Havner, or have not?
SAN FRANCISCO – Spencer Havner couldn’t help but feel a bit short-changed as he left Candlestick Park Saturday night.
The former Nevada Union and UCLA standout linebacker saw substantial action on special teams for the Green Bay Packers, but felt the frustration of his team’s 34-6 loss to the host 49ers and his own lack of field time in NFL Preseason play.
Havner had hoped to see some playing time at his defensive position, especially with a pair of fellow linebackers sidelined by injury. By game’s end, however, Havner was in the lineup for just a handful of plays.
“I think I played well with the opportunities I got,” Havner said in the Packers’ locker room Saturday. “And that’s what Coach (Mike McCarthy) just said after the game, for all of us to keep on making the best of the opportunities we’re getting. That’s all you can do.”
Havner hit the field with the Packers’ kickoff and kickoff return teams, as well as with the punt return and field goal block units. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that he saw his first defensive action, which saw 49ers running back Moran Norris score on first-and-goal from the Packer 1-yard line.
He returned to the lineup as a linebacker with more than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, promptly picking up a solo tackle by stuffing 49ers running back Thomas Clayton for a two-yard gain on first down.
But after the defense forced the 49ers into three plays and punt, he didn’t line up on defense again until the game’s final snap.
The Niners looked ready to start another drive – giving Havner another shot on the defensive side of the ball – with nearly three minutes remaining, but San Francisco’s Allen Rossum returned the punt 67 yards for a touchdown.
Heading into the game, with starting weakside linebacker A.J. Hawk and middle linebacker Desmond Bishop both sidelined by injury, Havner had hoped to see more snaps than he did in last week’s preseason matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.
But after the first string linebackers stayed on the field throughout the first half, the Packers sent in a second unit that did not include Havner.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “But that’s how it goes. You can’t control how the game goes.
“We’ve got two more games, so you just have to hope to get more chances in the next two games.”
San Francisco had several bright spots in the win, most notably Josh Morgan, a rookie wide receiver out of Virginia Tech. Morgan had five catches for 114 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown pass from J.T. O’Sullivan.
Among San Francisco’s three quarterbacks, O’Sullivan had the best night on 8-of-17 passing for 154 yards and an interception. Alex Smith, the former No. 1 draft pick, completed 5-of-12 passes for 62 yards and Shaun Hill completed 2-of-5 attempts for 21 yards.
The Packers hardly had anything on which to hang their hats Saturday, totaling 101 rushing yards and just 81 more through the air. Aaron Rodgers, in his second start as Green Bay’s No. 1 quarterback, converted 9-of-16 attempts for 58 yards. Running back Kreg Lumpkin added 51 rushing yards in the game.
The 49ers travel to Chicago for a Thursday night game at Soldier Field, which will be aired at 6 p.m. on FOX. Green Bay heads to Denver for a 6 p.m. game on Friday and closes out the preseason slate with an Aug. 28 home game against the Tennessee Titans.
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240. You can also read his blog online at TheUnion.com/blogs/sports.
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