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August 27, 2011
As ugly as New Orleans? 49ers down 24-7 at half

Frank Gore was in uniform for Saturday's game against the Texans, but it was understudy Anthony Dixon who started the game at tailback. Gore was on the sideline in a parka when the 49ers first-team offense took the field, which was probably a good choice in a terrible half for the 49ers offense and defense. The Texans had 260 yards of offense and 18 first downs at the half. The 49ers had 50 yards and three first downs.

Gore is pressing the team for a contract extension and earlier this month expressed surprise that he had played in the preseason opener against New Orleans. Gore has seldom played in the preseason in recent years. This year, he's especially wary about being injured before a contract deal is struck. Those negotiations have stalled recently, and Gore's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is scheduled to arrive in Santa Clara in an effort spark a deal.

Meanwhile, Adam Snyder started the third-straight game at center, but Jonathan Goodwin replaced him for the second series and third series. Moran Norris started the game at fullback but both he and rookie Bruce Miller played throughout the half.

Texans quarterback Matt Schaub got off to a rough start. Hoping for a screen pass to running back Arian Foster on the first play of the game, Schaub instead threw it to 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks who ran into the end zone for a 13-yard score. That turned out to be the 49ers' lone highlight of the half.

Schaub had little trouble after his first attempt. He finished the half with 170 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers' second-team defense (Isaac Sopoaga and Carlos Rogers were the only starters) entered the game early in the second quarter. The Texans ended that drive with a Schaub-to-Owens Daniels touchdown.

The 49ers offense, by contrast, only could muster 32 yards through the air. Starter Alex Smith was sacked twice, both due to lapses on the left side of the offensive line. Left tackle Joe Staley was overpowered by Connor Barwin on one sack; on the other there appeared to be miscommunication between Staley and guard Mike Iupati, resulting in an Antonio Smith sack. He also was hit twice as he threw, the last resulting in an interception and a flood of boos from the stands.

As promised by coach Jim Harbaugh, rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick entered the game behind the first-team offensive line and played against the Texans' first-team offense. He connected on a nice 15-yarder to Delanie Walker for a first down. But he also locked in on Braylon Edwards later in the drive and his pass was intercepted by Texans free safety Troy Nolan, who returned it 73 yards for a touchdown.

After 49ers second-string safety Madieu Williams forced a fumble and the 49ers recovered, Alex Smith re-entered the game with 3:17 left in the half. That series, however, went three and out when the 49ers were stuffed on third and short. The Texans also fumbled on their next drive when Larry Grant forced the ball from a Texans tight end. The 49ers took over at the Houston 47 with 29 seconds left but Smith gave the ball right back with an interception.

-- Matt 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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