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Josh Johnson was the best of the 49ers’ backup quarterbacks on Thursday

Film review: Stevie Johnson strong; Looney, Martin analyzed

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 - 10:21 am

Yes, Blaine Gabbert had a rough debut for the 49ers. But he wasn't helped by wide receiver Chuck Jacobs, who dropped a pass in the second quarter and on the next play fell to the ground just shy of the first down marker, prompting a three-and-out punt. Jacobs, a preseason standout a year ago, had a game to forget.

Having said that, you have to wonder if Josh Johnson gives defenses more to worry about than Gabbert and if the 49ers would be more dangerous with him behind center than Gabbert. Like Colin Kaepernick, he can pick up chunks of yards with his legs, he's good at passing on the run and he throws a good deep ball. It's silly to make any sweeping judgments after one preseason game. But it will be something to watch in the next three.

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Receiver Stevie Johnson caught only one pass for six yards. But he drew two penalties on the defense on back-shoulder attempts from Kaepernick and Gabbert. He also was very good at blocking down field. He had solid blocks on cornerback Jimmy Smith on both of Carlos Hyde's long runs to the left.

Smith later leveled Johnson with a late hit out of bounds in the first quarter. Johnson had to be restrained by Vernon Davis on the sideline. (Captain Torpedo to the rescue!) Again, the two teams will scrimmage/practice against one another for three straight days beginning Saturday. The chances Smith is involved in a dust up: 79 percent.

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That Hyde's best runs went to the left isn't a strong statement for right guard Joe Looney and right tackle Jonathan Martin. The latter, however, had a pretty good outing. Martin played both right and left tackle, and while he had a false start in the second quarter, he showed quick feet throughout.

Looney was not as good. (Which is a reverse of training camp where Looney has been strong and Martin has struggled at times). He seemed to get too high on some of his blocks, which caused him to be off balance. He didn't keep his block on nose tackle Brandon Williams at the end of the 49ers' opening drive, which led to a one-yard loss for tailback Jewel Hampton.

Tight end Vance McDonald not only had a nice catch and run on the first drive. He lined up in the backfield as a fullback on the first play and helped spring Hyde for seven yards.

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The 49ers played a lot of backups on defense and it took them a while to get into the flow of the game. Tight end Dennis Pitta ran right past outside linebacker Dan Skuta, starting in place of Aldon Smith, for 14-yard catch on Baltimore's opening series. Three plays later, the fullback blew past Chris Borland, starting in place of Patrick Willis, for a 12-yard catch.

Borland flew around the field like he always does. But he was only credited with one defensive tackle. His best play came on special teams when he tripped up the Ravens return man with a diving tackle. Borland was around a lot of plays but didn’t make a lot of plays.

Jim Harbaugh was right. The 49ers' defensive line did get pushed around a bit. But Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine had strong games overall, especially Dial. His team may need him at nose tackle this year. But at 6-5, Dial's natural spot is defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

Lawrence Okoye's injury was odd. He received a friendly-fire undercut by Dial on a running play, but popped to his feet. There seemed to be a delayed reaction. On the next play, he immediately went to the ground when he tried to push off the same left ankle that Dial had rolled onto.

Okoye did not have a great game. He spent a lot of time on the ground or with his back to the football. As has been the case in training camp, he was at his best when pinning his ears back and bull-rushing on an obvious passing down.

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A couple of under-the-radar achievers: I thought Ryan Seymour looked good at right tackle with the second-team unit. Seymour is one of those lineman who can play multiple spots. He might be a younger, more mobile version of Adam Snyder. … Punter Colton Schmidt is not going to make the team as long as Andy Lee is healthy. But he put some very good game film together by pinning two punts just outside the Ravens goal line (though one was called back on a penalty) …. As expected, Bruce Ellington looked nothing like a rookie and seemed like he belonged out there. He may be the fastest 49ers receiver; he's certainly the quickest.


Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.

Read more articles by Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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