Sunday, October 9, 2011
Rapid Reaction: 49ers 48, Buccaneers 3
By Mike Sando
SAN FRANCISCO -- Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 48-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Week 5 matchup Sunday at Candlestick Park:
What it means: The 49ers are 4-1 for the first time since 2002 and there is nothing flukey about their fast start unless Alex Smith suddenly diverts from the script. They were smarter, more precise and more physical than the Bucs throughout this game. Winning this game bought insurance for the 49ers heading into their Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions.
What I liked: Smith played with poise and ran the offense with purpose. He kept his eyes downfield when rolling out. He stared down pressure and delivered passes accurately, including the one tight end Vernon Davis turned into a 23-yard touchdown. Smith appears comfortable with what Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman are asking him to do. Smith wasn't dinking and dunking all the time, either. He found Delanie Walker for a 26-yard touchdown on a pass caught in the end zone. Receiver Michael Crabtree contributed with receptions and with several key blocks, including one to spring Joshua Morgan for a 24-yard gain. Running back Frank Gore also fared well, topping 100 yards rushing. The defense appeared confident in its assignments, as when Carlos Rogers jumped a route and scored on a 31-yard interception return. Rookie Chris Culliver also jumped a route for a pick when he knew the team had safety help for him.
What I didn't like: Smith and receiver Kyle Williams appeared out of sync on a deep pass down the right sideline. Either that, or Smith simply threw into coverage and underthrew the pass. Williams broke up what could have been an interception. Smith threw behind Crabtree in the end zone another time, nearly resulting in a pick. Smith appeared to be expecting Crabtree to adjust his route.
Tight ends emphasized: The 49ers lined up with two and even three tight ends frequently and with great effect. The team's top two tight ends, Davis and Walker, caught touchdown passes. The 49ers lined up with guard Adam Snyder and tackle Alex Boone, plus Davis, fullback Bruce Miller and Gore. Snyder lined up ahead of Miller and Gore in an I-formation, with Snyder motioning to the right side of the formation next to Boone. These plays didn't always produce gains, but they accurately conveyed the 49ers' mindset.
Streaking: The 49ers have won three games in a row during the same season for the first time since 2007.
One for the books: The margin of victory was the 49ers' largest since a 48-0 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in 1987.
Injuries of note: The 49ers lost starting receiver Joshua Morgan to a leg injury late in the game. Teammates seemed to know this was a serious injury. They gathered around Morgan on the field and helped carry him off the field to a waiting cart. The 49ers are already without receiver Braylon Edwards until sometime around midseason.
What's next: The 49ers visit the Lions in Week 6.