It's a good thing Alex Smith wore his mouthpiece Saturday. It wasn't as bad as his mouthpiece-less outing in New Orleans last year, but Smith took several big shots against the Texans, all of them in the opening quarter. Last year, all-out blitzes by the Saints flummoxed a still-jelling offensive line. Today, the line mostly, but not always, was sound. Smith, and the play calls, accounted for most of the hits.
Hit 1: 1st & 10 at SF 24. Smith rolls to his right before hitting Michael Crabtree on a short pass. Right tackle Anthony Davis blocks Connor Barwin, who had 11 1/2 sacks last year, but Barwin runs through it and crashes into Smith as the quarterback released the pass. Barwin pancakes Smith and drives his own weight on top of the quarterback..
Hit 2: 1st & 10 at SF 42. Smith drops back against a four-man rush by the Texans. He finds no one open to his left, then starts to take off to his right where he runs into Barwin. Davis seemed to be doing ok against Barwin, and Smith's mental clock may have ticked down to zero before he actually had to take off.
Hit 3: 3rd & 5 at SF 47. The Texans rush five and Smith starts to roll out to his left. The offensive line initially does a nice job picking up the rush but as Smith begins to throw, right guard Alex Boone's man, Antonio Smith, shoves Smith while Smith was off balance, causing him to fall to the grass. He completed the pass for 24 yards to Ted Ginn
Hit 4: 3rd & 7 at HOU 26. The Texans rush five. Kendall Hunter initially picks up blitzer Brian Cushing but Cushing shakes him off and Smith again tries to run forward through the pressure. Instead he runs into No. 96, Tim Jamison, and Antonio Smith joins the pile and gives the quarterback an additional twist of the helmet as he's going down. Boone sees this and gives Antonio Smith a hard shove.
Hit 5: 3rd & 10 at SF 45. This was the least harsh of all the hits Smith absorbed, but it drew a penalty. The Texans only rush four but Antonio Smith easily sidesteps Mike Iupati's block -- Iupati is leaning too far forward as he sometimes does -- and Smith has a free shot at the quarterback. Alex Smith ducks as Antonio Smith came up the gut and Smith hits him in the helmet.
-- Matt Barrows