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Eric Fisher struggling: 10 things you need to know

It's too early to push the panic button with Eric Fisher in Kansas City. But it's fair for the Chiefs to be concerned about the No. 1 overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. And it might not hurt to keep the button nearby.

Fisher has moved to his natural position of left tackle this season, replacing Branden Albert. That move was supposed to help solve a lot of Fisher's rookie problems, but he has struggled in both preseason games. Fisher was pushed around by Carolina's Greg Hardy and Alex Smith was hammered by Panthers role player Wes Horton after he beat Fisher. Hardy also got by Fisher to make a big tackle for loss, and Fisher was called for a holding penalty. He gave up a sack last week.

The normal caveats for small sample sizes apply. But Fisher didn't just struggle as a rookie; he was one of the worst starters in the NFL. The Football Outsiders Almanac noted he had more blown blocks per snap than any tackle in the league.

The Chiefs will be patient with Fisher because they have to be. They've invested too much. We just doubt Fisher would still be on the field if he was drafted in a different round.

Here are nine other things we learned after Sunday's two games:

  1. It's too early to say whether Cam Newton trusts his surgically repaired ankle. Newton didn't cut it loose on scrambles Sunday because it's the preseason and he knows he needs to get his work done in the pocket. After a few errant throws and no production on his first three drives, Newton directed two straight touchdown marches.
  1. Jonathan Stewart looked like his old self on those drives. At least the old self that was healthy, which hasn't been seen too often.
  1. The Panthers wideouts weren't a problem, getting open against Kansas City's secondary. Rookie Kelvin Benjamin isn't a speedster, but he still gets open deep. He made two nice catches for 41 yards. Jason Avant drew a long pass interference penalty. Newton might need to rely on his cagey veterans (Avant and Jerricho Cotchery) to draw penalties to move the ball.
  1. Both starting offensive lines struggled early, with Kansas City's re-formed group being particularly bad. Alex Smith played very well despite mediocre numbers (127 yards on 22 attempts), delivering a number of strong passes under duress. The Chiefs have shaky receivers and blocking. Smith should just take that money now.
  1. With that said, Dwayne Bowe showed none of the struggles he's displayed in camp. He caught five passes for 62 yards in one half of work. Reserve Travis Kelce had a long score for the second straight week.

--Gregg Rosenthal

  1. A struggling 49ers secondary suffered another setback when safety Antoine Bethea went down with a concussion early. This could be a big loss if he's out for a long period. The defensive backfield didn't look good early, including some miscommunication. Keep an eye on rookie corner Kenneth Acker; he looked frisky in the second half.
  1. Blaine Gabbert looked awful again. In two preseason games, he is 11 of 25 (44 percent), for 60 yards and two interceptions. Jim Harbaugh can say anything positive he wants about Gabbert, the quarterback's play belies any upbeat words. Josh Johnson did no better. The 49ers' backup might not be on the roster for long.
  1. Peyton Manning toyed with the 49ers' vanilla defense. A microcosm of the game came when Manning immediately picked on Bethea's replacement, Craig Dahl, for a 17-yard touchdown to tight end Julius Thomas -- the first TD in Levi's Stadium history (trivia!).
  1. Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall looked the part replacing injured Danny Trevathan. Marshall looked spry while compiling a team-high five solo tackles in the first half.

--Kevin Patra

The latest "Around the League Podcast" talks quarterback battles and debates the gang's preseason power rankings.

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