Preseason opener: Who helped/hurt themselves
HELPED THEMSELVES QB Tim Rattay: He was playing against second-stringers, but Rattay shredded the Oakland secondary while putting the Niners in the end zone twice during his three series of action. The sixth-year veteran clearly asserted that he's going to be a factor in the battle at quarterback, after all. DB Derrick Johnson: The rookie sixth-round draft choice was the defensive star of the game, intercepting two passes, bringing back one of them for a game-swaying 87-yard touchdown return, and also knocking away another pass in coverage. LB Jeff Ulbrich: He's not fighting for a job or a starting position, but his brief stint with the first-team defense resulted in four tackles and displayed his ability to shed blockers, hit with ferocity and hold his ground at the point of impact. WR Brandon Lloyd: Gave everyone some nice glimpses of the improvement he has made since 2004 and showed that he clearly is the team's No. 1 receiver at this point. RB Maurice Hicks: Both of his slashing long runs were called back by penalties, but coach Mike Nolan was raving about his play after the game. S Mike Adams: He might still be a secret to some, but the second-year player has taken over as the team's nickel back in training camp practices and showed everybody why Saturday with some rangy play both at nickel back and safety, which included an interception he returned 41 yards. CB Willie Middlebrooks: After several unimpressive sessions in training camp, the newcomer showed he's a gamer by locking onto Randy Moss and looking quite sharp at right corner, where he knocked away a pass and had three tackles before the starters departed. WR Arnaz Battle: Picked a low hitch pass off the turf and burst past a cornerback into the end zone for San Francisco's final touchdown, while also displaying some elusiveness the other two times he touched the ball. NG Isaac Sopoaga: Displayed his muscle and power in the middle and also got in on a few tackles. LB Brandon Moore: Just another day at work for this always-improving up-and-comer: Four tackles on defense, and another on special teams. DE Chris Cooper: Displayed both brute force and fine technique while recording two sacks. DE Corey Smith: They both came on the final series of the game, but that's not a bad time to record two drive-thwarting sacks. HURT THEMSELVES K Kirk Yliniemi: Missing a 24-yard field goal with two minutes remaining in an eight-point game is inexcusable, and means this second-year player will be looking for work by the time September rolls around. OG Scott Peters: He hasn't looked bad in training camp, but his disastrous performance Saturday in his first NFL start was a clear setback. QB Alex Smith: His struggles were relative to the situation, but everybody was hoping the hotshot rookie might start off his career with more of a bang. He didn't exactly put any distance between himself and Rattay in the race at quarterback, and his shining image took an early hit. QB Ken Dorsey: He completed five of seven passes, but they went for just 33 yards and he also threw an interception while exhibiting a shortfall that has been evident often in training camp: He has trouble with strength and accuracy when he attempts to throw down the field. OT Kwame Harris: He had some big problems holding off the opposition when Oakland's first-team defense was in the game. LB Richard Seigler: He appears to be losing ground in a very competitive battle for backup roster berths at the team's strongest position. CB Rayshun Reed: The second-year pro has been having a solid training camp, but he struggled in coverage, was a little sloppy at times and lost some ground to rookies Johnson and Daven Holly. S Dwaine Carpenter: Continues to suffer in coverage because of poor reads and technique. RB Kevan Barlow: The first-team blocking in front of him was lousy, but nobody comes away satisfied when he produces just six yards rushing on four carries. TE Aaron Walker: Was practically invisible while getting the start in place of injured Eric Johnson. OG Thomas Herrion: Penalties for holding and illegal use of hands on back-to-back plays in the fourth quarter hurts his chances on a San Francisco line that has very weak backup depth. WR Rashaun Woods: Came up lame before the game and did not suit up, even though he's one guy who really needs to get on the field and show coaches what he can do, which drove yet another stake into his chances of making this team.
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