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Sunday, October 16, 2011
49ers throw early? Shades of Minnesota

By Mike Sando

DETROIT -- No idea what the San Francisco 49ers were thinking with a slow-developing pass on the first play from scrimmage.

Alex Smith dropped back to pass and took a fumble-forcing sack when Kyle Vanden Bosch beat left tackle Joe Staley around the corner. This was exactly how the 49ers opened their 2009 game at Minnesota a couple years ago, except then it was Jared Allen getting the fumble-forcing sack against Shaun Hill.

Why play into the Lions' strengths on the first play of the game? I'm sure the 49ers' coaches had their reasons. Perhaps Smith changed the play based on the front he saw from the Lions. No matter. The 49ers needed to minimize the chances for mistakes early, and that meant they needed to either get rid of the ball immediately on a quick pass or pound away on the ground.