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August 17, 2013
Film review: Haralson, Cox stand out, Asomugha tested deep; was Jenkins open?


There's no overstating how well the 49ers reserve defense did against the Chiefs starters Friday night in Kansas City. Ok, that performance is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the Chiefs are learning a new offense, they have a new quarterback and were playing without tailback Jamaal Charles. But the Chiefs starters did well in the preseason opener against the Saints and sputtered throughout the first half against, briefly, the 49ers' first-string defense and then the reserves,

Healthy again, Parys Haralson was one of the stand-out stars of the game, and he did well against No. 1 overall draft pick Eric Fisher. Haralson finished with a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, three tackles, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery. Not a bad stat sheet.

Perrish Cox had two sacks out of the slot position while Michael Wilhoite and rookie Corey Lemonier had strong games just like last week.

A host of 49ers got their hands on Alex Smith, including Cox, Haralson, Lemonier, Dan Skuta, Eric Reid and, of course, Tony Jerod-Eddie, who was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit. After the game, Jerod-Eddie said he was aiming for the strike zone - the area above the knees to an opponent's shoulder - and that Smith ducked his head at the last second, which caused the helmet-to-helmet contact.

Jim Harbaugh said he thought receiver A.J. Jenkins had a step on cornerback Sean Smith on the throw that turned out to be an interception. If he did, it was a slight step. Maybe if Colt McCoy had lofted the ball well ahead of the pair, Jenkins would have increased his lead on the bigger Smith. But the pass was underthrown, which gave Jenkins no chance to make a play.

Jenkins was shut out in the game, but like last week's interception, it's hard to blame this turnover on him. Having said that, Jenkins at times had a hard time getting off the line of scrimmage against Smith, one of the bigger, more physical cornerbacks in the league (and someone the 49ers briefly considered in free agency). It provides a template for how defenses, say, Seattle's, would approach Jenkins.

Special teams mistakes are to be expected in preseason. After all, the units are often composed of rookies and street free agents, many of whom are playing on special teams for the first time. The 104-yard kickoff return, however, occurred against players the 49ers hope to be part of their core coverage unit.

The opening kickoff coverage unit consisted of: Phil Dawson, Dan Skuta, Craig Dahl, Tramaine Brock, Cam Johnson, Trenton Robinson, Nick Moody, C.J. Spillman, Corey Lemonier, Anthony Dixon and Perrish Cox. It's hard to tell where the mistake was made, but it seemed as if Johnson should have been in position to initially bottle up returner Quintin Demps.

Frank Gore picked up a downfield block from Vernon Davis and Colin Kaepernick. But he was mostly responsible for his 52-yard run in the first quarter. The Chiefs strung out the play nicely but didn't have anyone to guard the backside. Gore recognized the opening and was gone.

When McCoy was sacked for a five-yard loss in the first quarter, LaMichael James started to vacate the backfield, then realized there was a blitzing linebacker and couldn't get back in time to block him. James' pass protection is infinitely better than it was a year ago at this time. The sack was a recognition issue, which will improve through experiences like this one.

Nnamdi Asomugha hasn't been tested deep much. Alex Smith did just that in the first quarter, but his target, Jon Baldwin, stumbled. Asomugha was by his side in coverage and safety C.J. Spillman was there as well.

Colton Schmidt is putting together some good game film this summer. The rookie from UC Davis had the unenviable task of punting with his heals on the edge of the back of the end zone when the ball at the San Francisco 1-yard line. The result: A boomer that went 62 yards.

Brian Jennings' clutch snap helped, but the punt was impressive given the circumstances. Schmidt averaged 48 yards on his three punts. Starters Andy Lee and Kansas City's Dustin Colquitt averaged 38.3 and 45 yards by comparison.

-- 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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