Monday, September 10, 2012
Around the NFC West: Dominant 49ers
By Mike Sando
Some of the potential storylines considered this offseason failed to show up Sunday.
It was only one week, but if we're going to take anything from the first round of 2012 games involving NFC West teams, let it be this: San Francisco remains the class of the division.
The best and/or most productive quarterback, running back, receivers, tight end and defense in the division belonged to the 49ers during their 30-22 victory over Green Bay. Having kicker David Akers tie an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal was nice, too.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News thinks 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was the best quarterback at Lambeau on this day, better even than Aaron Rodgers. Kawakami: "This wasn't the new Alex Smith on display here Sunday, this was the old one. This was the University of Utah Alex Smith, the quarterback in total control, relaxed, ready, brainy and dangerous. ... This is an Alex Smith who can win big games. Huge games. Almost every game." Noted: Smith posted an 83.5 out of 100 in Total QBR, one of the highest marks in the NFL for Week 1 (and considerably higher than the 55.1 for Rodgers). More on that later.
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' coaching staff had all the right moves against Green Bay: purposeful formations and personnel groupings, the right sub packages on defense and a feel for when to throw a changeup such as the draw play featuring backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Cohn: "The Packers offense was predictable and cautious and, frankly, ragged. And for much of the game, Aaron Rodgers slumped around the field with bad body language in the throes of frustration. He was frustrated because the 49ers did brilliant things to make him grumpy in the extreme."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Smith's careful handling of the football was pivotal to the game's outcome. Also, it looks like Rodgers will be wearing 49ers red soon. Barrows: "According to the gossip show TMZ, during the offseason Rodgers made a bet with Boyz II Men member Nathan Morris, who is a longtime 49ers fan. If Boyz II Men sang the national anthem at Sunday's game, they agreed, Rodgers would do something humiliating if the Packers lost: He'd wear an Alex Smith 49ers jersey this week."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com explains why the 49ers felt OK taking inside linebacker Patrick Willis off the field against Green Bay. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio: "It's difficult to take him (Willis) off the field. But it's either that or he has to line up on a receiver sometimes, which he did a couple of times."
Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers tickets for the team's future stadium are selling briskly. Rosenberg: "In three months, the Niners have sold 26,520 seats in the upper deck, end zones and corners -- 52 percent of those sections -- amounting to more than the entire capacity of HP Pavilion or Oracle Arena. Interestingly, most of the seats remaining are the cheaper 'nosebleeds.' On the pricier side, the Niners since January have sold 70 percent of their club seats, which cost as much as a new car, and since 2011 have sold nearly three-fourths of their luxury suites, which can cost as much as a new house."
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' ability to stop the run from their nickel and dime defenses gave them great flexibility. Cornerback Tarell Brown: "I think we have a team to be reckoned with. I think we have a team that's on the borderline of being a great team."
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle says it's tough to call Smith a game manager in the condescending sense.