Prior to this game, we talked about how important it was for certain players to step out onto the field today and prove something to their Indianapolis Colts coaches. We also touched on how playing well in preseason almost always trumps practicing well in training camp. Some people look great in shorts, but stick them in pads and place them in a simulated game environment (let alone a real one), and things change.
Here, we focus on the good and the bad that can be taken from this game. Though the final score indicates a 'blowout,' preseason final scores are meaningless and anyone who cares about them is a loser. The importance of preseason is in how specific players performed 'with the lights on.' Again, I'll quote Bill Polian:
You can get something from the practice field, but not everything. They don't keep score at practice. They only keep score when the lights go on.
So, who 'scored' and who sank in today's preseason game? Find out after the jump...
These are a few of my notes from the game. I treated it basically the way I would a team scrimmage. If you have additional observations, or you want to elaborate on a point, shout it in the comments.
- First unit defense was excellent. Causing a turnover on the very first play makes one smile with anticipation as to how good this defense can be. Without Dwight Freeney or Bob Sanders, Colts first stringers just seem too much for the 49ers offense.
- Kavell Conner played WILL linebacker today in place of Clint Session.
- After the turnover, Colts offense looked out of sync. Run blocking is a major issue. More on that later.
- The second offensive series for the Colts was vintage. Peyton Manning carved up SF's defense like a turkey. Several precise passes to Austin Collie, Reggie Wayne, and Jacob Tamme. Colts have so many receiving weapons it can get dizzying.
- We also saw Anthony Gonzalez run the 'Garcon screen play' to great effect. However, Gonzo needs to protect the football better when he gets into the open field. Gonzo fumbled when he was tackled, and was lucky it went out of bounds.
- Again, run blocking for the 'starting' o-line was terrible. Mike Pollak is just garbage. Even on the the Joseph Addai nine yard TD run, that was all Joseph. Again, why was Ryan Lilja cut?
- Marcus McCauley looked very good in special teams coverage. He made a great tackle on bad Garrett Lindholm kickoff. McCauley's effort held the 49ers runner at the 20 yard line.
- On the second defensive series for the Colts, Robert Mathis was doubled. He tried to use a spin move that was 'Freeney-like' to get to Alex Smith.
- Great run blitz by Kavell Conner against draw play. He dropped runner in the backfield.
- Ted Ginn Jr. got absolutely rocked by Jerraud Powers! Powers read the screen play from his slot position. Defense looks ready, especially considering no Session, Freeney, Bob.
- Manning goes 8-10 for 91 yards. Big P. sits at around the 6:00 mark in the first quarter with the Colts up 10-0 and dominating the 49ers.
- Curtis Painter enters the game. Run blocking is still terrible. Two runs by Brown net a total of -3 yards. Despite an off-season of preparation and a supposed 'renewed' emphasis on the run, they still cannot generate consistent yardage.
- Third defensive series and the D continues to shine. Bethea made play on ball, Powers catches the deflection and returns it 48 yards.
- Painter's first INT of the day is returned 90 yards for a TD. It's a terrible read and comes at the worst time. turnovers in the red zone are unforgivable, and when they are returned for touchdowns the QB should start worrying about his job status.
- The 49ers offense kept first stringers in while facing Colts second string D. 49ers scored another TD and took the lead.
Taj Smith dropped too many passes today. Classic exmaple of a guy looking good in shorts, but coming up small 'when the lights are on.' He should have caught the deep ball by Painter in the second half. It bounced right off his hands, and he was open. He catches that, which is what he is paid to do, it's a TD. Taj also dropped another in the third quarter. As bad as Painter was today, Taj Smith was almost worse.
- It was Mitch King playing fullback that caused Painter's fumble on the 4th and one exchange near mid-field. King bumped into Painter during the exchange with Mike Hart. Painter got the fumble back, but it was a turnover on downs.
- Pat Angerer impressed today. After the Painter fumble, the 49ers and their back-up quarterback David Carr drove into the Colts redzone. Angerer blitzed twice and recorded two sacks. Fili Moala got a sack. More on Fili later. Overall, Angerer looked good today.
- Adam Terry really struggled in pass protection. Bruce Davis of the 49ers abused him. Terry also had a false start in third quarter.
- Jamie Silva's knee injury looked nasty. Possible ACL. Does not look good.
- Brody Eldridge looked good. Nice catch and run on third down in third quarter.
- Poor tackling in third quarter for Kavell Conner. Should have had the 49ers RB in backfield, but whiffed.
- Jerry Hughes, on a flare route by Anthony Dixon, got stiff armed pretty badly.
- Fili Moala looked good as an interior pass rusher today. Number 68 of the 49ers was pretty blatantly holding him. But, it's preseason and the refs don't give a crap.
- Brandon King was solid today, making several good tackles.
- Devin Moore impressed me today. Jim Caldwell was visible cheering Moore; nodding his head with each Moore run. For a small back, Devin runs with authority. He finished with 4 carries for 26 yards.
- Tom Brandstater took over for Curtis Painter late in third. He started out looking good, going 3-3. However, he did throw a bad INT after guiding team into 49ers territory. Later in the fourth quarter, Brandstater's TD throw to Tamme was a nice play. Aside from the INT, Brandstater guided the offense well. He looked much more comfortable than Painter, which is a pretty bad indictment of Painter. Brandstater's only been on the team four weeks. For him to learn the offense and execute like that in his first preseason game for the Colts was impressive.
- On Anthony Dixon's TD run in the 4th quarter, both Mitch King and Mike Newton missed tackles badly. Newton looked especially horrendous, getting stiff-armed and out-muscled.
- Some nice returns by Brandon James. Even though fourth quarter kick return was called back because of a Taj Smith hold (again, rough day for Taj Smith), James ran well.
- Blair White impressed me today. He played physical and made some tough catches, especially the deep ball from Brandstater in fourth quarter. I LOLed at number 27 for 49ers on that play. He practically stuck his fingers up White's nose in a blatant inference attempt top stop him from catching the ball. White caught it anyway, and it set-up Brandstater's score to Tamme.
We'll do another recap later tonight to see which players improved their stock and which didn't. Needless to say, Curtis Painter should start sweating.