Late Bills turnover looms large as 49ers lead 17-3 at half


The biggest play on the stat sheet in the first half of the Bills-49ers game in San Francisco is Alex Smith’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Williams.

If not for penalties, there would be several others. There was a 21-yard pass to Vernon Davis wiped out by a holding call, a 41-yarder to Michael Crabtree erased by an illegal chop block and, most painfully for the Bills, an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown by Leodis McKelvin nullified by a hold during the return. All the yellow laundry has helped keep the scoring low and, even with that McKelvin play wiped out, that helped keep the Bills in the game for most of the first half.

The Niners have outgained them by nearly 200 yards — 320 to 124 — and they seem to constantly be on the verge of scoring. As long as they weren’t putting points on the board, the Bills still had a chance to turn the game with one big play.

Their inability to take advantage of an opportunity handed to them by the Niners might have taken that chance away. The 49ers got creative with Colin Kapernick taking a reverse from Smith after lining up as a wide receiver and then coughing up the ball after a hit by safety George Wilson. That killed a drive that was making its way into the red zone with just under a minute to play and seemed to assure that the score would remain 10-3 49ers when the teams headed to the locker room.

The Bills decided to try to move the ball in scoring position, though, and tight end Scott Chandler fumbled after a hit by Patrick Willis, who has played very well, and the 49ers scored again on a 28-yard pass from Smith to Crabtree to open up a 17-3 lead. That score is more indicative of how one-sided the game has been and could point to a 4-1 start for the Niners.