49ers Got the Touch
With this victory, the San Francisco 49ers alleviate any doubts and reservations that they are playoff contenders. They are undefeated on the road and beat the Decepti- -I mean Detroit Lions in hostile territory. In what Jim Harbaugh described as “a bar fight,” the game was filled with excitement, tension, and drama. After all was said and done, the 49ers stood as the Lions fell. Since the New Orleans Saints lost on Sunday, a case can be made the 49ers are now the second best team in the NFC. I’m sure most experts won’t make that jump, just yet at least. With the ever-important win before the bye, the 49ers must now focus on winning after it. They can’t allow this break to soften their resolve. Some might scoff at the Cleveland Browns and write them off, but that’s a real easy way to lose a game.
It seems the defense has decided to take it upon themselves to dominate games and put the offense in a good position to score. While they give up their fair share of passing yards, the rushing defense has given up a meager 74.7 yards per game. Without a running game to run time off the board, the Lions forced Matthew Stafford to throw 50 passes, and get sacked five times in the process. I absolutely love the pressure they are bringing. The Lions brought a lot of pressure as well and were poised to wreak havoc after the first play for the 49ers. Although Alex Smith was credited with the lost fumble, Joe Staley didn’t even give him a chance to throw. To defend Staley a little, Kyle Vanden Bosch did get a fantastic jump on the snap. The offensive line settled down however, only allowing two sacks to a relentless squad.
Calvin Johnson caught seven passes for 113 yards which is a good stat line, but he didn’t score. Holding Megatron without a touchdown is something that no team had been able to do. This was the end of the road for his impressive nine touchdowns in five games streak. Fortunately, it appeared the Lions’ game plan was to use TE Brandon Pettigrew against Patrick Willis. Willis is known for his solid tackling, but the Lions hoped to exploit his cover skills. Willis was not overwhelmed and rose to the challenge. Pettigrew caught eight passes, but was targeted 14. The best linebacker in the league did a pretty good job defending Pettigrew while the safeties kept an eye on Johnson.
Frank Gore dominated on the ground, rushing for 141 yards. Once again the running backs helped control the game while Alex Smith connected on 17 of his 32 passes. It was not a great game for Smith who meagerly passed the 100 yard mark. A lot of his passes sailed high. Michael Crabtree, who actually looked good out there, had to jump for all of them. (I knew the lad had potential.) The issue led to his second interception of the year. But he made the one that counted, the one that won the game. Kudos to Delanie Walker for crossing the end zone plane before his knee touched the ground. I couldn’t celebrate the touchdown until after the replay because I wasn’t sure if he had or not.
With every victory, I see a more and more complete team. David Akers and Andy Lee are probably the best kicking combination in the league, and Ted Ginn Jr. is contributing with end arounds to go along with his stellar kick returning ability. The defense of course is one of the best, and are only getting better. And because the running game can take control of each game, all Smith has to do is not turn the ball over. The 15 penalties should be a concern however. That’s something that will come back and haunt the 49ers if they don’t fix that problem.
Everyone has heard about how Harbaugh tried to crush Jim Schwartz with his bare hands, so I won’t add much to it. I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as the media is trying to make it. The handshake looked like the congratulatory handshakes he was giving to his staff, he was too excited celebrating his team’s win for formality.
5-1 is great and all, but there are still 10 games left. The best part about that is, the 49ers still have a game against the Seattle Seahawks, and two games against both the Arizona Cardinals and winless St. Louis Rams. There’s still a ton of football left to play, but for the first time in nearly a decade, our team is in control of their own destiny.
I’d like to thank my friend Brain Hayden for customizing the picture of 49ermus Prime vs. Megatron. Now to get him to do a customized action figure.
Follow me on Twitter @jarrod49ersnews