed grab. Braylon could end up being our best FA acquisition, and I’m expecting big things from him, especially when Crabtree returns from injury and takes a little heat off of him.

Colin Kaepernick’s performance – Kaepernick played OK, completing 6/8 passes for 52 yards. One thing that stood out to me and worried me in his play was that he constantly stared down his receiver from the get go. At first I thought this was a one-play thing, but as the game progressed I saw that almost every play Kaepernick looked at the receiver he was going to throw to from snap to release. Not good.

The wide-receiver battle – Kyle Williams stood out again. He made one outstanding leaping grab and also was just a go-to guy. He could really be a weapon out of the slot this year. Ronald Johnson on the other hand, caught no passes and correct me if I’m wrong, but I hardly saw him in the game. After two games Kyle Williams has shined and Ronald "RoJo" Johnson has not. Lance Long seems like the only undrafted rookie FA wide-receiver with a chance to make the roster. The 49ers are loaded at WR though, so it all depends on how many WRs the 49ers will decide to keep on their roster. If Lance Long doesn’t make the cut, look for him to be a prime practice-squad target.

Alex Smith’s play – Alex Smith played very well, in my opinion, completing 8/13 passes for 126 yards with 1 interception. He was quick going through his reads and seemed to always find an open receiver. He could have had much better stats if not for two drops by Josh Morgan and Delanie Walker. His interception though, was such an impressive play. Alex just did not see Matt Shaughnessy going into his zone and Alex threw the pass. Apart from that play, I was very impressed by Alex’s play, and to be honest, I’m really excited for him this year. Another play that impressed me was during a 2nd and 11 in the 2nd quarter. The pocket was breaking down around Alex and he went through his progression while under pressure and found Joshua Morgan for a short gain.

Other offensive standouts – Undrafted rookie Konrad Reuland out of Stanford performed extremely well, catching two passes for 28 yards. He also blocked well. Seems like he could be a very good replacement for Nate Byham, who was lost for the season due to a training camp knee injury. Bruce Miller also stood out. He blocked very well at fullback, even noticing a free linebacker on one play even though it was not his assignment and blocking him, which led to a nice run by Xavier Omon. He also caught a pass for 9 yards, showing his athleticism, a skill that Moran Norris clearly does not have.

The red-zone offense – Yes I know, it wasn’t very impressive with mostly running plays, but don’t worry 49ers fans, I’m sure that Jim Harbaugh just did not want to tip his hat as to what he will do there during the regular season. I’m convinced Harbaugh has lots of bootlegs and fades for Braylon Edwards waiting to be unleashed once the 49ers reach the red-zone during the regular season.

Aldon Smith continues to impress – Aldon Smith had another strong outing. He might not have a had a sack, but Smith seemed to be bringing the pressure at all times, always reaching the Raider’s QB a millisecond before he releases the football. He also had 2 tackles to his credit. If he keeps playing like this he will replace Parys Haralson in no time.

Ricky Jean-Francouis also stands out – Peanut Butter Jelly man also played extremely well. He got good penetration on a couple of plays, most notably on a 3rd and goal play in the 2nd quarter for the Raiders.

Demarcus Dobbs plays well again – Dobbs once again impressed during the game. He was credited with 2 tackles and 1 sack, and he seems to be the front runner between the undrafted rookie D-linemen to get a spot on the roster.

Larry Grant impressive – Larry Grant also played very well, the most memorable play being him reading the play and getting into the backfield easily, stopping the runner for a loss. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make the roster and be extremely surprised if he isn’t the #3 ILB behind Willis and Bowman.

Bowman also impressive – I haven’t got much to say, only that Bowman was very impressive. Willis and Bowman could end up being a great tandem.

2 Interceptions for the secondary – Tarrell Brown and Madieu Williams both grabbed interceptions, Williams’ INT was especially impressive. They both have strengthened their case for depth chart spots.

Chris Culliver plays well – Culliver played pretty well, in my opinion. He did give up a big gain to Darius Heyward-Bey, but Culliver’s coverage on Heyward-Bey was great, it’s just that Heyward-Bey made a great catch.

Philip Adams’ recovery – Philip Adams seems to be recovering well. He returned his first punt of the preseason last night, returning it for a very nice gain. If you recall he ran a punt back for a touchdown last year against the Raiders. I’m happy to hear he is recovering swiftly and hopefully he gets more looks at cornerback, because I think he is a much better option than Tremaine Brock.

Special-Teams a reason to be concerned? – Just saying. Last week we had a punt returned for a touchdown, this week we have a bocthed FG hold that resulted in our Pro-bowl punter getting smashed and we have a blocked punt, which occurred after a Raider came in completely unblocked and the 49ers were penalized for an illegal formation – 6 men on the line of scrimmage. I'm not saying this will ruin our season, but I'll be looking for improvement on special teams next week.

That’s it for me. Let me know what you thought about my points/let me know about your points, and I’ll post my things to watch for the 49ers next preseason game against the Texans later this week.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.