Around the NFC West: Relief for 49ers


Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' first victory of the season allowed them to exhale. Tight end Vernon Davis: "I feel like I just took a house off my back. It was weighing me down, but I believe in my team, and I believe in myself. I knew we could go out there and do it." The 49ers went without a turnover in a game for the first time all season. Their defense dominated. Frank Gore ran effectively. Alex Smith threw a couple touchdown passes. This game wasn't pretty, but the 49ers avoided some of the mistakes that have doomed them previously this season.

Also from Brown: He gives the 49ers' Smith a "B" grade for tossing two touchdown passes and throwing no interceptions.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers coach Mike Singletary wanted every possession Sunday to end with a kick, a conservative approach designed to avoid turnovers. Linebacker Takeo Spikes: "We were able to get turnovers, and we didn't turn the ball over -- point-blank, period. I don't care. People can take shots at certain people, but I mean, period, that's how it is. If you don't turn the ball over, you're going to give yourself a chance to win."

Also from Barrows, with Ailene Voisin: Defensive end Isaac Sopoaga gets work as a fullback and fares well. Teammates call him "Ice Truck" and Sopoaga isn't complaining. Sopoaga: "Oh, I was so anxious. I was looking forward to it, but this is just fullback. I played rugby 12 years of my life. You know, rugby people -– we play with no helmets and no pads, so this is nothing. I love it, I enjoy it and I hope there is more coming."

More from Barrows: Smith's 32-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree was a defining play against Oakland.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says dominating defense was key for the 49ers. White: "After the first play of the second quarter, the 49ers did not allow a first down again until the fourth quarter. They bought enough time for Smith to deliver touchdown throws to Crabtree and Vernon Davis in the second half. Call it an equal-parts team victory, but some parts were more equal than others."

Also from White: Gore had three carries of at least 64 yards last season. He had none for 20-plus yards this season until busting a 64-yarder Sunday. Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha: "I think we were fine until the run. After that run, you saw momentum completely shift."

More from White: a 49ers report card with praise for the defense.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com summed up the 49ers' defensive dominance this way: "The 49ers allowed just two first downs on the Raiders' final 10 possessions, and linebackers Manny Lawson and Takeo Spikes recorded interceptions in a 17-9 victory at Candlestick Park. The 49ers allowed 179 total yards -- the third time since 2004 they've held an opponent to fewer than 180 yards." Also, Maiocco says referee Carl Cheffers flagged the 49ers' Smith for intentional grounding even though the quarterback was not under pressure and Smith's throw sailed high. From the NFL rulebook: "It is a foul for intentional grounding if a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion. A realistic chance of completion is defined as a pass that lands in the direction and the vicinity of an originally eligible receiver."

Also from Maiocco: Good buddies Smith and left tackle Joe Staley engaged in a sideline exchange Sunday, with positive results.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat describes the 49ers' postgame celebration, in part, this way: "Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, with KISS blaring over Candlestick Park speakers, joined the high-decibel chorus, singing that he wanted to rock and roll all night and party every day."

Also from Branch: Gore found the redemption he was seeking following a rough outing in Week 5. Branch: "Gore passed Ken Willard and moved into third place on the Niners' career rushing list with 6,032 yards. He trails Roger Craig (7,344) and Joe Perry (7,064)."

More from Branch: a 49ers report card with a "C" grade for Smith.