- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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What it means: The 49ers improved to 3-1 while easing concerns that arose following a 24-13 defeat at Minnesota the previous week. They showed they could impose their formula for winning on a lesser opponent, controlling the game with a creative rushing attack and smothering defense. They also put themselves in very favorable position heading into a three-game homestand.
What I liked: The 49ers showed creativity and variety in the their ground game. They mixed second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick into the game plan and got a first-half touchdown run from him. Earlier, a 17-yard run from Kaepernick helped change field position. The 49ers even ran an option play featuring Alex Smith pitching to Kyle Williams for a 9-yard gain in the red zone. An end-around to receiver Mario Manningham produced a 28-yard gain. These types of plays, run from an ever-changing selection of personnel groupings and formations, defined the 49ers last season.
Smith was effective throwing outside the yard-line numbers to Manningham and Delanie Walker. He entered this game having completed 31 of 46 passes for 323 yards with four touchdowns and no picks when throwing outside the numbers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The trend seemed to continue.
On defense, the 49ers shut down the Jets' rushing attack despite playing without starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. They made the Jets one-dimensional and prevented quarterback Mark Sanchez from functioning at even a mediocre level. Sanchez was averaging 4.4 yards per pass attempt with a 41 completion percentage when Frank Gore essentially put away the game with a 2-yard scoring run for a 17-0 lead with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter.
The decision to run the ball with Gore on fourth-and-1 from the 2 paid off when Gore scored for that 17-0 lead. I would have liked the call even if the 49ers had fallen short. Their defense was dominating. Sanchez wasn't going to lead a 98- or 99-yard touchdown drive in that situation, most likely.
What I didn't like: Gore had a hard time getting going. He had only 39 yards on his first 14 rushes, with none of those rushes covering longer than 6 yards. Gore did have success late in the game as the 49ers pounded away to protect their lead. San Francisco's offense struggled on third down, counter to gains made in that area over the previous two games.
Interesting call: The Jets' Santonio Holmes suffered an injury and, in retrospect, was giving himself up when he flipped the ball to the ground following a reception. No 49ers defender had touched him, however, and the 49ers' Carlos Rogers returned the ball for a touchdown. Had Holmes given himself up on the play? Those are judgment calls, and in this case, officials said the play remained live. The play gave the 49ers a 24-0 lead.
What's next: The 49ers face the Buffalo Bills at Candlestick Park.