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49ers Seek Offensive Precision in Preseason

Posted Aug 17, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers have not scored a touchdown in two preseason games. Jim Harbaugh shared his thoughts on what needs to change.


From starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick to fourth-string passer McLeod Bethel-Thompson, the San Francisco 49ers would have liked better execution from their quarterbacks in a 34-0 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos.

Sunday’s shutout saw the 49ers get defeated soundly by the losing team in last year’s Super Bowl. It also saw the Broncos out-gain the home team 270 to 161 in net passing yards.

Through two games, San Francisco has not scored a touchdown and has been outscored 57-3 by two AFC opponents.

Kaepernick nearly connected on a 37-yard touchdown to Brandon Lloyd, the former Broncos receiver, but the deep throw was slightly overthrown down the right sideline. It was the first of many throws San Francisco’s passers would have liked a mulligan on.

“We had the one-on-one match-up,” Kaepernick said of his most notable throw on a day where he was 5-of-9 for 39 passing yards in two drives. “I wanted to take the shot, see what he could do with it.”

Blaine Gabbert entered the game behind Kaepernick in the second quarter and wasn’t able to get the 49ers on the scoreboard either.

Gabbert also committed one of the team’s four turnovers when a deep post to wide receiver Quinton Patton was slightly behind his intended target. Broncos cornerback Tony Carter came up with the interception.

“The biggest thing is consistency,” Gabbert said. “You can’t turn the football over because that disrupts the rhythm.”

The former Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick, whom the 49ers traded for this offseason, was 8-of-14 passing for 40 yards. He finished with a 32.4 quarterback rating.

When asked if the 49ers would look at improving the backup quarterback position, Jim Harbaugh said the team would not bring in a new player to the roster.

“We’ve got good quarterbacks,” the coach said.

In Harbaugh’s mind, it all comes back to precision.

“That’s football,” Harbaugh said. “It punishes mistakes; it rewards executions and precision. And that’s where we’re off right now. We’re not a precise team. Our precision isn’t there right now.  We’re being punished for mistakes.”

Following Gabbert’s interception, Josh Johnson and Bethel-Thompson also had turnovers  inthe second half that led to Denver touchdowns. Johnson lost a fumble and Bethel-Thompson was intercepted by Broncos linebacker Steven Johnson.

Bethel-Thompson was almost intercepted a second time on San Francisco’s final drive, but his deep post pattern went through a Broncos defender’s arms and was eventually caught by undrafted rookie tight end Kevin Greene for a 48-yard reception. The deep throw stood as the longest play from scrimmage on Sunday.

Harbaugh said turnovers will play a big role in determining who will back up Kaepernick.

“It’s pretty simple,” Harbaugh began, “Whoever doesn’t turn the ball over. They’re turning the ball over, all of them have… Whoever doesn’t turn the ball over will be the backup quarterback.”

San Francisco’s coach said his coaching staff would meet this week to determine which players will get on the field for the regular season dress rehearsal against the San Diego Chargers.

So while the 49ers took the Levi’s® Stadium field for the first time, the biggest takeaway will be from the disappointing film that played out on the new home turf.

“We’re going to look at the film and learn from it,” Gabbert said. “That’s the biggest thing we can take from today.”