SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Blaine Gabbert overcame a shaky start to throw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald before the Houston Texans rallied in the second half against San Francisco’s reserves to beat the 49ers 24-13 on Sunday in the exhibition opener for both teams.

Brock Osweiler didn’t fare as well in his Texans debut, failing to lead Houston to any points in three drives. Houston got on the board early when John Simon returned a fumble by Carlos Hyde 41 yards for a touchdown but struggled to generate any offense with its starters.

With Colin Kaepernick sitting out with tightness in his throwing shoulder, Gabbert got the stage to himself in the battle to win San Francisco’s starting quarterback job for first-year Coach Chip Kelly.

Gabbert, who started the final eight games last season, did little to improve his position in the first two drives. He was off-target on his first two passes as San Francisco went three-and-out on the opening drive and started the game 1 for 6 overall.

But he was much more effective on the third drive when he scrambled 13 yards for a first down and then hit McDonald for the long score when Benardrick McKinney slipped in coverage.

Gabbert finished 4 for 10 for 63 yards and a touchdown.


Osweiler, who signed a $72 million, four-year contract in the offseason, went 4 for 7 for 27 yards. He took one sack and left for good after throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down in the second quarter.


GIANTS: First-round pick Eli Apple has a strained knee and is being listed as day to day.

Coach Ben McAdoo also said receiver Victor Cruz is still bothered by a groin problem and is day to day.

Apple was hurt in Friday night’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins. The former Ohio State cornerback had an MRI on Saturday. He watched practice Sunday.

Cruz, who missed all of last season with a calf injury and was limited to six games in 2014 by a knee injury, aggravated his groin in practice last week. He did not play against the Dolphins.


JETS: Matt Forte participated in individual drills for the first time since Aug. 2 as he works his way back from a hamstring injury suffered shortly before training camp began. While he took handoffs and caught some passes with the other running backs, it still appears Forte is not close to fully participating in practice.

Coach Todd Bowles said Forte is “still day-to-day, week-to-week.”

PANTHERS: Special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven will move into an advisory role with the team while continuing his battle with prostate cancer.

Thomas McGaughey has been promoted to special teams coordinator and Chase Blackburn to special teams assistant.

DeHaven will return to Buffalo to receive cancer treatments with the hopes of returning to the team as an adviser in mid-September.

TITANS: Offensive lineman Josue Matias will need surgery to repair a tear of his patella tendon, and Coach Mike Mularkey says the guard will be headed to injured reserve.

FALCONS: Rookie starting safety Keanu Neal, the NFL’s 17th overall draft pick, was back at practice after missing last week’s exhibition game with a torso injury.

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