Around the NFC West: 49ers same, different

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
9:10
AM ET
The San Francisco 49ers ran a power offense before coach Jim Harbaugh arrived and that wasn't going to change. Harbaugh, like his predecessor, very much values building around a strong running game.

There will be times, of course, when the 49ers need to open up their offense. Sunday was not one of those times. Their 33-17 victory against the Seattle Seahawks reflected defense and special teams much more than it reflected offense.

Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com says that was understandable. Ratto: "In other words, Harbaugh coached to his talent, Pete Carroll’s talent, and the exigencies of the National Football League. Why, he even did something with Carroll on the other sideline he had never done before. He took a knee to kill the clock. Twice." Noted: There was almost never a time when the game felt out of control for the 49ers. That changed only briefly when Tarvaris Jackson found Doug Baldwin for a 55-yard touchdown strike to briefly close the gap to 19-17.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle details Harbaugh's mood throughout the game, contrasting it with Mike Singletary's volatile sideline demeanor. Tight end Delanie Walker: "No screaming and yelling with Harbaugh; he's a cool, collected type guy, you know. I think that's what we need. We don't need no coach with two faces, we need a coach with one face, and I think we got one in Jim Harbaugh." Noted: Singletary was well-suited to serve as an interim coach, but he wasn't consistent enough emotionally or effective enough tactically to hold up over time. Harbaugh comes with better credentials in those two areas, for sure. So, while the 49ers' offense in some ways resembled its predecessors in this first game under a new staff, the head coach did not.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Michael Crabtree's foot bothered the receiver enough Sunday for Harbaugh to remove the receiver from the game in the second half. X-rays were negative, but this is the same foot that has bothered Crabtree since college, when a surgical procedure suppressed Crabtree's draft stock enough for the 49ers to land him with the 10th overall choice. Crabtree says he expects to continue playing. Noted: Ted Ginn Jr. did not catch a pass in relief of Crabtree, but his two return touchdowns had to be great for the veteran receiver's confidence. After the game, quarterback Alex Smith called Ginn perhaps the team's most improved player on offense from last season. Specifically, Ginn has improved his awareness of the timing needed between quarterback and receiver, Smith said. Perhaps we'll see that play out on offense in the coming weeks, particularly if Crabtree is not full strength.

Also from Barrows: Justin Smith's wardrobe said it all following the game Sunday.

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