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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.