The 49ers left Houston this past weekend after taking a bit of a shot on the chin in their second preseason game. The 49ers had a mixed bag of performances, with several players struggling to build on last week's win over the Vikings. I thought I'd continue with a weekly post looking at the performance of the 49ers newcomers. The 49ers made several additions this offseason in hopes of energizing the offense and adding depth to the defense.
We are only halfway through the preseason schedule, but some of the newcomers on the roster are beginning to make their mark. Others have their work cut out for them this next week against the Broncos. Position battles have not been won or lost at this point, so there is still time for swings in performance.
There are some potential nominees for strongest performance by a new-comer, but for now I'm thinking I'll go with Eric Bakhtiari. The 49ers outside linebacker got the start due to injuries to Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith. Bakhtiari played almost the entire game, leading the team in tackles and building on his strong performance against the Vikings. The 49ers signed Bakhtiari after he spent parts of 2010 and 2011 on the Chiefs practice squad. You could argue that nobody has done more than Bakhtiari to boost their stock in training camp and the preseason.
Josh Johnson also put together a solid performance that could have been borderline fantastic if not for an overthrow to A.J. Jenkins. JJ flashed his arm strength and put together a solid 4-of-6 for 64 yards. He was not going to win the No. 3 QB job on Saturday, but he certainly could have lost it. The battle continues with Scott Tolzien.
Speaking of A.J. Jenkins, the 49ers first round pick flashed a serious skill-set this weekend. He showed the ability to get separation and also how to use the field to his complete advantage in making that 32-yard catch. In week one he had some great catches, but also had some tough drops, so it was nice to see him bounce back with a solid day.
Randy Moss had himself a day as well, catching three passes for 24 yards. He could have doubled the receiving yards, but he dropped a pass from Colin Kaepernick. Moss went up for it and just didn't haul it in. Even without that catch, it seems apparent that he still inspires some fear in defensive backs. After blowing past Johnathan Joseph early, Moss was granted a bit more cushion later. That's what the 49ers need this season.
Mario Manningham was targeted once on a pass that should have been intercepted, but also should have resulted in a pass interference or illegal contact call. I would imagine we will see a bit more of Manningham this coming Sunday against Denver.
As we've discussed plenty this weekend, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James went down with leg injuries. Both seem to be well on their way to recovering, but the losses sting for now. Both were showing they would be able to make strong contributions to the offense. Jacobs in particular has been quite solid in his game-plus of action. He could be quite the force on third and short.
Speaking of the running game, Rock Cartwright got half the carries he had last week, with four rushes for four yards. He also was targeted once in the passing game but did not get the catch. Cartwright is likely in line for more carries next week against the Broncos with Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James both potentially in line to miss the game. Rock and Anthony Dixon get to continue battling it out for carries.
Trenton Robinson had a bit of an adventurous day in the secondary. He and Tramaine Brock got caught up trying to cover Andre Johnson and came up on the short end of the stick. Johnson hauled in a 43-yard reception in part because he played the under-throw just right.
Perrish Cox did not make the trip due to a hamstring injury. He will potentially make his return next week against the team that drafted him in the Denver Broncos.