In a battle of career backup quarterbacks, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo out-dueled Tom Savage and T.J. Yates to lead the 49ers to a 26-16 win over the Texans last Sunday at NRG Stadium.
For the Texans, the game was just another forgettable game in a forgettable season, except for the injury suffered by quarterback Tom Savage just before halftime.
Savage was hit in the Texans’ end zone and was unresponsive for several seconds as his hands and fingers twitched uncontrollably. He was able to walk off the field, and pass the league’s concussion on-field testing. After entering the game for another series, Savage threw two incomplete passes as the Texans went 3-and-out. On the sidelines, he was tested again, and this time he failed the exam and went to the locker room. After the game, Savage was officially placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
The open questions are how did Savage pass the initial test, and why was he allowed back in the game after officials and the television audience witnessed his response to the hit.
“Obviously, the (medical) spotter wanted him evaluated. We evaluated him. At that time, the evaluators made the determination to put him back in the game. And then he went back in the game and he came out and they evaluated him a little bit more just because of what they saw. And that’s where it’s at. So, that’s kind of where it’s at. That’s all I really know about it,” Texans’ Head Coach Bill O’Brien said. “Again, that’s in the medical people’s hands. They try to make the best decision for the player. Whatever they see and the testing that they do, they try to make the best decision with the player, and they weren’t satisfied with the results of the second test, so they decided to pull him and that’s when he went into the locker room.”
Savage will be evaluated during the week and must pass several tests before he will be allowed to return to the playing field.
Meanwhile back at the game, with the 49ers leading 10-3, T.J. Yates, in for Savage, began a drive at the Texans 25-yard line and moved the team quickly down the field. He converted two third down plays to keep the drive going, first scrambling 15 yards for one first down, and then finding DeAndre Hopkins for a 25-yard pass to the 7 yard line. Yates then hit Hopkins with a 7 yard scoring pass. The extra point was wide left, and the 49ers led 10-9. San Francisco was able to add a field goal as time ran out in the second half to make the halftime score 13-9.
The Texans took the lead on their first drive of the second half, as Yates hit Hopkins for a 29-yard touchdown.
“Obviously, getting into the game that’s the guy (Hopkins) I am going to be looking for. That’s a guy I’ve been throwing to before in my career. I’ve worked with him before, so I have a good rapport with him,” Yates said. “It’s a good idea to get him the ball as much as possible. That was the main focus just trying to get me comfortable and just get me going by trying to find him.”
But the 49ers quickly responded with a field goal, and then Garoppolo threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Celek to increase their lead to 23-16. In the fourth quarter, Robbie Gould kicked his fourth field goal of the game to make the final score 26-16.
Garoppolo completed 20 of 33 passes for 334-yards and 1 touchdown, and Carlos Hyde had 78-yards on 14 carries.
For the Texans, Yates was 14 of 26 for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought T.J. (Yates) went into a tough spot. I thought he did some really good things. The ball got out, the ball came out. Thought we really struggled to run the ball today, did not run the ball and that really hurts,” O’Brien said. “I thought T.J. made some really nice plays. We got a couple drives going a little bit, then a holding call. Any time you get behind the chains like that you’re going to struggle, but I thought T.J. did some good things today.”
Hopkins caught 11 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
“I wish we could’ve gotten it to him (Hopkins) more. We tried. San Francisco did a good job of doubling him a lot, especially after the second touchdown catch,” O’Brien said. “They really traveled two guys with him quite a bit and it was difficult. But, he’s a great player and we’re going to continue to try to get it to him.”
The Texans play at Jacksonville next Sunday.