The NFL regular season came to an end after Sunday's games, and the Niners ended up right were a lot of people picked them to finish at the beginning of the season, at 8-8.
Alex Smith and Frank Gore once again paced the Niners offense, as they went into St. Louis and handed the Rams a sound beating. It took the first half for the Niners to get their offense in sync, but once they did, they started rolling. Alex Smith connected with Vernon Davis for the 49ers longest touchdown pass of the season, a 73-yard catch and run in the 4th quarter that helped put the game away. Frank Gore also had a huge second half, rushing for 2 touchdowns and the majority of his 107 rushing yards. The performance gave Gore 1120 rushing yards on the year along (2nd best in his career) with a career high 10 rushing td's. He also pitched in 406 receiving yards and 3 td receptions as well. Pretty impressive numbers when you take into account the 3 full games he missed at the beginning of the season. And keep in mind, the Niners offensive line was far from a dominant unit. I can't wait to see what Gore can do next year with an improved O-line in front of him and finally a legit passing attack to run off of.
Smith was once again solid, yet unspectacular as he threw for 222 yards and a score, good for a passer rating of 97.6. After a rough 2 games vs. Arizona and Philly in weeks 14 and 15, it was good to see Smith finish out the year in strong fashion. He avoided turning the ball over in the final two games and carried a combined QB rating of 97.6. The Niners haven't yet officially named Smith the starting quarterback for the 2010 season, but don't think there's any question as to whether or not he'll be back under center for them when training camp starts in July. I really believe a full set of mini-camps and a full training camp, working with Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan, not to mention the same offensive coordinator for the first time in a while, will work wonders for the Niners passing game. These guys really started to get in sync wit Smith towards the end of the year, and the more time they get with each other in the offseason, the better off they'll be once the season starts. Smith's final line for the 2009 season wasn't too bad, but his win/loss record has to improved next year. He finished with 2350 yards passing in 10.5 games, good for an average of about 225 ypg passing. He threw for 18 scores and 12 picks and a 81.5 passer rating. The touchdown ratio (18 TD's in 10.5 games) is a solid stat, but he needs to drop the interception ratio a bit. But it's his 4-4 record as a starter that the Niners are going to want to see improve. In order to make the playoffs, they need to be better than a .500 team, and if they all develop accordingly, and add the pieces they need to add during the offseason, then they'll be right there with Arizona as far as the favorites in the NFC West. With the playoffs right around the corner, we wanted to encourage you to check out Doc's for all your NFL playoff betting, including NFL Playoff Brackets and NFL Playoff Schedules.
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