SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers won comfortably despite squandering multiple opportunities to blow out Detroit by an even wider margin.
Quarterback Alex Smith's stat line was more impressive than his overall performance, particularly given the field position San Francisco enjoyed throughout the game. Smith completed 20 of 31 passes for 230 yards, one touchdown and a 97.5 passer rating. Those are winning numbers, but 98 of those yards came on passes to Michael Crabtree (50 yards) and Frank Gore (48). The performance did nothing to undermine Smith's status as the favorite to start in 2010, but neither did it give him much momentum.
This was, in some ways, a no-win situation for San Francisco. Losing to the Lions would have meant more than beating them -- for the team in general and Smith in particular.
As the season winds down, the 49ers seem to be getting back to their identity as a team that succeeds when Gore runs the football from base personnel. Gore averaged only 2.5 yards per carry overall, but he ran effectively when the 49ers needed him to, particularly from the base offense, and he caught four passes for 81 yards.
The 49ers' defense played well enough for the 49ers to score 30 or 40 points. Smith and the offense could not fully capitalize.