In their second game of the 2018 NFL Preseason, the San Francisco 49ers fell to the Houston Texans 16-13. Niner Noise has your full game recap, including highlights, scores and analysis.
A week after quarterback Nick Mullens led the San Francisco 49ers on a game-winning drive in the final minutes of the game, the Niners called on their third-string QB to do the same against the Houston Texans, with five minutes remaining in regulation.
Mullens took the 49ers on a four-minute, 69-yard drive that ended with a go-ahead field goal by kicker Robbie Gould. Unfortunately, San Francisco’s defense couldn’t stop Houston from striking back with a quick touchdown — although wide receiver Vyncint Smith appeared to be down short of the end zone — which gave Houston the victory.
The 49ers’ offense got off to a fast start to begin the game. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was back in 2017 form, going 6-for-7 for 87 yards and a score on San Francisco’s opening drive. Garoppolo converted two third down attempts and one fourth down attempt on the drive, including a perfect 40-yard pass to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on a third-and-long.
Wide receiver Trent Taylor was the recipient of Garoppolo’s final third down pass of the opening drive, which the wideout caught in the back of the end zone for the 49ers’ first score:
Garoppolo continued his hot start on San Francisco’s subsequent drive, converting third downs on passes to Goodwin, Taylor and tight end Cole Hikutini. Unfortunately, the drive — and Garoppolo’s night — ended when rookie wideout Dante Pettis tipped a high pass into the air, which was intercepted by Texans cornerback Johnson Bademosi:
The 49ers’ starting defense struggled against Houston’s first-team offense, particularly wide receiver Bruce Ellington. Ellington — who was released by San Francisco last August — was able to beat starting free safety Adrian Colbert and defensive back Jimmie Ward on separate plays, with both receptions extending the drive.
The Texans’ opening drive culminated in a fourth down touchdown pass to Ellington, in front of 49ers starting strong safety Jaquiski Tartt:
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien then pulled starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who finished the day with 73 passing yards and a score on eight passing attempts. After three action-packed drives to start the game, the next six drives resulted in punts, and the seventh was cut short by the end of the half.
After a Texans converted a field goal to open the second half, rookie D.J. Reed provided some excitement on special teams with a 45-yard kickoff return:
Houston turned the ball over on their next drive, with San Francisco’s rookie linebacker Fred Warner recovering the fumble. Houston’s following drive ended with an interception by rookie cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, after the pass was tipped by fellow rookie corner Tarvarius Moore:
Unfortunately, with backup quarterback C.J. Beathard under center, the 49ers went three-and-out on all three possessions. Despite fantastic field position, San Francisco came away with just three points on the three drives; two drives later, San Francisco took over on the 50-yard line, but immediately turned the ball back over to Houston.
In the closing minutes of the game, the 49ers turned to Mullens, who led the team down the field for the go-ahead score:
However, the Texans quickly responded with a 41-yard touchdown pass to from quarterback Joe Webb to Smith:
The play was reviewed, and although Smith appeared to make contact with Moseley on his way to the ground, the call on the field was not reversed. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was perplexed by the call, although it wasn’t overly surprising; similar to the 49ers’ second-string offense, the officials were also in preseason form throughout the game.
While San Francisco’s coaching staff is surely disappointed in the final score, the first-team offense played well — and most importantly, the game was relatively injury-free.