Three things to look for in tonight’s preseason game for the Texans against the 49ers at Candlestick Park, where kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Mario Williams’ giant preseason spotlight will glare again. People are being a little crazy in wanting to give a thumbs down so quickly to his transition to outside linebacker in a 3-4. He’s still getting used to standing up. Look to see if he can be disruptive against Alex Smith and the 49ers, not just with sacks, pressures and hits, but with tackles of running backs and batted balls. Even a zero of a night won’t mean it’s time for panic. But it’d be good if it’s not a zero of a night.
Run defense, particularly up the middle, was an issue a week ago against New Orleans. Houston needs to show its new defensive front can stop a back like Frank Gore as he attempts to find yards between the tackles. Inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans might not be on the field, but Daryl Sharpton is a talented replacement and if he’s in the lineup it won’t be a sufficient excuse for any failures against the run.
The offense moved the ball very well last week and will simply be looking to sustain things. Arian Foster should get a fair share of carries, with Derrick Ward or Ben Tate also getting a few touches with the first team as it works into the third quarter. Matt Schaub will continue to work the Texans play-action and bootleg passing game. But my biggest issue would be making sure the front liners make it out of California healthy.