49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 12, 2011
First half: Big Lousy in the Big Easy

Well, at least the kicker is good. David Akers kicked a 59-yard field goal at the end of the first half in New Orleans, one of the few offensive highlights in a brutal first half for the 49ers. The Saints lead 17-3, and it's very clear that the 49ers offense needs more time -- a lot more time -- to jell.

San Francisco's starting offensive line looked particularly bad. Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams brought an array of blitzes - unusual for the preseason - and the 49ers were ill-equipped to handle them. They allowed six sacks in the opening half, including three big hits on starter Alex Smith. He finished 2-7 for 10 yards before giving way to Colin Kaepernick. Smith's lone highlight - a 12-yard slant pass to Braylon Edwards, but that came against the Saints' second-team defense.

Starting linemen Joe Staley, Chilo Rachal and Anthony Davis were beaten for sacks or quarterback hits. What's more distressing is that the first-team offensive line played in front of Kaepernick deep into the second quarter but were only marginally better against the New Orleans' backup defense. Kaepernick had a nice 20-yard dart to Lance Long and looked impressive on a 28-yard run. But he's also been slow getting the play called in the huddle and the 49ers had to burn a couple of timeouts because of it.

The good news is that the defense looked solid against Drew Brees and the Saints first-team offense. (That may be a theme this preseason given how little offenses have practiced in the offseason). Cornerback Tramaine Brock allowed receiver Robert Meachem to get past him (the play was incomplete) and safety Madieu Williams mis-timed a leap on a would-be interception.

Otherwise, the defense was solid with outside linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith standing out. Smith did not start the game but he entered in the first quarter and looked good rushing the passer and in the run game.

-- 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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