The 49ers haven't looked this good to start a season in years, and it's got bay area football fans buzzing. The Niners improved to 2-0 after ripping the Seahawks apart in Seattle on Sunday, 23-10.
Everyone wants to talk about Frank Gore after Sunday's game, and rightfully so after he rushed for 207 yards and a couple of scores, but what's really carried the Niners through the first two weeks of the season has been a much improved team defense. Outside of Patrick Willis, Nate Clements and maybe Parys Haralson, the Niners don't have a bunch of individual stars on their defense, but they're playing hard and Greg Manusky and Mike Singletary have really installed a good scheme to get the most out of the players they have on defense. We saw it in the opening week when the Niners had Kurt Warner on the move and under pressure all game long, and then on Sunday when they knocked Matt Hasselbeck out of the game in the second quarter. For years, the Niners have struggled to get consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback, but in the first two weeks this season, they've had no such problem. They've also gotten solid play out of their secondary, another spot which has notoriously given them problems since the turn of the century.
Offensively, it was really all about Gore and the Niners offensive line leading the way for him. Gore broke off both 79 and 80 yard td runs and the 49ers collected 256 yards as a team on the ground. It was Gore's first 100+ yard rushing since November 16th 2008 and should put him right back on track after a sub-par performance vs. the Cardinals in week 1. Shaun Hill and the passing game didn't do too much, but they really didn't have to. Hill ended up connecting on 19 of 26 attempts for 144 yards and no turnovers while getting sacked 4 times. And what makes these two wins to start the year the most impressive, is that they've been over the two teams picked by most NFL experts to win the division. These victories have not been fluke wins either. The Niners thoroughly outplayed both the Cards and the Hawks and really looked like the better team in each game. Now they're set to get their toughest assignment on the young season, but I don't think they could be more ready. They travel to Minnesotta on Sunday to take on the Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the 2-0 Vikings in what will be a match-up of two of the leagues' best pure rushing backs.
Crabtree Update: The latest in the never-ending Michael Crabtree/49ers saga has the Niners accusing the Jets of tampering with their first round pick. Other than that, the Niners are continuing to stand their ground with their contract offer, although it's been mentioned a few times that the Niners would increase it a bit in order to get the receiver signed. I still think this deal will get done and Crabtree will be on the field for the Niners sooner than later. I'm just not sure what to expect from him when he does finally sign. He's missed so much practice time as a rookie that it's hard to see him making much of an impact at all in the 2009 season, but we'll see what happens.