All auditions over

Final preseason impressions and determinations after the 49ers blew an opportunity Friday night to record the first 4-0 exhibition season in the team's 58-year history:

--- Let's just say Dennis Erickson's first preseason with the Niners was a successful one.

--- Even if it didn't start out that way Friday.

--- Two plays into the game, one big pass interference call on starting right cornerback Rashad Holman.

--- Four plays in, another big pass interference flag on starting left cornerback Ahmed Plummer.

--- Fifty-eight penalty yards later, the Chargers had a gift touchdown on the game's opening drive.

--- The Niners are going nowhere if that kind of stuff continues into the regular season.

--- But you don't judge a preseason on one series of plays, and the Niners' 3-1 summer showing was their best since 1999.

--- Too bad it ended with the stink of a 24-3 loss to the Chargers.

--- Was four offensive series in the exhibition season enough for Jeff Garcia to get the rust off?

--- Cedrick Wilson will sneak up on people this season.

--- Nice right cross by Fred Beasley. Rest assured he knows better than to do that once the real games start.

--- Seven penalties for 98 yards in the first quarter alone? Well, the preseason finale is a good time to get that sort of thing out of the system.

--- It was the penalties that came later, however, that might have cost the Niners a shot at their first unbeaten preseason since 1992.

--- Tough luck for Cornelius Anthony, who was making a strong push to remain on the roster at the Niners' strongest position.

--- But if his deep bone bruise is considered serious, that makes it an easier decision who stays at linebacker.

--- We'd like to see Jamal Robertson on the field this season as much as possible.

--- Brandon Lloyd, too.

--- The Niners need to keep both Robertson and Terry Jackson, just like last year, even if that means they carry four tailbacks into the season.

--- Don't worry too much about that soft middle of the 49ers defense. There will be different players manning that area when the season starts.

--- It's fairly certain neither John Nix, Charles Hill or Ross Kolodziej fared well enough Friday to earn a job on the final roster at defensive tackle.

--- John Keith wants to remain a 49er.

--- Whether he does or not will be one of the toughest decisions the team makes on Sunday.

--- But with the surplus of talent at running back and receiver, and the specific needs at other positions, is there room on this team for a fourth safety?

--- Tim Rattay's first pass after signing a $4.8 million contract extension certainly wasn't anything that would merit such a deal.

--- For that price, we'd like to see him a bit more mobile in the pocket.

--- If Saleem Rasheed can stay healthy, he definitely will help this team.

--- But he needs to learn to hold on once he gets there on the blitz.

--- For a guy who will begin the season as the starting tailback for a team that has several good ones, we didn't see much of anything special this preseason from Garrison Hearst.

--- But we do believe it will be different once the games start counting.

--- Alonzo Cunningham has quietly made a serious summer bid to make this team as a backup guard.

--- Jimmy Williams was much more tentative returning punts Friday than he has been in practice lately.

--- But he sure didn't look tentative on defense or kick coverage specialty teams.

--- Those were some of the things the Niners were hoping to see from Chidi Ahanotu.

--- Left side, right side, it really won't matter once Kwame Harris gets some NFL experience under his belt.

--- Does Bill LaFleur tackle better than he punts?

--- That's the most erratic we've seen Ken Dorsey, maybe ever.

--- But he still gets the nod over Brandon Doman.

--- The Niners almost certainly must release one very good receiver this weekend, then hope he clears waivers so they can bring him back to their practice squad.

--- The 49ers started Friday night with 73 players on their roster. They must be down to 53 by early Sunday afternoon. Good luck, guys.

--- The real deal begins in nine days. Start the countdown.


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