49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 28, 2010
Staley, Westbrook nicked in 49ers win; Crabtree still ailing

Not that it matters, but the 49ers are now 3-0 in the preseason after eking out a 28-24 win in Oakland. Alex Smith and the first-team offense took a 17-14 lead into halftime (give a big assist to the special teams), but it was backup David Carr and the second-team offense that pulled out the win. Down 24-20, Carr led an 80-yard, 16-play drive that ended when rookie Anthony Dixon snuck into the end zone from a yard away. Carr connected with another rookie, Nate Byham, for the two-point conversion with 1:44 left. Nate Davis did not play and afterward Mike Singletary affirmed that Carr was the No. 2 QB. Here are some notes from the game:

First, the injuries. Joe Staley left the game early with a right knee sprain. It's the same knee that cost Staley the second half of the 2009 season. However, he was standing throughout the game and at one point seemed ready to join a scrum on the other side of the field. In other words, it did not appear serious and that was confirmed by Singletary. Barry Sims filled in and played well. That's a good indication Sims is ahead of Alex Boone on the depth chart.

The other injury was to running back Brian Westbrook, who, according to Singletary "tweaked" his hamstring. A team spokesman called it a hamstring cramp. Westbrook had two carries in his 49ers debut. The first went outside for no gain. The second, on third and 6, went up the middle for 17 yards. Receiver Michael Crabtree did not play despite practicing three days in the lead up to the game. Singletary said that Crabtree's neck was stiff during warm ups and that Singletary decided to hold him out of the game. Crabtree first injured the neck on Aug. 11.

Once again, the 49ers had trouble with the play clock. Singletary said it was moving too fast in the first half, and the officials made adjustments in the second. Alex Smith called it a "quick clock" and said there was routinely less than 20 seconds when the 49ers broke the huddle. "I think it hurt us," he said. "It really broke our rhythm." Still, Smith and the 49ers were able to overcome the play clock and two penalties on a 10-play, 60-yard touchdown drive at the end of the second quarter. There were 18 penalties in the game - 10 against the 49ers.

With the exception of Patrick Willis - a team-high eight tackles, three of them for a loss, a sack and a QB hurry - the defense took a step back. San Francisco's safeties faltered at key moments. At the end of the first half, Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski found receiver Louis Murphy for a 74-yard touchdown late in the first half after Murphy got past safety Reggie Smith. "It was a mental bust that shouldn't have happened," Smith said. In the second half, Oakland gained 17 yards on third and 15. Gradkowski later hit tight end Zach Miller in front of safety Michael Lewis for a 27-yard score. To his credit, Smith had a nice defensive play against Todd Watkins on the Raiders' last-second heave at the end of the game.

Frank Gore showed he doesn't need a lot of preseason playing time. Gore saw his first carries of the exhibition in the first quarter. On the 49ers fourth offensive play, he burst through the middle of the offensive line - he followed Mike Iupati's block -- pin-balled off a Raiders opponent and gained 49 yards before he was forced out of bounds. He gained nine yards to the Raiders 11 yard line on the next play and should have had a touchdown on the play after that. Gore, however, took his eyes off of Smith's pitch out and nearly fumbled it away. "I was looking up the field because I saw a touchdown and the ball slipped," said Gore.

Phillip Adams and Travis LaBoy continue to make huge pushes to make the 53-man roster. Adams had three punt returns for 116 yards, including an 83 yarder up the middle for a touchdown. Not bad for a guy who only had a few returns as a senior in college. LaBoy, meanwhile, knocked Raiders starting quarterback Jason Campbell out of the game with a blind-side sack. Another rookie, Kevin Jurovich, returned a kickoff 48 yards. ... Receiver Dominique Zeigler obviously has the trust of his quarterbacks; Jason hill does not. Zeigler was targeted 10 times; Hill was not targeted at all.

Rookie Jarrett Brown finally got into a preseason game, but not as a quarterback. The 49ers put Brown in on the kick-coverage unit. What did he do? He registered his first tackle since playing linebacker in Peewee League when he tripped up fellow rookie Jacoby Ford. Ford was the fastest player in the February scouting combine. He also happens to be a neighbor of Brown's in West Palm Beach, Fla. That ought to give Brown bragging rights for a while ...

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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