Signing off a sad preseason

The 49ers worst preseason in 30 years is over, and that's about the best thing you can say Thursday after it came to an unmerciful end with a 31-15 loss to the San Diego Chargers. But, of course, there are many other things that need to be said.

--- "You hate to say it doesn't matter," quarterback Tim Rattay said after the Niners finished their summer exhibitions 0-4 – their first winless preseason since 1974. "But the slate's clean now."

--- Let's hope so.

--- Make that, let's REALLY hope so.

--- On the plus side, just wait until Rattay really gets into a rhythm this season.

--- Now that his forearm is fine – and just in time, by the way – the deep ball will be a part of the 49ers' arsenal as advertised this season, and that is huge.

--- Because cornerbacks will be breathing down the necks of San Francisco receivers when the opening bell rings if the 49ers can't loosen up opposing defenses with their run game and the threat of deep passes.

--- Put the ball on Brandon Lloyd's fingertips, and he'll usually do something special with it.

--- His shifty feet aren't too bad, either.

--- Despite all the time he missed this summer, we'll call Rattay just about ready for the regular season.

--- Evidence to support that assertion: Rattay left the game after one quarter with a quarterback rating of 158.3. That's the highest rating possible, folks.

--- But he's going to get blitzed mercilessly by opponents this season, so the Niners really have to make sure they get their blocking schemes down and protect him.

--- Nice form tackle by Rattay, by the way. But we don't need to see him chasing after – and bringing down – defenders at this point of the summer.

--- It looks like Andy Lee is starting to get the hang of it. And the hang time of it.

--- But, C'mon, Mr. Lee. Let that botched hold on a PAT attempt be the last one we ever see from you this season.

--- We saw enough of that – in fact, way too much of it – from the punter/holder who wore the same No. 4 jersey for the 49ers last year.

--- Here were your starting defensive tackles Thursday for the 49ers: Anthony Adams and Mike Landry. That kind of thing won't fly in the regular season.

--- Here's one of several reasons: Adams got absolutely blown off the ball on San Diego's first two offensive snaps.

--- Another reason: Landry was steamrolled on San Diego's first touchdown.

--- Right up the gut: If the Chargers can run at the Niners like that, other teams will be able to, too.

--- Was that LaDainian Tomlinson dressing up in Jesse Chatman's jersey for the Chargers? Or was it something else making Chatman look so good?

--- Josh Shaw? Well, maybe, considering what else is out there.

--- All we can say is, it's a good thing for those tough, speedy linebackers.

--- That said, they better be ready to take on a lot of the defensive burden this season.

--- Derek Smith, for one, is ready.

--- And Julian Peterson says he'll be ready for the regular season after getting his cleats wet for the first time this summer.

--- Jimmy Williams taketh what Jimmy Williams giveth away.

--- Deep passes by Ken Dorsey getting swept away by the Candlestick Park wind during warm-ups was not a pretty sight.

--- Cody Pickett's tosses, meanwhile, whistled and hummed toward their intended target.

--- Dorsey's getting better, though. It's just going to take him time. Lots of time.

--- Jamal Robertson will look to bounce it outside every chance he gets because he's much better out there than between the tackles.

--- Kyle Kosier or Justin Smiley? We're going to say Smiley, in a near dead heat.

--- He's certainly not a liability, but the Niners look a little vulnerable when Ronnie Heard is playing center field.

--- And that's what a free safety often is expected to do, isn't it?

--- That's why the Niners wanted Dwaine Carpenter's speed and athleticism back there to begin with.

--- His fumble definitely hurt him, but Maurice Hicks did so many other things right, including some fine pass blocking – and some great pickups of blitzes – that you can be sure coaches will be looking at on film the next few days with more than just casual interest.

--- We don't care if it didn't count. Rashaun Woods looked sort of special on the first ball thrown to him as a professional.

--- That 27-yard touchdown reception was called back by a penalty, so Woods came right back on the next play and made his first legal catch.

--- And then, a few plays later, he ran a pretty route that had a San Diego cornerback falling on his facemask. Woods turned that into a catch that kept San Francisco's second scoring drive alive.

--- The Niners, by the way, had three touchdowns passes nullified by penalties in a 9-play span during that drive. Figure that one out. Or, don't bother trying.

--- Woods does a nice job fighting for the ball, too, even if it's not OK to use defensive backs for leverage.

--- You can be sure, after that kind of tackling, that safety Erik Totten won't be around after Sunday.

--- Brandon Moore has moved up to become the team's No. 5 linebacker, but getting any higher on that unit will be tough.

--- That's no way for Arnaz Battle to instill confidence in anybody that he's the team's punt returner for the start of the regular season.

--- The Niners will have to think long and hard about keeping Gabe Crecion on the final roster.

--- Whether they do or not, the tight end position looks ready to make a big contribution this season.

--- The second-team defensive line stops the run just about as well as the first-team defensive line. When the Niners say they want to see some consistency from their defense, that's not what they mean.

--- And, as we leave the preseason, that still is the Niners' area of biggest concern.

--- But not the only area of big concern, to be sure.


Niners Digest Top Stories