Around the NFC West: 49ers' QB woes

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Alex Smith and the 49ers' offense were easy prey for the Eagles' aggressive defense. Barrows: "Afterward, coach Mike Singletary pointed to blocking as the prime culprit in his team's third-down collapse, and indeed bolstering the offensive line has to be one of the top priorities as the focus shifts from 2009 to 2010. But it's also obvious that two of the biggest question marks at the beginning of the season -- Smith and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye -- have not yet been answered as the season draws to a close." Smith remains the leading candidate to start in 2010 unless the 49ers add a quarterback this offseason.

Also from Barrows: The Eagles set out to contain 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter: "I can probably say that this is one week that we game-planned a guy and actually took him out of the game. There have been weeks where we've game-planned a guy and he was still able to get it done -- especially a tight end making catches on us. I'm really proud of the defense, and we were able to take him out of the game."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Singletary stood up for Smith after the quarterback struggled. Singletary: "He's capable of playing better than that. I don't have any questions about him. I don't have any questions going forward. Sometimes you try to make things happen, and if they're not happening and you force it. Maturity, patience, those kinds of things, trust in receivers' routes, all of those things, you try to make happen. As a quarterback, you have to learn you can't force it. He's shown me enough prior to tonight. He had a bad game. Great quarterbacks have bad games. So I don't have any questions about him."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers have squandered an opportunity to validate Singletary's claim that the 49ers would emerge as a "special team" during the 2009 season. Singletary: "Looking toward the next couple of weeks, realizing that you’re not going to the playoffs, there are a lot of things that are on my mind right now. I need to think more before I talk because there are a million feelings that I have, and it wouldn’t come out right."

More from Maiocco: Smith played poorly, as did several other 49ers.

More still from Maiocco: a 49ers report card noting that Frank Gore ended a streak of 23 games, counting playoffs, in which the Eagles had not allowed a 100-yard rusher.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' faith in Smith might be in error, but it's the only hope they have. Smith: "For me, this is totally different -- completely different. I think there were times in my past when I played similar games statistically and walked off the field and didn't really know what happened, if that makes sense. ... I feel like I'm seeing the game well. Made some turnovers tonight, but from my perspective, I instantly knew what I'd done. I would say this is very different from anything in the past that I've done like this."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News quotes 49ers cornerback Dre Bly as saying the 49ers are the best team in the NFC West. Bly: "This season was so crazy, because Arizona is not the best team in the division. We're the best team in this division, because we dominated them in two games. I have no doubt that this will be our division the next couple of years." That could depend on whether Kurt Warner returns and plays at a high level.

Also from Brown: Bly took the blame for the 49ers' struggles against DeSean Jackson.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says punter Andy Lee enjoyed a strong game for the 49ers.

Also from Crumpacker: The 49ers failed to validate president Jed York's pledge to become a playoff team right away under Singletary.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider blames the 49ers' defense for allowing drives of 90 and 94 yards, noting that Week 14 heroes Ahmad Brooks and Dashon Goldson were not stars this week.