San Francisco 49ers: 5 Things We Learned from the Win over the New York Jets
After a brief early-season hiatus, the San Francisco 49ers are back—and ready to unleash on an unsuspecting opponents.
The New York Jets were such the vacant adversary in an unquestionable romp at the hands of the 49ers. They suffered a blowout defeat at MetLife Stadium on Sunday by a final score of 34-0.
A raucous home crowd proved inconsequential for the visiting 49ers. After a few scuffles on the opening drives, Jim Harbaugh’s club unleashed a multi-faceted attack that covered the gamut of offensive ingenuity.
That scope also extended to the defense and special teams (for the most part). All three combined for a rout that will have Rex Ryan questioning the legitimacy of his team on all sides of the ball.
On that note, let’s bring to light the five things we learned from the 49ers dominant efforts against the Jets.
Note: There just might be an honorable mentions section at the end.
Hitting You in the Mouth, Doing It Often
The 49ers showcased that they feature a rushing attack that goes well beyond the starting backs.
But before we get there, Frank Gore performed in his usual deceivingly effective manner with 62 yards and a touchdown. He repeatedly ran as low to the ground as is possible in a human body—hiding behind the rather gargantuan figures that comprise the 49ers offensive line.
Kendall Hunter—Gore’s backup—proved himself as more than a change-of-pace-back. He showed incredible vision in finding running lanes by waiting for blocks, biding his time and bursting through the hole that simply wouldn’t exist to an outside observer.
A fourth-quarter touchdown was his reward for his Sunday’s efforts.
Moving back to the focus of this slide’s headline, the 49ers had seven other players that contributed in the run game.
Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran an option left and dashed in for San Francisco’s first TD. Mario Manningham pulled off a double-fake, misdirection reverse that yielded 28 yards and a first down as well.
Ted Ginn, in his first day back, ran a fly sweep after his previous fake, while Kyle Williams joined in on the action on an Alex Smith-led option to the right sideline.
And to put the icing on the cake, fullback Bruce Miller got some love with a five-yard carry.
All told, the Jets could not stop the 49ers run game. Three touchdowns, 245 yards and a 5.6-yard average are reasons enough.
Colin Kaepernick—Much More Than a Gimmick
Kaepernick showed that he’s much more than a quarterback who only thrives in a college system.
The record-setting Nevada quarterback played in a way that confounded Rex Ryan’s defense whenever he came in on offense.
On the first drive, Kaep executed one of those beautiful option plays that dupes both the defense and cameramen alike. He sold everyone on a flip to Gore on an inside run, and at the last minute dashed left and was one tackle away from taking it to the house.
He then capitalized on his physicality and decision-making skills on a QB rush for a touchdown inside the Jets’ 10-yard line.
For those still skeptical about his abilities as a passer, well, some of that still might apply. He threw into triple coverage on a bomb to Randy Moss in the end zone.
Even so, the ball was placed in an area where Moss could get over top of the defenders and make a play. It was a rocket, high-arching pass that few other quarterbacks in the league could make.
The 49ers still need to see Kaepernick succeed on intermediate passes, however. His touch will continue to be scrutinized on short-range throws.
The overarching idea, though, is that Kaepernick played a critical role in the outcome of this game. He contributed to—rather than detracting from—the 49ers victory.
Alex Smith: Little Bit of the Good, Little Bit of the Bad
Defeats in 34-0 fashion notwithstanding, there still are negative aspects worth mentioning.
The obvious conveys that Smith produced a QBR of 52.2 and rating of 78.1. These are not favorable numbers.
More detrimental to the team’s winning efforts was his inability to recognize a closing window on consecutive plays.
He utilized an inopportune pump-fake and held on to the ball well beyond his allotted time on the Niners’ fifth drive, which resulted in back-to-back sacks. It also forced David Akers into a 55-yard field-goal attempt that subsequently went wide right.
Furthermore, he overthrew Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree on multiple sideline passes down the field. This was one of the biggest knocks against Smith entering this season.
All that said, there was still some positivity stemming from Smith’s play on Sunday. He did hit Mario Manningham on a couple sideline passes and stuck to his check-down options when his defensive reads did not yield any openings.
He also extended numerous plays and threw accurately outside the pocket. Most importantly, he did not turn the ball over and showcased his expertise of the playbook.
Still, fans and analysts will not fully endorse Smith until he proves himself more accurate on deep throws outside the numbers.
Run-Stuffing, Turnover-Happy Defense Returns
The look on the Jets’ head coach at the postgame handshake said it all:
Rex Ryan would want nothing more than what Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers do best.
The most outspoken coach in the NFL about the efficacy of ground-and-pound football was also its victim that suffered the most.
On top of surrendering 245 yards and over five yards per carry in a way that only a Big 12 defense could accomplish, Ryan’s own running backs mustered just 45 yards total on the ground. Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Tim Tebow—the Jet’s best rusher—could not break through during any point of the game.
Patrick Willis and Co. also resurrected their takeaway-tendencies from 2011. Willis snagged an interception off a tipped ball and the defense as a whole forced three fumbles. Carlos Rogers put the icing on that cake with a fumble return for a touchdown (with our positive thoughts going out to Santonio Holmes).
Dashon Goldson also had two fantastic pass breakups in coverage, while four other 49ers contributed in a similar capacity.
And Aldon Smith—his knucklehead penalty aside—registered two-and-a-half sacks. His linebacker compatriot Ahmad Brooks also took down Mark Sanchez with a pinky and a mere stank eye.
The over/under on the number Sanchez “someone-come-help-me” faces was well covered by the 49ers ruthless defense.
Playbook Expansion in Play
Yes, the 49ers left way too many points off the board.
Akers missed two field goals and Jim Harbaugh was way too conservative inside of the red zone before Gore’s fourth-down touchdown.
That said, nearly all playmakers on the roster made contributions to the final score.
Gore, Hunter, Crabtree, Manningham, Davis, Walker, Williams, Ginn, Dixon, Miller—there was no shortage of diversity for this offense. 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman kept the Jets guessing for the better part of the game.
He utilized his vast assortment of rushing schemes and West Coast pass plays. The running game was certainly the catalyst towards the 49ers victory—the 44 rushing attempts to 22 in passing game cannot be denied.
Misdirections, reverses, fly sweeps, power rushes—you name it.
But if Smith had delivered on a number of well-timed passing opportunities, a balance between run and pass would have been much more readily apparent.
In any case, the 49ers can take solace in a far-less irate Harbaugh in the postgame locker room.
Muffed Andy Lee Punt
This was a rare blemish on the punter’s otherwise immaculate resume.
Akers’ 2 Missed Field Goals
Déjà vu? Another rare stain on a fellow All-Pro kicker’s career.
Lodging in this town on an extended road trip paid dividends for the second year in a row.
Even while creating opportunities for others, Moss is still a decoy in this offense.
Poor Mark Sanchez
Anyone else hear those Sanchez boos and simultaneous chants for “Teeee-bow, Teee-bow?”
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