Sunday night wrap-up: 49ers kicking it old school

Getty Images

The handshake was anti-climactic, a civil exchange that wouldn’t have been worth mentioning without the context.

It was the bludgeoning Jim Harbaugh’s guys gave Jim Schwartz’s on the field that made this one noteworthy.

The 49ers pounded the Lions into submission in prime time, sending a message that they’re still going to win games by being more physical than your side.

The 49ers ran for 148 yards in a 27-19 win over the Lions, with Frank Gore looking like a young man again and pacing the offense.

They also held a potent offense to four Jason Hanson field goals for the meaningful 58 minutes, bullying the Lions at the line of scrimmage.

It’s become fashionable to say it’s a passing league, as if minimizing old ways takes away their effectiveness. But the two most dominant-looking teams of the day were the 49ers and the Texans, who get it done in the old style.

You might not want to watch it every week, but when it’s executed well, it’s still an impressive thing to watch.

Here are five more things we learned on Sunday Night Football:

1. Alex Smith has grown beyond being compared to a Trent Dilfer-style handler, whose only job is to not screw it up.

He makes plays occasionally, and he even bled for good measure. Those third-down conversions late were beautifully designed and beautifully executed.

But the beauty of Smith in this offense isn’t what he does, it’s what they don’t bother asking him to do, and him being OK with that.

He’s got an average arm, but makes up for it by throwing (and not throwing) at the right time.

He’s a prime example of the fit being more important than the talent, and he and Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman fit together perfectly.

They could do different things with a better player, but Smith has also grown to the point where they’re able to work with him.

2. The Lions are missing something on offense.

It’s easy to pin it on suspended running back Mikel Leshoure, who will return next week.

But if not him, it needs to be someone. They need some degree of balance, and the cast of characters they’re using at the moment (Kevin Smith, Joique Bell) aren’t getting it done.

Leshoure would probably suffice. In a perfect world, they could use him in tandem with Jahvid Best, still on the PUP list because of his post-concussion issues. Best’s ability as a pass-catcher out of the backfield would be especially useful on third down, where the Lions struggled so much early.

3. Harbaugh can talk about No. 1 receivers all he wants. It’s his fullbacks and tight ends that make his offense go.

Vernon Davis is a matchup nightmare, and not just for the Lions. I’m not sure (short of a young Dennis Rodman) who is capable of covering this guy.

But Delanie Walker’s role as the move tight end/fullback shouldn’t be overlooked.  He doesn’t turn up in box scores often, but he’s excellent at rooting out linebackers.

He had a number of tooth-rattling blocks that made Frank Gore look faster than he really is, and rarely gets mention. Consider this a small step toward catching up.

4. Speaking of which, Randy Moss gets a lot of credit from opposing defensive backs. Why is another question.

He had four catches for 47 yards and a score last week, one for 14 against the Lions.

This isn’t the Moss that can knock the top off a defense, but they sure play him that way when he’s on the field.

5. Matt Stafford is a very good quarterback.

Matt Stafford threw some very bad balls.

His first half pick was quacking before Dashon Goldson got his hands on it, and he threw a few in the dirt as well. He also locks onto Calvin Johnson to the exclusion of other targets.

Maybe it was windy, or maybe the 49ers forced him to look more erratic than he actually is. Either way, he did not leave this one looking good.

55 responses to “Sunday night wrap-up: 49ers kicking it old school

  1. What a god awful football game overall. Color me unimpressed by both teams. Stafford seems to be in a state of regression. The Packers and Seahawks will win those respective divisions in my humble estimation. Hopefully next Sunday Night’s matchup is entertaining.

  2. And we’ll keep the side door open for all those Randy Moss fans who overslept the last four years.

  3. All this week & off season talking trash about how your team was going to win & now SHUT UP & EAT!!!

    Their is plenty of crow too go around!! Please don’t leave the dinner table until you finish all that CROW on your plates & that includes the feathers!!

  4. Stafford lost us that game. you can’t throw that poorly against a good d. seriously though, that officiating was crazy. It didn’t change the outcome of the game but they should have called about 100 more penalties on each team. I guess we don’t project the qb anymore…

  5. May not have been the most exciting game but I think the 9ers affirmed their status as team to beat in the NFC. Alex smith is plenty good enough to “manage” this team to a super bowl win.

  6. We got spanked by the Niners. Gore and Vernon Davis were great. Stafford could have and should have played better.

    The refs were awful – it went both ways (Lions can’t blame the loss of the refs), but it was really bad. Stafford and Smith both took hits after they slid. Niners got to run a play after the clock ran out on the 1st quarter. NFL Network has been talking about how DBs are getting away with everything, and we saw a lot of that tonight.

    Hard to win with 5 FG attempts and no TD until the final two minutes (when the other team is playing prevent).

  7. Better than your Redskins Vocieofreason. I personally love watching the 49ers play football. Besides the Eagles (since they are my team) the 49ers are my favorite team to watch. They have the NFL’s best defense and it’s not even close, the Steelers and Ravens are living more off reputation now.

    Now that Alex Smith is even more comfortable in Harbaugh’s scheme (amazing what two years with the same offensive coordinator will do for you huh?) the offense is more than just a compliment to the defense they can win games for that team.

  8. Cut Stafford some slack. Our defense is pretty damn good and I imagine some teams could psyche themselves out when they see the Niners on the schedule. It’s saying something when you can make Aaron Rodgers look like a chump. Taking bets now for a Texans/Niners Superbowl. Patriots, the Cardinals? Really?

  9. What’s crazy is the Lions fans were saying that they were going to “blow out” the niners (funktron excluded).

    The packers still own the north, the rankings and reasons as follows:

    Packers : Soundly beat a good team and lost to a great team.

    Bears : Beat a terrible team and lost to a great team.

    Lions : Barely beat a bad team (and should have lost), and lost to a great team.

    Vikings : Barely beat a terrible team, lost to a terrible team.

  10. I thought both teams looked pretty good, the 49ers obviously better but I wasn’t unhappy as a Lions fan. They really do look like the best team in the NFC (or football for that matter), and it isn’t just their defense. For those upset about the game, imagine what any team would look like without their top THREE players at any position. Go ahead. Who can handle that? What team could possibly survive Drayton Florence and Jacob Lacey with a special teams safety as the primary backfield players?

  11. Quick observations from this game:

    1. The Lions are a pretty good team. They have holes in the secondary due to injuries, and they have to get better on 3rd downs and of course the wham blocking scheme. Matt Stafford didn’t have his driver with him tonight, so he has to get more consistent with his short game (throwing short routes with two deep safeties over the top). Disappointing, but I thought they were a C+ tonight.

    2. The 49ers are an ELITE TEAM! Superbowl caliber, will run it down your throat then kill you with the play action and our defense will take away your best options kind of team. No team is perfect, but Harbaugh’s squad is built for January. No finesse, no fluff, no trick plays…what a physical masterpiece tonight. A+.

    Hopefully my Lions will see them again because as of this moment the NFC North is wide open!


  12. Hopefully next Sunday Night’s matchup is entertaining.

    – Yeah, because it was sterling football played by the Patriots and Ravens today.

  13. Good game. A lot of bad ref calls however. Missing blatant picks. Whatever happened to not hitting a QB in the head as they’re going into a slide. But, good thing they called the same for both teams.

  14. to all my niners faithful…i know you guys loved the first win against the lions and then their fans were making excuses and they get a second chance at the niners again and still make excuses and talk smack lol…this second win feels 100 times better than the first win…GO NINERS…like harbaugh says…humble hearts but forget all that because all that smack talking lion fans did doesn’t deserve any humility. In addition whats up with this circus clown name VOICESINYOURHEAD, he has to be schizophrenic because he thinks RG3 is God but he lost to the rams…those delusions of grandeur you’re going through means the prescription pills aren’t working…GO NINERS!!!!!

  15. The 49ers played some pretty sound football. Not lighting it up much, but very few mistakes. They very much could be the kings of the NFC. Next week against my Vikes will be hard to watch.

  16. Ha ha loser, Your team got punched in the face today by the Rams. Guess what? The NFC West is 4-0 today. Sorry if your ADD doesn’t allow you to appreciate real football, but both team tonight would smash the skins into oblivion.

    Good game Lions fans. Detroit is a good team.

  17. What a god awful football game overall. Color me unimpressed by both teams. Stafford seems to be in a state of regression. The Packers and Seahawks will win those respective divisions in my humble estimation. Hopefully next Sunday Night’s matchup is entertaining.

    Yeah, because your Redskins just tooootally light the world on fire week in and week out…jeeze. When will you ever give credit to another team besides your own?

  18. Voice of reason i believe you are bitter from last week your pack were given a score and still couldn’t get it done, stop hating the niners are for real…..

  19. Yeah stafford seems to only show up in the fourth quarter and that kills the lions..who already have a poor secondary that can’t tackle worth a damn.

  20. Congratulation to the 49ers. They played the better game. And they should have won. The Lions didn’t have their two best running backs and their whole starting secondary is out hurt. AND the 49ers were playing at home. But the Lions made a game of it. I thought Hairbough was going to cry when the Lions had a shot at the onside kick at the end of the game. He was so scared I think he shat his pants. There will be more meetings ahead.

  21. I don’t think youget it, Gantt. Alex Smith had 1st round talent coming into the league, but he suffered for years from “paralysis by analysis.” He never had the opportunity to become comfortable in an offense and was always hesitant to pull the trigger because of his instinct to protect the football.

    Urban Meyer, Norv Turner, and Mike Martz have all said Smith had the talent to be a good NFL quarterback, so long as he had some continuity. To say that he has an “average” arm is as over-simplified analysis of a QB as there is.

    He’s not Aaron Rodgers or Matt Stafford, but Alex Smith, at 28 years old, is playing the quarterback position at a extremely high level. After all the crap the guy’s taken, it’s time some of you “pundits” at least give him the respect he’s earned.

    If Smith is a “system quarterback,” then Frank Gore is a “system running back.” You seem to have suggested that, so I’ll give you credit for at least being consistent.

  22. Voiceofreason you are a true hater, Give credit where its due. The Niners are the best team in the league bar none with Houston in a close second. I can remember you saying earlier in the week how the Lions were gonna smash the Niners. Harbaugh is working on Coach of the Year and you Sir are working on 236(and counting) readers nerves…..

    Top five teams in the NFL
    1. SF
    2. Houston
    3. GB
    4. Philly
    5. New England

    Niners 4 Life……

  23. for the second straight week, the 9ers beat both their opponent AND the refs. I’m going to laugh out loud reading Lions fans try to blame getting dominated on the officiating, when they would have gotten blown out of the stadium if no errors were made.

    Jim Schwanz’s (look it up in German) whiny, dirty, cheap-shotting attitude hasn’t just trickled down to his team, you can see it in the way their fans act now too. whether you like Harbaugh or not, you can’t say his team isn’t disciplined and ready to play every week. by contrast, the Lions led the NFL in personal foul penalties last year by averaging around 2 per game.

    don’t look now, but the NFC West is 6-2…

  24. Wow. Just wow.
    Seahawks win the division? Watch much football buddy? I don’t see many teams messing around on the Niners this year. And I don’t want to admit that because I HATE the Niners.
    That run game just cannot be stopped. Meanwhile, their D just slammed two 5,000 yard passers.

  25. How was this unimpressive Mr reason? Because a very physical San Fran team proved their muscle and Detroit, who had NO business being in the game at the end like they were, proved with another offensive weapon to get people off CJ they can make for a spectacular NFCCG rematch coming up.

  26. 9ers are tough, hats off to them.

    They look really well the last 2 weeks.

    I didn’t expect the Cards to be neck and neck with them, but any given Sunday.

    Having 11 player return on defense, is a huge advantage for them and it has shown.

    These scrub refs have been terrible though. I am not reffering to this game so much, just looking at the work as a whole from what I saw these last two weeks, and it is truely frustrating, especially when hearing things like intentional grounding, replay the down. Extremely inconsintant calls, making it hard for hurry up teams to find rythem

    They need to get it right and soon.

  27. @voiceofreasonsays

    Dude, I think it’s time for you to concede that talking about football isn’t your thing.

    If you feel like you still want your opinions to matter, and you aren’t getting enough attention from your friends and family, I recommend volunteering at a nursing home to talk to lonely retirees.

    You just better hope none of them know anything about football or you’ll be back to square one.

  28. @voiceofreason What really you must just be a hater which is typical The lions looked terriable cause the niners defense made them look that way. Stafford was always under pressure the niners secondary left no one opened. The 9ers 3rd corner culliver would be most teams starter. Whinter and Goldson are becoming if not already are the best safety tandem in the game. Along with without a doubt already the best LB corp in the game and top 3 DL they are so talented so well coached it’s amazing it’s not like the 9ers have beat 2 mediocre teams they beat what most people considered best team in league in packers than beat very good lions team. You make me sick when you said Seattle will win division why you can’t just say something why. 9ers will win cause of defense Seattle cannot stop run which niners will stop Lynch cause that’s what 9ers do is shut runners down Seattle isn’t good on defense to stop are run game or pass game R. Wilson will have no one to throw to and if we can stop Rodgers running and passing than a 3rd rate rodgers in Wilson than we have no problem and Seattle has a nuch worse off oline than packers have are defense will dominate Wilson and there defense cannot guard all are weapons. There decent defense but there LB corp very very average which means can’t stop run and has no one big enough to cover Davis who is a machine. CB are to small oh and are coaching staff will by far out coach the 2 time NFL loser as a coach in Carrol who Harbaugh owns anyway so feel free to actually give a reason that makes sense and won’t make you sound like an idiot. But you did make me laugh thanks.

  29. Matthew Stafford has thrown 2 TD to 4 INT this year, has a starting QB record of 14-17, and has never won a playoff game.

    Before his monster last year his TD to INT ratio was 19-21.

    If he is a very good QB, Michael Vick is a GOD.

  30. Harbaugh crapping his pants?!?! Hahaha please..SF wasn’t afraid of the Lions and neither was their coach ..but if that’s your moral victory so be it

  31. 49ers fans have a right to crow…until the playoffs once Alex Smith craps the bed..again

    In addition to realizing that Harbaugh’s ego not only cost them a Super Bowl birth, but likely a Super Bowl Championship.

  32. It’s week 2! Let’s rollback the super bowl plans a bit. YES the 9ers are a very good team, let’s see them beat a few teams with an actual secondary before we go crowning them.

  33. therealbleedcoltsblue:

    and Peyton Manning threw 28 picks and lost 13 games his first season so whats your point?

    Mannings first 16 games 26td 28int 3-13

    Staffords first 16 games 19td 21int 3-13

  34. Crazy that the refs didn’t call the cheap shot on Alex when he slid late in the 4th (where he got the bloody nose) He slid feet first then took an elbow to the face. They call a holding penalty but not the personal foul right in front of their noses?

  35. Niners kind of remind me of the Colts when Manning won the SB. Completely different styles of play, but it’s almost like a well-oiled machine that can’t be stopped.

  36. I’m tired of hearing that these refs are doing a great job from all the sports networks the refs are inconsistent and take forever to make calls not to mention throwing random flags and calling penalties no one else sees its getting ridiculous! It goes on throughout the league

  37. It’s become fashionable to say it’s a passing league


    Yeah but that’s just BS. The league has average more than 50% passing in every season since 1980. What year do imagine there was the largest % of passing? 2011? 2010? No it was 1994! The pass happiest year in the NFL was in 1994. Who pays these media types who say this crap. Trends will be trends. After the pass happy mid 90’s the trend switched and you had run first teams win Super Bowls in 1997-2005, except in 1999 when the Rams beat the run first Titans by a yard. Let’s quit with all the statistical philosophy and admit that it’s a copy cat league for the most part and nothing more. Just like the spread offense. It’s supposed to be the new greatest thing. But I remember spread influenced offenses back 20 years ago. Anyone remember the late 80’s/early 90’s Oilers, Lions & Falcons?

  38. The Lion ARE missing something!!! He got that one right. That defense was never going to be No. 1 in the leauge, but out offensive attack has to do SOMETHING or we’ll be 8-8 only beating teams who aren’t going anywhere again this year…

  39. Being a fan of Boise State, I recognize the dismissal of those from “power conferences” as they snub their noses. It has gotten to the point where I root for all the teams on our schedule to win convincingly against every opponent but us. That way, when my team beats them, and they beat up on everyone else, it proves how dominant my team is.

    I have the same feelings for the NFC West this year. Unless they are playing the 49ers, I want those guys to win every game! I am tired of all the talk of the 9ers being in such a weak division. This week, these “Little sisters of the poor” flexed their muscles a little, didn’t they?

  40. “. NFL Network has been talking about how DBs are getting away with everything, and we saw a lot of that tonight.”

    I wouldn’t say everything but they are letting them get away with a lot more and I for one LOVE it. There is nothing more aggravating then watching the old refs throw a pass interference flag for every little touch. Let them go out there and play the game like it was meant to be played and not have the refs determine the outcome of the game so much.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.