Wow. Unbelievably tough, gritty, smashmouth performance by the resurgent and real San Francisco 49ers. The 2 biggest weapons out of Deeetroit were rendered null and void. Or at least contained. Ndamukong Suh had 2 tackles, and was not a factor all day. His talk of planting our QB into the ground was prescient in the fact that HIS QB was the one sacked 5 times (Smith twice). Mergatroid had a good game (7 for 113), but was kept out of the end zone, and was not the giant factor he was supposedly going to be. The thing about it, is both were played straight up a lot of the time. Anthony Davis had a spectacular game blocking Suh, and Chris Culliver had CJ one-on-one much of the time.
Offensively, we are in uncharted territory. Alex Smith has led his 3rd 4th quarter comeback on the road this season. Something that hasn’t been seen since (wait for it) the Joe Montana days of 1987. Smith’s numbers weren’t gaudy or spectacular, but he led the team on a 4th quarter drive to seal the deal, hitting Delanie Walker on a 4th and 6 slant for the go-ahead score with 1:51 remaining. Crabs had 9 catches for 77 yards to pick up for Joshua Morgan. Gore slashed and sliced his way for 141 yards, including 2 big chunks of 60 and 44 yards to set up 2 scores. Kudos go to Bruce Miller for keying both runs with key inside blocks. VERY Rathman-esque. That being said, the offense was far from perfect. M0st of the 15 penalties were called on them, with a bunch of false starts, holding calls, and a few illegal formations scattered in there. Crabs made a bone head play when he tried to score after a catch in the 1 yard line was ruled incomplete because he didn’t get his right foot down (2 lefts do NOT equal a left and right). The next play, Delanie Walker dropped a TD pass all alone on the sideline. The Niners also lost the turnover battle. Staley whiffed on the first offensive play, leaving Smith dead to rights on a hit by Kyle Vanden Bosch. The play resulted in a sack/strip (and a FG). Alex also sailed a pass early in the 4th quarter to kill a promising drive.
Enough cannot be said about the defense. Deeetroit’s run game never go going. Stafford was hassled all day. There were 10 hits on him to go along with the 5 sacks. Stafford was forced to check down most of the day as the big weapons of CJ and Pettigrew had their catches, but Deetroit had a hard time sustaining drives due to the D line stopping the run and getting constant pressure. Brooks came clean on a blitz to kill a drive, Aldon Smith had a tackle in the end zone for a safety plus another sack, and Justin Smith was relentless as well. The secondary gave up yards but no home runs as Deetroit did have some success underneath. The D line has to be considered among the top 2 or 3 in the league.
Heady days, indeed. Harbaugh has seemingly made all the right calls in keeping Tomsula, Rathman, and Solari, while replacing the rest of the coaching staff. Their faith in Old McDonald (and jettisoning AF and Clements among others) has paid huge dividends. The biggest call is putting his eggs in the battered, maligned, and seemingly irreparably damaged basket that is Alex Smith. No one (OK, Twin, you get yours) foresaw the change in his game that has resulted in a huge drop in picks, and a much greater understanding of his offense. Lots of people have bemoaned the fact that he’s had too many OC’s, not real offensive-minded head coach, and all that, but I saw this as a placeholder season for Smith. As it is now, Smith likely gets another contract this year from the 49ers. And rightly so.
Shit, take a look at Baalke’s draft. His first without Singletary. 4 guys in the draft played significant roles in the win yesterday in A Smith, Culliver, Hunter, and Miller. I figured they’d be better this year, just not this good this fast.