The 49ers ended their pre-season with a loss on the road against the Houston Texans. The offense never really got going, and the overall effort felt like what you’d expect from a team playing a meaningless game over a short week. Here are five takeaways I had from the preseason finale.
Lack of discipline
The 49ers were flagged for 11 penalties accepted for a total of 104 yards in that game, repeatedly giving the Texans momentum while stopping their own. Unfortunately, it was a sloppy effort on both sides of the ball, and it felt like every time momentum was built it would be offset by a blatant penalty that should never have happened.
Preseason games don’t count, but that’s no excuse for the 49ers’ neglect in all three phases of the game. In what will be their last game for the next 17 days leading up to week one, ideally, there’s a higher level of execution that makes you feel good heading into the regular season.
There were a handful of missed blocking assignments, a few pass interference penalties resulting in a fresh set of downs, and even a punt that somehow resulted in a touchdown after landing inside the Texans yard line surrounded by 49ers on the cover team, with several players getting their hands on the ball well outside the end zone.
Ultimately, it has no bearing on how the team will play when they hit the field in Chicago in just over two weeks, but the general lack of execution across the board was one way. disheartening to close out what was otherwise an encouraging pre-season.
Offensive Line Struggles
In my pre-game article, I mentioned that the 49ers first-team offensive line struggled to find consistent run blocking during the preseason. Not only did their problems clearing the way for the ground game carry over into this game, but they also struggled to contain a Texans pass rush that generated three sacks and double-digit pressures.
What was more concerning was how they lost at the line of scrimmage while running the ball in short-range situations, especially on fourth down, where they were 0/3 on the night. The 49ers’ running game never found a steady pace, rushing for 51 yards on 24 carries for a meager 2.1 yards per carry.
Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey didn’t take the field in this game, and the addition of two of the best run-blocking tackles in football should alleviate some of the stress currently placed on the offensive line’s ability to execute a blockage.
Pass rush seems strong
The 49ers defensive line racked up three sacks in this game, with all three coming from players who will be on the team and part of the rotation on the front four. Samson Ebukam topped a few reps, picking up where he left off at the end of last season by contributing to a sack in seven of the last eight games to close the season.
Charles Omenihu got a sack in his first game at NRG Stadium since being traded by the Texans last season, and Jordan Willis also netted one. In a game where the 49ers struggled to stop the run, the pass rush was one of the few bright spots in a game where they had serious trouble stopping the run early.
Samuel Womack continues to build on a strong pre-season
Womack contributed another turnover, the third time this playoffs that Womack was the primary reason the 49ers defense recorded a takeaway. Womack managed to play through the ball on a pass intended for Chris Moore in the end zone, flipping the ball in the air for safety Tarvarius Moore to return with the interception.
Womack continued to display an extremely impressive amount of balance and IQ for a rookie, and based on his physical traits, he gives the 49ers a serious advantage as their cornerback advances. As another bonus, Womack lined up on the outside in this game, adding versatility to the ever-growing list of things Womack did to impress early in his NFL career.
Brock Purdy pleaded to be main replacement behind Trey Lance
Purdy was by far the 49ers’ best quarterback in that game, capping off a preseason that saw the final 2022 draft pick make a strong push for the QB2 spot. Purdy appeared calm, cool and collected throughout the action he saw in three preseason games, leaving Kyle Shanahan with a tough decision while finalizing the depth chart at quarterback despite the two million guarantees due to Nate Sudfeld.
Purdy finished the preseason finale with a 13-20 record for 182 yards and a pick, also having as safe a touchdown as he could without recording one on a fly ball dropped by Willie Snead in the end zone.
There have been a few infield throws by Purdy in particular that have stood out, threading the needle to layer the ball on an inferior defender several times over the past two games.
Purdy just has a certain moxie to his game that’s hard to quantify but becomes evident the more you see him play. His ability to always know where to go with the football is something that probably made him extremely endearing to Shanahan, and his services come at a much lower rate than those of Sudfeld and the majority of other reliable quarterbacks out there. could be available in the open. market soon.