In case there was any doubt, the 49ers are the class of the NFC West.
The Cardinals had a chance to make a statement on Monday night in Arizona, but the 49ers came to town and came out swinging, jumping out to an early lead and never looking back on the way to an easy 24-3 win. The victory improves the 49ers’ record to 6-2, and they’re now two games ahead of both the Cardinals and the Seahawks in the NFC West, and the 49ers have the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over both teams as well. Only a complete collapse over the second half of the season can keep the 49ers from winning the division.
And these 49ers don’t look like there’s any danger of a collapse. Quarterback Alex Smith had his best game, running the offense just about flawlessly while completing 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. There had been talk heading into tonight’s game that Smith was falling out of favor in San Francisco, and possibly even that he should be looking over his shoulder at backup Colin Kaepernick. Instead, Kaepernick watched from the sideline as Smith turned in a brilliant game.
The 49ers also got big games from receiver Michael Crabtree, running backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, and even the 35-year-old Randy Moss, who looked like he had found a fountain of youth when he caught a short pass and raced 47 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
The Cardinals’ offense was a disaster, with quarterback John Skelton only moving the ball effectively late in the game when the 49ers had already put it out of reach. And the 49ers totally shut down the Cardinals’ running game.
Arizona started the season 4-0 and looked like a playoff contender, but things change quickly in the NFL. The Cardinals are now 4-4, and the 49ers are the only team in the NFC West that looks like a contender.