HOUSTON –- Of course, Jim Tomsula’s official record as a head coach remains unblemished, but the 49ers’ 23-10 loss in the exhibition opener was not how he drew it up.
“Whether exhibition games or preseason game or whatever, (if) we’re putting helmets on to play, we need to win,” said Tomsula, whose regular-season record stands at 1-0 after taking over as the 49ers’ interim coach at the end of the 2010 season when Mike Singletary was fired.
There might have been some good on Saturday night, but Tomsula said he knows the 49ers have a long way to go before the regular-season opener Monday, Sept. 14, against the Minnesota Vikings at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers were outgained 400-199, and the first-team defense surrendered a 58-yard touchdown pass on the Texans’ opening drive.
Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer found Cecil Shorts III on a crossing pattern with linebacker Nick Moody trailing in coverage. Shorts turned up the field and split Antoine Bethea and Dontae Johnson to reach the end zone.
“You’ve got to play team defense,” Tomsula said. “You’ve got to be in the creases. We didn’t have a crease gapped out right there.”
The 49ers fared better in an area that Tomsula has emphasized after taking over for Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers’ offense showed better tempo in getting to the line of scrimmage with plenty of time to spare.
“The second half, I wasn’t happy at all with a lot of areas,” Tomsula said. “I wasn’t happy with a lot of things in the second half and tempo being one of them. We got off tempo a little bit. But there was a conscious effort to try to stay on time.”
After showing support for Blaine Gabbert during the week, the 49ers’ backup quarterback responded with a strong showing. Gabbert completed 8 of 11 passes for 86 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Celek.
“Again, I’m not surprised by that,” Tomsula said. “But it’s good to see Blaine out there with a nice supporting cast and able to function the way he practices. I thought he showed that today.”
The 49ers scripted a deep pass for wide receiver Torrey Smith, who got a step behind the Texans secondary. But Colin Kaepernick’s deep pass attempt sailed long.
“We are taking full advantage of this time to see where we need to be and what we need to work on,” Tomsula said.