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Gamer: 49ers Drop Preseason Opener to Ravens

Posted Aug 7, 2014

This one doesn't count, sure, but try telling San Francisco's coaching staff that its preseason opener on Thursday night didn't mean anything. Jim Harbaugh and Co. got a good look at their own players.


The lead: This one doesn't count, sure, but try telling the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff that its preseason opener on Thursday night didn't mean anything. With many of its players on the mend – only five of 11 projected defensive starters played – the 49ers powers that be got a good look at the promising backend of their deep roster.

More on that below. There are records handed out for the four-game exhibition campaign. With the 23-3 loss to the host Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, the 49ers move to 0-1 officially. As Jim Harbaugh and his staff have shown, however, losing a game in August doesn't mean a whole lot.

The quote: "That was a positive first series, but we've got some work to do... That's the biggest concern right now: We got pushed around." – Jim Harbaugh

The scoring:

–49ers K Phil Dawson / 25-yard FG / 7-play, 66-yard drive in first quarter / 3-0

–Ravens RB Bernard Pierce / 2-yard TD run / 10-play, 80-yard drive in first quarter / 3-7

–Ravens K Justin Tucker / 42-yard TD / 13-play, 57-yard drive in second quarter / 3-10

–Tucker / 22-yard FG / 10-play, 50-yard drive in second quarter / 3-13

–Tucker / 55-yard FG / 8-play, 40-yard drive in third quarter / 3-16

-Ravens QB Tyrod Taylor to WR Jeremy Butler / 16-play, 95-yard drive in fourth quarter / 3-23

The injury report: Demarcus Dobbs left the game early in the first quarter because of an ankle injury. His return was initially termed "questionable." His departure left the team with just five healthy lineman for three spots in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's 3-4 scheme.

–There were just four left early in the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye, the British Olympian-turned football player in his second camp with the team, appeared to injure his leg at the line of scrimmage. X-rays taken postgame proved negative, and Okoye only had ice wrapped around his left ankle.

–Wideout Chuck Jacobs appeared to injure his knee when running a fourth-quarter kickoff back 40 yards. He walked on his own power to the 49ers sideline.

The notes: Among the 49ers not suited up: running back Frank Gore, wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd, defensive tackle Justin Smith and cornerback Tramaine Brock. Linebacker Aldon Smith, who met NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier in the day to discuss his offseason, was in uniform but didn't take a snap.

–Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, wide receiver Anquan Boldin and linebackers Patrick Willis and Ahmad Brooks were the team's captains. Kaepernick was 1-of-1 passing on his first and only drive. He completed a 17-yard pass to second-year tight end Vance McDonald that set up Dawson's first field goal. Like Kaepernick, Ravens signal-caller Joe Flacco came out after just one possession.

Blaine Gabbert, who was intercepted by Ravens defensive back Asa Jackson while looking for tight end Derek Carrier midway through the second quarter, wasn't as sharp. The ex-Jacksonville Jaguars top draft pick was 3-of-11 passing for 20 yards in his first public audition for the backup quarterback job. Josh Johnson (fumble, third quarter) and McLeod Bethel-Thompson (interception, fourth quarter) also turned the ball over.

–Rookie running back Carlos Hyde started in Gore's stead. Hyde rushed five times for 39 yards, including an early 19-yard run. Reserve Jewel Hampton was the first ball carrier off of the bench. Hampton carried the ball eight times for 18 yards.

–Wideouts Bruce Ellington and Devon Wylie split kickoff return duties, while Ellington looked to be the frontrunner at punt returner. Running back LaMichael James held that role in 2013, but has been out of action at camp due to an elbow injury. Ellington also gained 16 yards on a quick swing pass from Johnson late in the third quarter.

–First-round pick Jimmie Ward, who is competing to be the top nickel cornerback while learning the safety spot, was the kickoff and punt units' left-side gunner early on. He recorded his first tackle by bringing down Ravens wideout Jacoby Jones after Jones' 12-yard gain on Baltimore's first drive.

Chris Borland and Michael Wilhoite started at inside linebacker. They were joined by outside 'backers Dan Skuta and Brooks. Also for the first snaps of the game: Tony Jerod-Eddie, Mike Purcell and Dobbs were along the defensive line from left to right. The defensive backfield comprised Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox at cornerback and Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea at safety.

–Ward and veteran Craig Dahl were in at safety to start the defense's second series. Dahl came on a blitz on a first-down play that also saw second-year defensive tackle Tank Carradine sneak past Ravens guard Ryan Jensen to sack Taylor. Later in the same series, Wilhoite sacked Taylor to force Tucker's first field goal attempt.

Quinton Dial forced a fumble of Ravens running back Justin Forsett midway through the second quarter for his second "FF" of the game. Dial, who is now a contender to start at nose tackle with presumptive starter Glenn Dorsey (elbow) out for an extended period, also collected a team-high 10 tackles.

–Also in the turnover department: Reserve cornerback Chris Cook bested Ravens tight end Phillip Supernaw to pick off Taylor. Cook, who has been impressive in training camp action, will seek the first regular-season interception in the 35th game of his NFL career come Sept. 7 in Dallas.

–Offensive tackle Jonathan Martin started at right tackle, then shifted to left tackle, where Joe Staley started the game alongside guard Mike Iupati. Veteran reserve Adam Snyder spelled Iupati. Joe Looney was at right guard in place of Alex Boone, who has not been at training camp after starting every game in 2013. Speaking of the o-line, Dillon Farrell replaced starter Daniel Kilgore under center ahead of rookie Marcus Martin.

–Veteran special teamer Kassim Osgood was in mid-season form, downing a 40-yard, Colton Schmidt-struck punt at the one-yard line midway through the third quarter.

–Per a new experimental NFL rule, extra-points attempts were pushed back to the 15-yard line. Tucker nailed his lone attempt. Dawson will have to wait for preseason-Week 2 for his.

–The Ravens announced an attendance of 70,529, but there were a lot of empty purple seats at M&T, which holds a capacity of 71,008. There was a smattering of red, too.

The advance: The 49ers will join the Ravens in Owings Mills, Md. over the weekend for three joint practices at the host team's facility. San Francisco flies back to its Santa Clara home on Monday after its third and final session. Stay tuned to 49ers.com for the in-between coverage of what we're calling #HarbCamp.

The review: Readers, we're working on a new layout for game stories this season, and we thought the preseason would be good proving ground. What do you think of the "Gamer" as we have it now? What would you like to see? Let us know in the comment section below.

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