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49ers Late Rally Comes Up Short, Texans Win 24-21

Early on at Reliant Stadium, where the Houston Texans hosted the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, it appeared that their game would be a rout. Steve Slaton had his running legs back and Matt Schaub was exacting damage to the 49ers’ secondary – all of this in the first half. But after replacing starting quarterback Shaun Hill with Alex Smith, the 49ers nearly pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, with Houston squeaking by San Francisco 24-21.

Things were clicking for Houston early on as they drew first blood on a Steve Slaton 1-yard rushing touchdown, making it 7-0; the second quarter would be more productive as Houston hit paydirt twice – once on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Steve Slaton and a 42-yard TD pass from Schaub to tight end Owen Daniels – increasing the Texans’ lead to 21-0. But that wouldn’t last for very long going nito the second half as San Francisco brought in Smith to open the third quarter.

The 49ers would finally get on the scoreboard, courtesy of a 29-yard Smith-to-tight end Vernon Davis tocuhdown pass, narrowing their deficit to 18. The 49ers would find the end zone again, this time early in the fourth quarter as Smith and Davis connected again – this time on a 14-yard TD strike – narrowing the gap to 21-14.

After a Kris Brown 50-yard field goal which padded Houston’s lead to 24-14, San Francisco would strike again 3 and 1/2 minutes later as Smith and Davis hooked up for another score- this time a 23-yard TD pass – which would put the 49ers down by only 3. But a late rally by Smith ended prematurely as he was intercepted by Texans safety Eugene Wilson.

Schaub had a decent game as he went 20-of-30 for 264 yards and a pair of TD passes; Hill stunk, going 6-of-11 for 45 yards while Smith was markedly better, going 15-of-22 for 206 yards with 3 TD’s and an interception. Slaton led the Texans rushing attack with 67 yards and a rushing score while Frank Gore led the 49ers with 32 yards on 13 carries.

Daniels led all Houston receivers with 7 receptions for 123 yards and a score while Andre Johnson caught a pair for 62 yards. Vernon Davis was the receiving target of choice for San Francisco as he caught 7 passes for 93 yards and 3 TD’s while newly-signed Michael Crabtree made a good impression for a player with little practice time, catching 5 passes for 56 yards; Josh Morgan caught 4 passes for 62 yards.

The Texans took a big hit as Johnson suffered what appeared to be a chest injury early in the foruth quarter and did not return. The 49ers will have some thinking to do as they go into next week deciding whether to continue starting Hill or go with the hot hand with Smith at QB. Houston (4-3) hope to continue their winning ways as they travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills next Sunday while San Francisco (3-3) travels to Indianapolis to take on the undefeated Colts – also next Sunday.

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