West Coast Killers indeed. Tampa Bay learned the hard way that this isn’t last year’s 49ers, last year’s coaching staff, or last year’s Alex Smith. The 49ers put a beat-down on the slow-starting (and slow finishing) Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the tune of 48-3. The largest margin of victory since the heady days of Bill Walsh (and Super Bowl XXIX). The 49ers, if they beat Deetroit next week, would BECOME the West Coast Killers. A suddenly a very legit powerhouse in the NFC. Hard to believe the speed at which they have assimilated the new offense of Harbaugh/Roman, and Vic Fangio’s newly aggressive defense. I guess Joe Staley was right when he said the O line doesn’t suck. The line pitched a shutout in protecting Alex, and opened up the tough TB D line for 211 (125 for Gore, and Hunter had some nice runs and 65 yards of his own late) yards rushing, and 205 passing.
The game yesterday was a thorough and complete beat-down of a tough NFC South team in the Bucs. One thing I like is the team has never taken the opening kickoff. They either defer, or the other team wins the toss. It seems to set the tone when they stop the opening drive. Especially when they can back it up with a TD. The Niners forced a 3-and-out, and scored in 4 plays to set the tone. The 2nd drive was stalled by the Gore fumble, but instantly erased by the Rogers pick 6. And the rout was on. Alex Smith now has the 3rd best QBR in the league at 104.1. His numbers weren’t huge, but they certainly didn’t need to be as the Niners threw for 205 and ran for 211. That’s balance. The big numbers in this game? 127.2 rating, 3 TDs, 0 picks. More importantly, he led the team on successful drive after successful drive.
The defense has suddenly become a ball-hawking (Nate who?) secondary that has 8 picks in 5 games. The D line has 12 sacks (including 2 by Aldon Smith yesterday) without blitzing very much. They confused and baffled Josh Freeman all day, and stuffed LeGarrette Blount to the tune of 38 yards. This was a statement game that I was fairly sure the Niners would come out aggressive, and not buy in to the grind-it-out style that everyone seemed to think it was going to be. These guys came out throwing (mainly in 2 WR/2TE sets), so there was little of the spread formations that were used the last couple weeks. Althogh Walker did line up in the slot for some big plays, includiong the opening drive TD that Smith put in there perfectly. They even used a bunch of 3 TE sets that resulted in some decent runs, and they threw once out of that formation for a 12 yard gain.
The great thing to see is that, with all the different formations and sets the Niners are running, there is a ton of shit for other teams to try and figure out. Passing out of 3 TE formations, running out of the spread, and being aggressive with the offense has been the biggest sea-change for this team. Harbaugh has fully sold this team on his strategies, and philosophy. I really didn’t think it would happen this fast.