The last time the San Francisco 49ers finished the preseason with an unbeaten record was 1992. In that year the 49ers finished 14-2 and lost in the NFC Championship. Now I am not saying the 49ers will make it all the way to the NFC Championship game however a 4-0 record is the best you can do in preseason and with the way the offense, defense and special teams played in the four wins optimism is running high.
The 49ers defeated the Chargers 17-14. The most telling thing about yesterday’s game was QB Alex Smith not playing even though he was healthy. Smith has shown a command of the offense, a system that he is in for the second year in a row which is a first in his NFL career. If Smith was struggling and he and the coaches did not have the confidence that he can make plays and read the defense he would have been out there in the final preseason game.
WR Dominique Zeigler played his way onto the roster against the Chargers. Zeigler knew he was on the bubble and took advantage of every pass thrown to him. His two best catches were ruled incomplete, the first a one hander in the corner of the end zone and the second a leaping grab over the defender just out of bounds. Zeigler’s best reception ruled a catch was when QB David Carr zipped a pass to Zeigler in between two defenders. Zeigler had been decked hard against the Raiders so to see him not pull up on the play is a great sign.
The bowling ball with quick feet, aka Anthony Dixon, has made the 49er Faithful forget about Glenn Coffee’s retirement. Dixon’s 46-yard TD run was a beauty that was made possible with rookie guard Mike Iupati mowing down defenders giving Dixon his running line to cut inside for the score. All teams see flashes of greatness from backups in the preseason that usually does not translate to the regular season but with Dixon this will not be the case. As a primary backup to Frank Gore, Brian Westbrook’s role has yet to be determined, Dixon will be able to come in on any down to rest Gore and the offense will have the confidence to continue to run the football.
The special teams this season could be the difference between some wins and losses. Last season the return game was horrible and cost us some wins. With the addition of Ted Ginn Jr. to return kick-offs and the emergence of rookie Phillip Adams returning punts, who almost had another punt ran back for a touchdown against the Chargers, the special teams is in good hands.
LB Travis LaBoy continued his quest to make the 49ers roster and he might have secured a spot with his play in the final preseason game. He pressured the Chargers QB’s all game. Speaking of which, is it me or is defensive coordinator Greg Manusky blitzing an awful lot during the preseason? It worked well last night but when the Chargers knew it was coming they had their hot routes to throw to and they gained lots of yards. I doubt Manusky will have the D blitzing as much in the regular season.
The two biggest disappoints on defense has been CB’s Karl Paymah and Tarell Brown. Both have not played well this preseason and been prone to giving up the big play and have not tackled well. One of the two CB’s was going to be part of the nickel package but it seems the 49ers might have to look elsewhere. Brown is the bigger disappointment because of the way he played into the starting lineup last season and I thought he would pick up where he left off this season.
It has been reported that RB Michael Robinson and WR Jason Hill have been released. Robinson was a surprise because of his play on special teams the last few years. But with three running backs he was the odd man out. Hill was on the bubble with Zeigler and Zeigler out played him.
The regular season roster will be released tomorrow.