For one night, the 49ers looked like the team Mike Singletary envisioned before the season.
San Francisco rushed for 261 yards in a convincing 27-6 victory over the Cardinals. Brian Westbrook had a game to remember with 136 yards on 23, carries often running through gigantic holes. He had nine yards on the season going into the game, but San Francisco lost Frank Gore to a hip injury after only five carries. (UPDATE: Gore is out for the season.)
49ers quarterback Troy Smith just had to hand the ball off and let his strong defense do the rest. Derek Anderson led the Cardinals to only eight first downs. Beanie Wells had five carries for 13 yards and Arizona only held the ball for 21 minutes.
It should serve as some comfort to 49ers fans that the Cardinals are the biggest mess in the messiest division in football. After winning three of four games, San Francisco is only one game out of first at 4-7.
San Francisco’s path to the playoffs remains an uphill climb with road games in Green Bay and San Diego still to come. But playing at Lambeau is a problem for another day — Sunday.
For one day, the 49ers can enjoy a road win over their biggest division rival.
They can enjoy being in a playoff race. (Even if it feels like more of a light jog.)