Tom Savage threw two second-half touchdown passes as the Houston Texans overcame a sluggish first half en route to a 24-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night in the preseason opener for both teams at Santa Clara.
Savage threw scoring passes to Stephen Anderson and Akeem Hunt as Houston scored 17 unanswered points to overcome a 13-7 halftime deficit. Savage completed 14 of 24 passes for 168 yards in relief of starter Brock Osweiler.
Osweiler was 4-for-7 for 27 yards in three series before exiting in his first action for the Texans after departing the Denver Broncos as a free agent and signing a four-year, $72 million free agent contract.
Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt sat out for Houston as he continues his recuperation from last month’s back surgery.
Blaine Gabbert tossed a touchdown pass for the 49ers, who impressively rolled up offensive yardage in Chip Kelly’s first game as coach before stalling in the second half. San Francisco had 409 yards of total offense while running Kelly’s quick-paced, no-huddle attack, but totaled just 107 in the second half.
Gabbert hit on four of 10 passes for 63 yards in two series, including a 43-yard scoring pass to Vance McDonald.
Gabbert is competing with Colin Kaepernick for the starting job, but Kaepernick was ruled out of the contest earlier Sunday with an injury to his throwing shoulder.
The Texans didn’t score their first offensive points until Ka’imi Fairbairn booted a 45-yard field goal to cut San Francisco’s lead to 13-10 with 7:21 left in the third quarter. Houston moved ahead when Savage threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Anderson to account for a four-point edge with 3:42 remaining in the third.
Savage added a 9-yard touchdown pass to Hunt with 9:22 left in the contest to make it 24-13.
San Francisco ran off 50 offensive plays and outgained Houston 302-89 in a first half that concluded with the 49ers holding a 13-7 lead.
The Texans struck first on a defensive touchdown. Defensive end Christian Covington forced San Francisco running back Carlos Hyde to fumble, and linebacker John Simon scooped up the ball and scampered 41 yards for a score with 11:33 left in the first quarter.
Gabbert evened the score just over four minutes later when he connected with McDonald on the lengthy catch-and-run play. Phil Dawson added field goals of 25 and 50 yards to give San Francisco the six-point halftime cushion.