Silver linings: 49ers at Colts

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The facts: The 49ers fell to 3-4 with an 18-14 road defeat to the Colts in Week 8.

The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.

  • Rookie receiver Michael Crabtree led the team with six receptions for 81 yards. Two games into his career, Crabtree is easily the best wide receiver on the team, in my view. He doesn't just catch the ball. He snatches it.

  • Tight end Vernon Davis caught another touchdown pass, giving him an NFL-leading seven through seven games.

  • Quarterback Alex Smith showed good command in his first regular-season start since 2007.

  • Barry Sims played much better than anyone could have expected after replacing Joe Staley at left tackle on the 49ers' second offensive play. Sims battled Colts pass-rusher Dwight Freeney without significantly compromising the offense.

  • Embattled left guard Chilo Rachal threw a key block to help spring Frank Gore's latest long touchdown run, a 64-yarder that gave the 49ers a 7-0 lead.

  • The 49ers' defensive front manhandled the Colts much of the game, sacking Peyton Manning three times and making him work for everything. The Colts failed to score a touchdown on any of their four red zone possessions.

  • The 49ers again showed they could hang with an elite NFL team on the road. They led the Vikings in Minneapolis with only a few seconds remaining. They led the Colts in Indianapolis after three quarters.

  • Marcus Hudson made four tackles on special teams. Those tackles came after a 16-yard kickoff return and punt returns covering only 7, 4 and 7 yards.

Looking ahead: The 49ers face the Titans at home in Week 9.