Wednesday, October 10, 2012

49ers The Team to Beat in NFC

If you didn't think that loss to the Vikings in Week 3 would light a fire under the 49ers, think again. After shutting out New York in the Meadowlands in Week 4, the 49ers romped the Bills, 45-3 in Week 5.

It was probably the most complete game by San Francisco that I've seen since the 90's. They displayed dominance on defense and a killer instinct on offense, and they did it vs. a team many expected to a factor in the AFC coming into 2012. Granted, the Bills have been a bit banged up on the offensive side of the ball, the 49ers made them look like a High School varsity team going up against an NFL squad, as they allowed nothing to Buffalo all day long. The lone bright spot for the Bills came on a punt return for a TD that ended up being called back because of holding, and that really seemed to swing the momentum early. Even though they dominated the game defensively, the 49ers only came up with two takeaways, but they held Buffalo to just 204 yards of total offense. They also cashed in on both of those takeaways and put the game away early in the 2nd half. Patrick Willis again led the charge with 7 tackles, including a forced fumble, and Chris Culliver came up with a pick. They had such an advantage, that Harbough used mostly 2nd teamers throughout the fourth quarter.

The real standout in this game though was the 49ers' offense. It was Alex Smith's best day as a pro, throwing for 300+ yards, 3 scores and didn't get sacked one time. Smith's QB rating was a near perfect 156.4 and he only needed the 18 pass completions to eclipse the 300-yard marker. He had big passes to just about every receiver, hitting Crabtree on a few big plays, including his first TD reception of the season. He also connected with Vernon Davis early on for a 49 yard play that set up their first score. Smith could have had even more yards through the air if the 49ers didn't commit penalties on a few big completions, including a 40-yard catch-and-run to Mario Manningham. It was the first game in which we've seen the newly stocked 49ers receiving core make a real difference, and they did it with #84 factoring in on just one catch for 11 yards. The running game was also exceptional Sunday for the Niners, as Gore again reached 100 yards and had a score on just 14 carries. Kendall Hunter also found pay dirt and collected 81 yards on the ground with just 11 carries. The 49ers also had success running the wildcat with Colin Kaepernick under center, though he did cough it up one time.

Over the last couple weeks, the 49ers have gained a ton of momentum, and will be in peak performance mode heading into a crucial re-match of last years NFC Championship with the Giants this weekend. This will be the first real big test for the 49ers since Week One in Green Bay and will be undoubtedly the best defense they'll have faced all season up till now. It should be interesting to see if the 49ers can run and pass on New York like they did Buffalo last week. Also, the 49ers pass defense will be tested this week as the Giants expect to get Hakeem Nicks back in time for the game.

No comments: