Finding their way in Battle of Bay
Taking it from the top: --- A lightning bolt of Arland Bruce wasn't a bad way to start things off Thursday. --- Too bad the rest of the kicking game couldn't follow suit. --- The Niners waste Bruce's 58-yard kickoff return to start the game because Tai Streets can't catch a short pass that hits him in the hands and Jeff Chandler can't make a gimme 31-yard field goal. --- Did Chandler miss that field goal just so he wouldn't have to take a chance of looking bad kicking off on the next play? --- Chandler now officially has a margin for error, and it is growing thinner by the minute. --- Streets is going to see a lot of one-one-one coverage this season. --- Ninety minutes before Thursday's game, Tim Rattay was hitting Terrell Owens in stride with long, perfect spirals. Is that a sight of things to come this season? --- To be sure, Rattay is no Jeff Garcia in the open field. Or no Brandon Doman, for that matter. --- Dorsey in before Doman? That's kind of the way we see it, too. --- Particularly after that late game-winning touchdown drive. --- Dorsey got a hero's welcome on the sidelines after completing that drive with a touchdown pass. This was the Raiders, after all. --- If Jamal Robertson didn't make the team with his effort last week, he should with the way he ran the football Thursday. --- Brandon Lloyd is going to be a factor this season. --- But making adjustments like that is why slippery Cedrick Wilson still is holding off Lloyd for the No. 3 role at receiver. --- Don't rule out Arnaz Battle getting on the field at receiver this year, either. --- Jamie Winborn with a full head of steam is a beautiful thing to see on third down. Unless you're an opposing quarterback. --- But if the Niners are going to blitz Derek Smith, they need to make sure and tell him to hold on. --- It looks like the Niners are serious about getting the tight end more involved this season. --- The Niners' starting offensive line got beaten to the punch Thursday, but it's a unit that usually gets stronger as the game goes along than it is at the start. --- Adding a physical dimension to his finesse will make Ahmed Plummer a better cornerback this season. --- But it wasn't too encouraging to see him carted off the field to get X-rays on the same left ankle that has bothered him throughout training camp. --- That Fred Weary replaced Plummer with the first team tells you something about the Niners' depth at cornerback. --- Is a Barlow burst better than a heady Hearst? We think maybe so. --- It's true. Mike Rumph really does appear to finally be getting it. --- The San Francisco pass rush is still getting there a step too late. Or two. --- At least we can count on Andre Carter getting there some of the time. --- The Niners signed second-year defensive end Jace Sayler before the game and he was in uniform against the Raiders. Obviously, San Francisco's pass rush is looking for all the help it can get. --- Bringing Julian Peterson off the edge ought to help, though. --- We once saw Jerry Rice lose an entire season in his prime trying to run a reverse just like that. --- You usually don't see fullback Fred Beasley missing blocks that badly. --- There was an Andrew Williams sighting Thursday. Finally. --- Marcus Reese is doing all he can to make this team. --- Anthony Adams is looking more and more like the man at defensive tackle all the time. --- In fact, with Bryant Young missing in action after having his left ankle scoped before the game, Adams was the only defensive tackle we even noticed. --- Well, we did see Josh Shaw lose his helmet. But what he really needs to do is a better job losing blockers. --- It was nice to see Garcia taking a few crisp tosses on the sidelines in the fourth quarter, as if to let everybody know he still can do it. --- Can't wait to have you back, Jeff. --- Why? Well, digest these numbers: On Saturday in Kansas City, Rattay, Doman and Dorsey combined for a quarterback rating of 136.6. On Thursday, against a better defensive team, they combined for a rating of 72.0. --- That was a pretty exciting way for Dennis Erickson to start off in front of the home fans. --- "I just wish it counted," Erickson said afterwards. --- Not that it really means anything, being the preseason and all, but Erickson now is 2-0 as head coach of the Niners. Steve Mariucci finished 9-18 in his six preseasons with the team.
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