San Francisco 49ers: Grading the Week 5 Win
Well, that was fun! Since being embarrassed by Minnesota in Week 3, the 49ers have outscored the next two opponents 79-3. While the Jets game last week was certainly a trouncing, the 49ers really outdid themselves at home against Buffalo.
As if the 45-3 final score wasn't enough, the 49ers set an NFL record as the first franchise with 300 passing yards and 300 rushing yards in the same game.
Wait, it doesn't end there.
The last time the Niners had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and TWO 100-yard receivers in the same game? In 1961 against the Chicago Bears.
The offensive attack was relentless, Alex Smith looked like Tom Brady, the Bills defense couldn't cover a receiver or tackle a runner and the Niners' D was ferocious as ever. All in all, it was a fun game to watch as the 49ers cemented themselves again as the best overall team in football.
Here is the report card for the Week 5 destruction at Candlestick:
Passing Game: A
My boy Alex Smith looked like a grown MAN in Sunday's win. Not only did he set a career high in first half passing yards, he didn't get sacked all game, scrambled for 49 yards, threw three touchdowns against zero interceptions, finished with 303 total passing yards AND had a passer rating of 156.3.
The offensive line was fantastic, and the game plan was excellent. It seemed like every time Smith dropped back to pass, the intended receiver was all by himself in the middle of the field. The first half was littered with a few holding penalties that ended up costing the 49ers yardage, but the O-Line looked good for the most part.
But don't get me wrong, this wasn't just a case of incredible "game-managing" by Smith. He made some absolutely perfect throws down field. The one that comes to mind first is a tight-fitting spiral in stride with a very closely-guarded Vernon Davis for a big gain.
Also, Smith had nearly 80 yards of passing called back on two penalties—if not for those, he would have approached 400 yards on the day.
Speaking of Davis, he had a nice day, catching five passes for 106 yards. Michael Crabtree continued to play well, snagging six for 113 and a touchdown. Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham added touchdown catches of their own.
Running Game: A
I can't say enough about the offensive effort against Buffalo. Over 300 yards in the air, 300 on the ground—what is a defense to do? The running game absolutely punished the Bills on Sunday, going for 311 yards on only 38 attempts, good for over eight yards per carry.
Once again, multiple rushers took a turn in this game, with Frank Gore leading the way for 106 yards and a touchdown. Kendall Hunter pitched in 81 yards, and Anthony Dixon and Colin Kaepernick each found their way into the end zone.
The offensive line was opening gaping holes for the running backs, and a plethora of gadget plays were used by Jim Harbaugh to get guys like Kyle Williams and Kaepernick their hands on the ball.
Really, the only blemish on offense came when Kaepernick picked up a nice gain, but failed to secure the ball and got rocked on a blindside hit, losing a fumble. All together, a great effort by this unit, though.
Front 7: A
The defensive line and linebackers did their job yet again, stuffing the run and eliminating tight ends from the game. You may be surprised to find out that the Bills rushed for 89 yards against the 49ers, but take into account two things.
First, they have one of the most dynamic running duos in the game with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Second, 35 of those yards were on one trick play to Brad Smith in garbage time. Basically, the Niners absolutely shut down Spiller and Jackson and forced the turnover-happy Ryan Fitzpatrick to go to the air.
Though the front seven only managed one sack, they were getting pressure on Fitzpatrick often. And All-Pro Patrick Willis had another huge game, coming up with a team-leading seven tackles and a forced fumble. You can't ask for much more out of the best front seven in football.
Despite his penchant for throwing interceptions, Ryan Fitzpatrick is actually a pretty productive quarterback. He racks up decent yardage and a few touchdowns in most games.The 49ers secondary held him to 126 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.
Nice game, don't you think? Chris Culliver stepped up to pick off a terribly underthrown pass by Fitzpatrick on a ball intended for the end zone, Dashon Goldson recovered a fumble and the coverage was tight all day.
There's not a lot to complain about here. For the second week in a row, the secondary's urgency and energy was at its highest. I didn't think they could improve upon 2011, but all signs point to me being completely wrong on that.
Special Teams: A
Andy Lee averaged 56 yards per punt. On two punts. All day. You know your offense had a good day when you don't even need the punt unit more than once a half.
David Akers made his only field-goal attempt and hit all six extra points. You know your offense had a good day when your kicker is just chipping it in after a touchdown all game.
Between Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn, Jr., the 49ers returned five kicks for 64 yards. Eh, whatever. We could have started each drive at our own 1-yard line and still punched in four or five touchdowns in this game.
The coverage unit struggled a little bit, allowing three big returns (including a 58-yarder). But we'll let it slide this week.
Jim Harbaugh is really getting into a game-planning groove. As if a 45-3 shellacking wasn't enough proof, the way in which he's started to utilize Kaepernick's playmaking abilities is wreaking havoc on opposing defensive coordinators.
With versatile athletes like Kaepernick, Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and Kyle Williams in on any given down, the defense has to devote at least one extra set of eyes to that player. They could block, take a hand-off or go for a pass at any time.
Plus, Kaepernick's arm strength gives them one of the most dangerous wildcat quarterbacks in the NFL. Harbaugh has just started scratching the surface of his in-game play calling strategies, and it's working wonders so far.
It's going to take a big effort to knock off a team with so much confidence and momentum right now. Good luck to everyone else.
Did you expect anything less? Let me break down the Good, Bad and Ugly segment for you on this last slide:
Everything. Literally. The coaching and play-calling was magnificent. Alex Smith looked like an MVP quarterback. Receivers were running crisp, precise routes and getting mega yards after the catch. The run game was unstoppable and the defense absolutely stifling. What more can you ask for?
The Buffalo Bills. Yep, the Niners were so good last weekend that I couldn't even pick anything to call them out for on being "bad." I guess they could have gotten a few more sacks. Maybe a little better on both sides of returns. I'm not worried.
The score! A final score of 45-3 is not what I expected against anyone, let alone a team with a high-powered offense like the Bills. This game proved to me that our 49ers are the best team in the NFL still. Definitely the team to beat in the NFC; the only question is if they can sustain it and carry that momentum into a Super Bowl appearance.
Here's to hoping for another big win against the Giants this weekend! Who's got it better than us?