Trey Lance Dull, Trails 7-3
SANTA CLARA – Here are the ups and downs as the 49ers lag 7-3 at halftime in their home final against the Houston Texans:
Trey Lance’s first home start didn’t open impressively, and after three mediocre heats he started his fourth possession with an interception. It ruined their best position on the opening field (from their 45-yard line).
But Lance and the 49ers avoided a first-half shutout thanks to a last-minute practice, capped by Robbie Gould’s 37-yard field goal at the end of the time limit.
That practice began with a 17-yard completion to Deebo Samuel (and an ensuing late penalty against the Texans). Lance then missed Samuel in the open field, but a 27-yard catch-and-run to Brandon Aiyuk put them on 26. A false start from Tom Compton pushed them back, then Aiyuk gained 12 yards on a pass that slipped through Terrance Mitchell’s hands near the sideline.
Lance is 10 of 13 for 105 yards and a passer rating of 67.8. His four carries (14 yards) came in the first two possessions, and he landed a shot in the ribs of safety Justin Reid on one of those runs.
On the interception, Lance waited too long and knocked Kittle down the left side, allowing Desmond King to snatch the 22-yard pass.
Lance completed his previous five passes (46 yards), including 12-yard strikes to Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Sherfield and Jauan Jennings. He also missed a few open receivers along the way, which ultimately isn’t just reserved for a Garoppolo departure.
With 1:26 before halftime, after a streak of threes and outs, Lance and offense headed for the bench amid boos from the restless Faithful 49ers. A three-and-out from the Texans gave the Niners one more kick in a closing practice.
Garoppolo watched from the sidelines of the 49ers in a black tracksuit with an earpiece to listen to Lance’s radio play calls.
The return of rookie Elijah Mitchell after a three-game hiatus has come as a starter and with a solid workload. He has 38 yards on seven carries, and although he showed a nice burst, he was stopped for a 3-yard loss in the fourth and 1 on the second possession.
Mitchell found more open lanes than Deebo Samuel, who ran four carries for 10 yards and was only targeted with a Lance pass just a minute and a half before halftime (one yard completion).
WARNER BUSY DAY
Linebacker Fred Warner has a busy day, making 10 tackles at halftime and one for a 2-yard loss.
Things didn’t go so well as he tried to cover Brandin Cooks on the third and the 8-goal. Warner turned and slid as Cooks fired an 8-yard touchdown pass to put the 49ers behind 7-0 with 1: 57 until halftime.
CHALLENGES DEFENSE PASS
As solid as the 49ers’ defense came out, the Texans wisely tried to pass the third and the short, and although Ambry Thomas nearly intercepted such a pass, Mills connected with Cooks for a 24-yard gain on K’Waun Williams to the 49ers’ 21-yard line on third and three, about 5 minutes before halftime.
In the Texans’ third and 1 snap that followed, they dodged the pass and ran Rex Burkhead for a 5 yard gain on the 7.
Thomas produced back-to-back tackles inside the 10 – without a win and for a loss of one yard – to set up a third and a goal from the 8, which was when Mills found Cooks for the touched.
Arik Armstead and Samson Ebukam split a Mills sack a minute before halftime, to help the Texans stall and force a punt with 48 seconds remaining that saw the 49ers score in the last minute.
Both teams went 3-and-out failing to produce a first down on their opening possessions. After Marcell Harris’ third tackle forced a punt from the Texans, the 49ers took over to their own 22, and Lance was greeted with cheers from the crowd on his first home start. What followed: runs from Mitchell (2 yards), Samuel (minus -2 yards) and Lance, who rushed out of bounds for a 6-yard gain on third and 10.
Samson Ebukam’s tackle for a one-yard loss forced another 3-and-out in the Texans’ next series. They came in with 46 possessions, an NFL-high, which went to 3 and away.
In three series, the 49ers defense allowed 22 yards on 11 plays, and loss tackles came from Jones, Ebukam and Fred Warner.
The Texans’ fourth series also ended in a three-and-out fashion, and rookie cornerback Ambry Thomas played well a third and two assists, until he gave up a potential interception and pick-six. .