Here we are at the cusp of another San Francisco 49ers football season. The preseason was a mish-mash of success and failure. The 49ers played badly against good teams (NO and Hou) and fared much better against lesser teams (Oaktown and San Diego). The better teams dominated both sides of the line, while the lesser teams were pushed around by our lines. Good, bad, or indifferent, this trend looks to be followed during the season. better teams (Pittsburgh, Balt) should beat the Niners with relative ease, but they should be able to beat the lesser teams like Cleveland and Cincinnati. Division foes for the most part fall into the lesser category. There are teams that they may be able to beat, but aren’t top tier teams. Detroit and TB fall into that category.
The fact that the Niners were able to put forth a decent offensive effort this preseason has to speak to the coaching staff at least somewhat. The run game was solid, and the run blocking was there for the most part. Hunter was flat great in his reps out there. Gore got a few good runs in. Dixon was likely passed by Hunter, except in goal line situations. Norriss is stil on the team for some unknown reason. He did catch the only ball thrown to him. The passing game was a mixed bag. Mainly due to the all-out blitzing of NO in the 1st preseason game, and the horrible blocking in the Hou game. Against the Raiders and SD, the passing game was decent enough.
The newly aggressive defense inder Vic Fangio looked good at times and looked bad at times. Again, this was more the opponenets they were facing. Even still, number 1 pick Aldon Smith looked like the real deal as a situational pass rusher. Fangio said that A Smith wouldn’t start, but would be in the rotation. This is a very good move on his part. There’s no reason to expose hin in pass coverage this early in his career. 3rd and long, 2nd and long. These are the situations to put him on. The D backs even made some picks this preseason. More than in recent history.
Again, though, all this is taken with a grain of salt as SD didn’t start 14 of their 1st stringers (including Philip Rivers), and preseason is preseason. I don’t think they are as bad as NO adn Hou made them look, but not as good as they looked vs the Raiders or SD’s scrubs. Still and all, this looks like a team that is at least moving in the right direction. Will the personnel losses and shortened preseason overwhelm the strides the team has made? Can Jim Harbaugh save Alex Smith? Is the line going to settle in and pass protect? Can the defense stop teams on 3rd down? Time will tell. This team likely faces a lot of growing pains as it makes its way through the season.