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

August 26, 2013
Film review: Patton, Brooks stand out; Was Looney's hit a cheap shot?


Here's an analysis of the 49ers' 34-14 win over the Vikings:

I was most impressed with Quinton Patton, mainly because it was the first time I've ever seen him with the ball in his hand in a full-contact situation. His broken index finger recently healed, Patton, simply put, looked like he belonged. As I've written before, on paper there's nothing special about Patton. He's not particularly big or fast and he's not much of a leaper.

But as was the case at Louisiana Tech, he always seems to be involved in the action. I thought he showed really nice balance and elasticity after the catch against the Vikings. And, while it's very early, he seems to be a nice complement to the receiving corps in general and to Anquan Boldin in particular. Patton led all receivers with four catches for 35 yards.

And he wasn't only in on offense. The 49ers used Patton on specials teams, including as a kick returner and on the coverage units on the opening kickoff. The other 10 players on the opening kickoff - always a good barometer for gauging the final roster - were: C.J. Spillman, Perrish Cox, Craig Dahl, Dan Skuta, Anthony Dixon, Corey Lemonier, Kassim Osgood, Bubba Ventrone and Phil Dawson.

Osgood is interesting. He played 12 snaps on special teams but only five on offense. Dahl led the way with two special teams tackles, and that could be his niche this season if, as expected, Eric Reid takes over as the starting free safety.

No, Colt McCoy did not have a performance that said, 'Wow, you absolutely cannot cut this guy.' And the skeptics among us wonder if Jim Harbaugh's sudden backing of McCoy has as much, if not more, to do with McCoy reducing his contract Saturday night as it does with solid play.

To be fair, however, McCoy has largely gone against the opposition's top defense this preseason, as he did Sunday against Jared Allen and the Vikings. McCoy mostly had the 49ers starting offensive line - minus center Jonathan Goodwin - in front of him. But he had backups at running back, tight end and wide receiver. Kilgore had a mixed outing. He couldn't handle defensive tackle Fred Evans one on one on a particular play, and Evans tackled LaMichael James for a three-yard loss.

There has been a lot of talk about Joe Looney's low block that knocked Kevin Williams out of the game. It may not have been illegal, but it was unnecessary. Williams obviously was letting up and saw that the play was over. He wasn't looking at Looney, who went down and hit Williams at the knee.

Was it done out of malice? No, absolutely not. Anyone who has spent any time with Looney knows that. I think Cris Collinsworth said it best on the broadcast when, in regard to a backup player like Looney, he said, "Sometimes they feel like they have to do a little extra to compete."

As for cut blocks, they are common in football and were common in the game. Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt, for example, attempted to cut Ahmad Brooks on a quick pass to Brooks' side early in the game. The difference was that Brooks saw it coming and was able to protect himself.

Speaking of Brooks, he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. He was in Christian Ponder's face on the first two snaps of the game, then stripped the ball from him on the third. He also had good coverage on receiver Greg Jennings on third-and-four incompletion on Minnesota's second series. He got his hand on Ponder two more times in the first half.

After the game, Harbaugh said it seemed like Justin Smith had a "burr under his saddle." He slammed Toby Gerhart - no whispy tailback - to the ground for a four-yard loss in the first quarter. I'm no doctor (though my Mom wishes I were), but it seems like his triceps tendon is back to full strength.

Jon Baldwin had two catches. After the game, McCoy lauded Baldwin for his adjustment on the 19-yard reception. The four yarder, also from McCoy, was low and behind the 6-4 receiver. But Baldwin was able to reach behind him for the reception. A solid start for the former first-round pick.

On Lavelle Hawkins' penalty-ridden 105-yard kickoff return ... He received a monster, pancake block from tight end Vance McDonald. Dahl also had a nice block to spring him early. Also noteworthy: Kilgore was first to greet him in end zone, no easy feat for a 300-plus lineman.

On the Vikings first touchdown - the first allowed by the 49ers defense this preseason - no one covered fullback Zach Line out of the backfield. C.J. Spillman was the safety on that side, but he decided to rush the passer, which left Line by himself.

Remember the single wide-receiver formations that used Randy Moss last season? (Most of the time the 49ers ran it, Moss took off deep - taking a safety and cornerback with him - and the 49ers ran the ball.). Well, the 49ers seem to be using Marlon Moore in that package this year. That's further evidence that there will be no single No. 2 receiver this year and that Moore, Kyle Williams and Patton will be platooned into the game in various formations.

Backup left tackle Kenny Wiggins was yanked from the game after two straight holding penalties against Jared Allen. Wiggins took Allen to the ground on both plays but didn't seem to have his arms around the defensive end on either. He was replaced by draft pick Carter Bykowski. The 49ers usually keep an offensive lineman on the practice squad. I couldn't tell you whom they intend to keep this year as none of the young players has jumped out. The best of the bunch may be guard Wayne Tribue, who had a nice block on Anthony Dixon's touchdown plunge.

I've never seen an injured player so happy. Lawrence Okoye was hobbling around with a right knee injury after the game but had a smile on his face. That's because he had a quarterback hurry in the game. Indeed, game No. 3 was the neophyte's best outing so far. He helped collapse the pocket three times (he wasn't blocked on his QB pressure).

Okoye is perhaps the strongest player on the team, and he uses brute force to win one-on-one matchups. However, his technique remains undeveloped, and when he gets double teamed he gets knocked down (as was the case with his injury) or knocked out of the play. The 49ers must decide whether that brute strength is worth developing on the practice squad. Okoye said his injury was not serious.

Finally, Pro Football Focus has its own breakdown of the game, which is worth a read. Some interesting observations on Tony Jerod-Eddie, a bubble player looking to catch on as a backup defensive lineman. Here's a link.

-- 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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