49ers in unfamiliar position against Bengals

The San Francisco 49ers' offense never ran a play from scrimmage during the first two games while trailing on the scoreboard.

That changed in Week 3 when the Cincinnati Bengals took a 3-0 lead. That lead has stood through the first half.

This game has done nothing to change perceptions about the 49ers lacking punch or ambition on offense. The stats have been ugly for both teams. Alex Smith is averaging 4.4 yards per attempt. Frank Gore is averaging 3.4 yards per carry -- up from the 49ers' first two games, but still lagging behind expectations.

Smith has taken more punishment than the 49ers would like him to take. A hit from former teammate Nate Clements, now with the Bengals, appeared to include contact on or near Smith's helmet, at least from the replay I saw on TV. The only flag on the play was for holding against the 49ers. I'll be interested in seeing more definitive replays given the emphasis on protecting quarterbacks, or at least star quarterbacks.

Smith, who suffered a concussion in Week 2, stayed in the game.