The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their preseason schedule with a big win, defeating the Houston Texans 40-13. The big story of the game was the huge performances from apparent third string quarterback Josh Johnson, and backup long snapper/tight end Kyle Nelson. The former is slightly more important than the latter. Nelson got extensive tight end time because Vernon Davis did not play, and Derek Carrier got hurt. I suppose Nelson could have a chance at a roster spot given the tight end injuries (Carrier and Celek), but it seems unlikely.
Josh Johnson finished the game 14 of 17 for 135 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. His interception seemed to be a miscommunication more than anything else. On the other hand, Blaine Gabbert struggled to a 4 of 11 performance, finishing with 60 yards and a touchdown. Gabbert had a solid Week 3 performance, but this was a clear regression for him. We've seen big second half preseason performances in the past, so it's hard to come away with any solid conclusions. Has Johnson made this into a battle, or will it end up as preseason fluff?
The 49ers benched almost all their starters for this game. On defense, Ian Williams was the only starter in the game. On offense, Vance McDonald, Daniel Kilgore, and Joe Looney were in the starting lineup. Other than that, it was all about the backups. And they got to show their stuff. I was particularly pleased with the reserve cornerbacks. Darryl Morris and Dontae Johnson in particular had some notable plays. Chris Borland rolled up a pick-six, and generally had himself a solid game.
However, the most important thing to come from the game? No starters were hurt.