San Francisco 49ers vs. Houston Texans: What To Look For


It’s the 4th and the final week of the preseason and the Houston Texans have been able put the last two weeks of games in the “win” column.

The Texans seem to get better each week and the numbers are extremely encouraging.

They kept their penalties low with only five, costing them only 65 yards and were a perfect 3-for-3 in 4th-down conversions.  They also didn’t let the Denver Broncos have control over the football — each team evenly split the time at about 30 minutes per.

But, of course, the key penalties we will all remember from that game was D.J. Swearinger‘s tackle on Wes Welker just before the end of the half that knocked him out of the game.  He was diagnosed with a concussion after the game, his third within the last year.

That hit on Welker infuriated Peyton Manning, who had a few words for him after throwing a touchdown pass, eventually receiving a penalty for taunting.

Bill O’Brien defended Swearinger’s actions.

However, it’s unfortunate to see Welker out again, he’s one of my favorite wide receivers in the NFL and it’s tough to see a good guy down.  With as many concussions as he has had, I’m sure he is likely contemplating whether or not he should end his career to alleviate any additional risk to his health.

I wish him the best as he recovers and for whatever he decides to do.

The Texans’ roster has now been cut to 75 and the final cuts to the 53-man roster will have to be made by Saturday.

Here are some things to look for position-wise as the Texans take field against the 49ers:

QUARTERBACKTom Savage willed the team to a win with a quick, 74-yard, 3 1/2-minute drive that involved a total of nine plays that culminated with a 31-yard pass to Ryan Griffin.  Sure, it was against the Broncos third-string defense but it’s encouraging to know that he does have the ability to read defenses quickly, assess his targets and decide the best way to make his final strike.  One can also take Ryan Griffin‘s picture off the milk carton.  Savage and Case Keenum will be getting most of the snaps tonight as Ryan Fitzpatrick will get some rest for the upcoming season. Keenum has been named the starter against the 49ers.  I’m hoping Keenum shines against the 49ers to make his case of why he should be a member of the Houston Texans.   He can do this but it’s going to take working on the things that have forsaken him in his past experiences.  I have no doubt that he will.   With O’Brien likely to keep all three quarterbacks though, it seems that his spot on the roster is safe.  And that’s a good thing for Case, who would then be named the backup because, all-in-all, he has slightly more NFL experience than Savage and the guy can definitely move the football down the field, especially in hurry-up situations.

RUNNING BACKAlfred Blue is making his way past Jonathan Grimes on depth chart and it showed.   He received a majority of the carries last Saturday — he had nine for 27 yards.  The battle for No. 2 is still up for grabs and it’s four weeks into the preseason and it’s still a tough call in regard to who will be the backup for Arian Foster — a extremely important position because of Foster’s fragility of late.  Grimes had five carries for 22 yards with one touchdown.  I honestly think that Ronnie Brown is still around just to keep Blue and Grimes galvanized.  He hasn’t really sandwiched his way into this two-person battle as I thought.  If they were to give awards to who worked the hardest at their position, Grimes would win but it’s clear that Blue has more upside.

Aug 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Alfred Blue (44) celebrates with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (87) after scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

RIGHT CORNER BACK:  This is also an important No. 2 battle to backup up the 30-year-old Johnathan Joseph, who has been plagued by injury.  You never know when these guys may be called up for duty during the season so Joseph’s backup must be on standby at all times.  So far, A.J. Bouye and Brandon Harris have been strong-arming each other for that coveted slot since the start of the preseason.  Bouye started out impressively at the beginning but has kind of leveled off as Harris is starting to make his case.  He has now edged Bouye on the depth chart and it will be interesting to see if he can keep his current ranking.  Harris had six tackles last week in comparison to none for Bouye I’d have to say this battle is alive and well!

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PLACE KICKER:  To be forthright, yes, Randy Bullock has some slight competition but it’s his job to lose.  I’ve eerily noticed that one has to challenge him just to keep the motivation there in order to have the perspective that he cannot sit on his laurels and expect to still be a starter.  Remember when he was stinking it up so bad last season that Gary Kubiak was considering bringing Neil Rackers or Shayne Graham back?  Yep, I do!   He has to work hard just like every other member on the roster. The challenger is Chris Boswell, an undrafted rookie right out of Rice U!   Boswell has been doing some moderate-lifting of the punting duties for the talented, 38-year-old future Hall of Famer in Shane Lecher who will be needed immensely for the upcoming season.   Bullock and Boswell will both likely have some opportunities to kick tonight but O’Brien has said that Bullock does have the edge thus far.  Bullock did have one attempt last week, a 24-yarder in the third quarter against the Broncos.

The Texans return home to welcoming abodes of NRG Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT.

The game will be televised on Channel 13 (KTRK) and will be broadcast on 610 SportsRadio AM / 100.3 FM (KILT).

Go Texans!