The 49ers showed they belong in the conversation with the best teams in the league with a thrilling 36-32 victory yesterday. Some might even call the game a shootout, which barely anyone would expect the 49ers to be able to even manage, let alone pull out a victory against New Orleans. The Saints have one of the highest powered, explosive offenses the NFL has ever seen. Quarterback Drew Brees and their offense have set records all season long. The Saints came up against a 49ers defense that has dominated all year and which has also set records all season long. Could a modern day team like the Saints be stopped by a throwback 49ers team that likes to play sound, fundamental football? The answer was shouted loud and clear with the outcome of yesterday’s game. Yes, the 49ers can compete with any team in the league. They will not beat themselves anymore. They will force teams to take chances and risks, and then capitalize on any mistakes made. They will impose their will because they believe they can.
49ers quarterback and infamous whipping boy Alex Smith may have wiped the slate clean and erased the ugly career he had previous to this season in one game. Alex Smith and Vernon Davis were heroic football players against the Saints. Smith, who has only 5 interceptions all season, played another mistake free game. He compiled 299 yards, had no turnovers and finished with a quarterback rating of 103. He had stated in the week leading up to the game that Drew Brees can pass for all the yards he wants to just as long as the 49ers outscore the Saints. This is exactly what happened as Brees passed for over 400 yards in 63 attempts but also threw two interceptions and was hit hard throughout the game. Alex Smith had just one rushing attempt in this game, on a terrific play call that caught New Orleans off guard. Smith took off on a quarterback keeper and ran 28 yards into the end zone to give the 49ers a short lasting lead in the 4th quarter. After the Saints reclaimed the lead with 1:37 left in the game the 49ers had one last drive in them. A long pass to Vernon Davis, a quick pass to Frank Gore and the 49ers were in the striking distance. Smith then hit Davis in the end zone for the game winning score in what Davis dubbed “The Grab.” Vernon Davis sprinted off in tears and embraced Coach Jim Harbaugh in what for Vernon was probably a moment of jubilation, relief, and a lifting of a mountain that had been on his shoulder for his entire career. One cannot underestimate the meaning of this victory for players like Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis. Three players who are each near the top of the entire league at their position but have been playing for teams that finished each and every year at the bottom of the league. And Alex Smith, after being booed by his home fans throughout last season, after being constantly and sometimes fairly criticized for being the weakest link on the 49ers, coming through in the clutch when it mattered most will cement him in greatness for a very long time.
The 49ers are officially back. Maybe now people will start paying attention and taking notice that “NOOOOBODY” has it better than us.