Monday, October 31, 2011
Around the NFC West: 49ers just win, baby
By Mike Sando
If San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh can channel late Raiders owner Al Davis, as he did following a victory against Tampa Bay weeks ago, the theme certainly applied Sunday.
A 20-10 victory against Cleveland showed another way the 49ers could win a game.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' ability to find left tackle Joe Staley for a 17-yard gain and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga for an 18-yarder reflected a team in full swagger mode. Kawakami: "Designing pass plays -- and then pulling them off -- for left tackle Joe Staley and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga are precisely the sorts of things that get a sideline and locker room roaring at full intensity. When you pull off two of those plays in a single game, and you win that game to go 6-1, that’s a sign of a team at full engine power, absolutely revving it up, and dying to push it two or three gears higher."
Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says Frank Gore's patience was a big problem for the Browns, as linebacker D'Qwell Jackson noted: "It's just so tough. He's just so patient. He has those big offensive linemen in front of him, and he understands what the offense is trying to get done when they run the ball. And he waits to make his moves. Like I say, he's just so patient." Gore did aggravate an ankle injury against the Browns, but he returned to the game.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' pass plays for Staley and Sopoaga impressed the Browns.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was efficient, but hardly spectacular -- following along with Smith's play throughout this season. Smith: "When you play quarterback, you're just trying to win games. That's all I care about. I don't care about style points, how I'm doing it, as long as we're winning. ... This was a team that was second against the pass in the NFL and 19th against the run. And we aren't going to be cookie cutter. You're going to try to play to your strengths and where we match up against them. We felt like we had some good matchups in the run game, and I think we really exploited them in the first half."
Also from Maiocco: Vernon Davis returned to the game with an arm injury and was not expected to miss any time.
More from Maiocco: Staley said he was nervous about going out for pass because he had not caught one in a game since early in college. Maiocco: "Staley was recruited to Central Michigan as a tight end, but current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly moved him to offensive tackle after his freshman year. Staley said he was so upset he thought about transferring. This was the first week that the play had been worked on during practice. And Staley said he did not have to lobby for his chance to get in the spotlight." Staley said he worked on a first-down dance and a touchdown dance at his home during the week, just in case.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Ahmad Brooks was a little woozy after losing his helmet en route to collecting a sack, but the outside linebacker thought the tradeoff was worth it.
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Harbaugh compared the 49ers' victory to a bar fight. Cohn envisions "the Harbaugh brothers coming to the aid of a fair damsel over by the jukebox which is playing 'Ramblin' Man' by the Allman Brothers. And Jim and John just cream some foul-speaking miscreant and then finish their Buds and ride into the night in a Chevy pickup. I can even see the bar. It's definitely not a wine bar in Sausalito. ... And it's not a biker bar. It's a neighborhood bar with Bud on tap and two pinball machines and one pool table and one Foosball table. The bar is pure Harbaugh."