Monday, September 10, 2012

One Down, Fifteen To Go

What can you say about a game where your star tight end gets rejected by the crossbar while attempting a post-TD celebratory dunk...and your placekicker's end-of-the-half 63-yarder hits the same crossbar...and goes over?

You can say the odds are in your favor. And if you're the San Francisco 49ers, you're feeling pretty good about things after going into Lambeau Field and beating the Packers 30-22.  The 49ers were simply the better team and Alex Smith continued to prove that he has arrived as a first-tier NFL quarterback. Is he Aaron Rodgers' equal? Let's not go there; it's a pointless debate. Can the 49ers win behind Alex Smith? Well, they've won 15 of their last 19 games with Smith at the helm. Case closed.

The 49ers won with execution and with creativity. Fullback Bruce Miller was deployed as a wide receiver on one play. A first-quarter blitz brought both cornerbacks and gave Carlos Rogers the first sack of his career. Second-half defensive packages often took star linebacker Patrick Willis off the field. Colin Kaepernick's one play produced a 17-yard sprint for a first down.

Questions were answered. Newly-acquired wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham combined for 8 catches, 76 yards, and a TD (Moss), proving that the 49ers now have a fleet of wideouts to go with Vernon Davis. Playoff goat Kyle Williams was flawless on punt duty; he caught everything and picked up 20 yards the only time he eschewed the fair catch. Frank Gore hasn't lost a step entering his 8th pro season; he ripped Green Bay for 112 yards, including a dagger-to-the-heart 23-yard TD blast in the 4th quarter.

It would be safe to bet that these two teams will see each other again during playoff season. If--and it's always a big "if" in the NFL--everyone stays healthy, you have to think the 49ers would have the edge. And that sure beats the alternative.

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