Upon further review: Thumbs up for the 49ers

The 49ers aren't falling all over themselves about their breakout summer performance during Saturday's 34-6 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers, noting that it was a preseason game and all, and those results need to be taken for what they're worth. That said, there was plenty of good promise to go around for San Francisco, and here's a look at all things 49er that deserve a notable thumbs up.

WR Josh Morgan: The rookie is for real, and he continues to perform at a level so far above where you would expect a sixth-round draft choice to be right now. As Nolan said during his Sunday look-back-at-the-game reflections, Morgan "is where he's supposed to be." Combine that tactical efficiency with a guy who has deceptive speed, exceptional lower body strength, catches everything near him and isn't afraid to go over the middle, and you've got a rookie who is tearing it up with nine receptions for 182 yards and a 59-yard TD play to show for about four quarters of action in his first two professional games.

Mike Martz on the sideline: Martz runs a hands-on offense, so why shouldn't he be hands-on along the sideline running his scheme instead of detached from the action upstairs in the coaches' booth? Martz said earlier this summer he planned to work upstairs this season, in contrast to what he did last year with the Detroit Lions and has done in the past, but the results were obvious with him back in the mix on the field Saturday. And now the word coming down from above is that Martz's about-face in game-time location will be a permanent change.

DE Ray McDonald: There's a reason McDonald has worked his way onto the field as one of San Francisco's starting 11 on defense, even though he doesn't have the natural brute size that's usually required to play up front in a 3-4 base system. But McDonald packs some power along his 290-pound frame - just ask Green Bay guard Jason Spitz, who still has McDonald's track marks on his jersey after being steamrolled during one of McDonald's 1.5 sacks Saturday - and his quick first step already is big-league.

Offensive line cohesion: The 49ers were light years ahead on Saturday along their line compared to where they were the week before against the Raiders. Joe Staley played much better at left tackle, and Jonas Jennings is playing like a guy who wants to settle some issues this year about the quality of his play. Center Eric Heitmann is having one of his best summers - the 49ers are talking like he's finally all the way back from his nasty broken leg suffered at the end of the 2006 season - and Tony Wragge is playing like a competent NFL starting guard. Wragge is good enough to hold onto the starting position at right guard even when David Baas finally returns, which is good news for the 49ers and has to be a relief to the team. Left guard Adam Snyder still needs to get up to speed - could Wragge possibly replace him down the line if he doesn't? - but 4 out of 5 getting the job done at this juncture on this oh-so-important unit isn't bad at all. If you noticed, the pass protection was outstanding Saturday, and San Francisco quarterbacks were rarely touched more less even coming close to being sacked.

KR Allen Rossum: After all the yards this guy has racked up in the return game during his career - and he's near the top among the NFL's all-time leaders in several categories - you'd think he might be losing a little something in his step right about now at age 32. Uh … he's not. Rossum was at his elusive, tackle-breaking, jitterbugging best on his all-over-the-place 67-yard punt return to paydirt, and that's the kind of explosion - and legitimate big-play threat - the 49ers have been missing for years in their return game.

Going for it near the goal line: Hey, don't laugh. Mike Nolan has been known to play it conservative even in exhibition games. Just look at the opener against the Raiders, when he kicked a short field goal when circumstances begged for him to go for the end zone on fourth down near the end of the first half. This time, the 49ers went for the end zone on fourth down and a very long yard, and they got a touchdown to show for it, a play that swung the momentum in their favor and opened the floodgates for a 34-point evening.

S Dashon Goldson: We could talk about this youngster every day when pointing out things that are going right with the 49ers. The rising second-year pro did nothing spectacular Saturday - just the usual, around-the-football feisty performance that has become Goldson's M.O. this summer. He stuck his nose in on several plays, finished with four tackles, almost had a diving interception, and made no mistakes in coverage as he continued to exhibit his range and play-making ability in the deep middle.

Secondary of success: Goldson isn't the only defensive back whose play was worthy of mention Saturday. Walt Harris, Nate Clements, Shawntae Spencer and Donald Strickland - among others - all made notable plays on a night when the Packers got little or nothing going through the air. Green Bay had 13 different receivers catch at least one pass - but eight of them averaged eight yards or fewer per reception. Only five of Green Bay's 18 receptions went for 10 yards or more as the secondary was superb throughout the evening.

Primary weapons showing spark: Tight end Vernon Davis and running backs Frank Gore and DeShaun Foster both gave glimpses of what they can do offensively with the ball in their hands during their limited work with the first team. Gore and Foster promise to be a wonderful 1-2 punch at tailback, and we particularly liked seeing Davis get isolated on defenders in the passing game, not to mention watching him toss aside linebacker Brandon Chillar in the open field like he was yesterday's newspaper.

So that's what a pass rush looks like: We've already mentioned McDonald, but the 49ers had it coming from all areas Sunday, and that's Nolan's 3-4 scheme working at its best. Justin Smith, Tully Banta-Cain, Walter Curry, Manny Lawson and Roderick Green all got in on the sack action, and Isaac Sopoaga and Ronnie Fields both had some nice push from the interior, a place from where the 49ers need to get more of that to be successful. Even in the preseason, a six-sack evening is not to be taken lightly.

Confidence: Was that a little bit of swagger the 49ers started to show Saturday while they were stomping the Packers into the ground? For two years now, the 49ers have been playing from behind and trying to catch up in that all-important area of confidence. But after looking mah-ve-lous Saturday - and most importantly, showing a lot of much-needed progress - the Niners truly have something to believe in to build on as they move forward to the final stages of their summer preparation. "Yeah, it does build confidence," Nolan said. "More importantly, it builds confidence in our players. We have, as everyone does in training camp, you have good days and bad days. But this offense, as everyone in the league has witnessed, is an extremely good offense, and Mike Martz probably does as good a job as anybody in the league, if not better. So, I'm confident it's getting better all the time. Success breeds success. It breeds confidence. That confidence is what becomes success. So, it's a good thing. But, when you do it in a game, it's much better. Unlike a year ago, and even in the past three years, we've had a lot of flashes, whether it be in training camp or the practice against the Raiders, or even in our two preseason games, we've had a lot of, like I said, spurts and flashes of good stuff. We just – last night we just put it together more often than we had up to this point. So, I'm encouraged by that, as we all would be."

Amen.


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