Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two Weeks In, 49ers Sitting Pretty

The 49ers couldn't have scripted a better start to their 2012 season, rolling into Green Bay and beating the Packers, then following up with a decisive victory over the Lions on Sunday Night.

Just about everything has gone right for San Francisco in these first two games, and most football experts already have them atop the NFL Power Rankings list. In that first game in Green Bay, the replacement refs made things tough on the 49ers, allowing a block in the back to go un-flagged during a return that resulted in a touchdown by Randal Cobb, but instead of having that bring them down, the 49ers took it in stride. As good as they were last year, this 49ers team really doesn't have any holes. Last season you could beat them if you shut down the run and pressured Alex Smith because they really didn't have a lot of receiving options. Already, the newly stocked wideouts have payed huge dividends, not only for Alex Smith, but for Michael Crabtree. As good as Frank Gore has been through the first two, Crabtree has been as important as any other offensive player. Sure, Vernon Davis has two TD catches and Crabtree has zero, but Crabtree is the guy who Alex Smith is now looking to when they need to get that big third down completion. Mario Manningham and Randy Moss have also played big roles early on for the 49ers, and it's helped alleviate pressure of Crabtree. It's about 2 years later than 49ers fans were hoping for, but it looks like Michael Crabtree is the real deal, and a legit number one target.

Now, the offense has gotten a lot of pub after putting up 30 in Green Bay, then 27 on Detroit, but once again, the 49ers train is powered by their defense. They did a terrific job containing Aaron Rogers in week 1, then they made Matt Stafford look like a rookie in week 2. They blanketed Calvin Johnson, who was the one player I was afraid would give them trouble, by using bracket coverage on him and never really leaving him one-on-one down field. With his number one target consumed by the Niners secondary, Stafford looked out of whack. It also helped that the 49ers gave Detroit many different looks in blitz packaging, which kept Stafford on his toes, and like they have so well the last two seasons, they absolutely shut down the Lions running game. The move of Aldon Smith to an every down linebacker has made a large difference. There is really no area of the 49ers team that should be graded any lower than an A these first two games. Even David Akers hit a key 63-yard field goal in the opener which was a huge in the win over the 'Pack.

Just about the only thing I'd like to see a little more of going forward, are a few more shots taken down field to Randy Moss, and a little more of Frank Gore touching the football. If Harbough was worried about Gore running out of steam, he can breath easy, cause Gore has looked about as explosive and quick as I've seen him these first two weeks. He'll have a much tougher go of it vs. the strong Vikings run D on Sunday, but even getting him the ball on swing-outs and screens a few more times per game would work for me. He's still the 49ers most valuable offensive asset, he needs to be getting more than 15-18 touches per week.

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